Romans Bible Study Lesson 21

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No condemnation

Romans 8:1—4

There are two types of people in this world, condemned and not condemned. Those who are in Christ, who have believed by faith that Jesus Christ died, was buried and resurrected are identified with Him and will experience the same. With the giving of the Mosaic Law came the knowledge of sin, with the knowledge of sin came moral responsibility (3:20) and with moral responsibility came greater condemnation (7:13). Before the giving of the Law I could not break the Law, (5:13) but when the Law was given I became even guiltier (5:20).

Verse 1

Paul has been slowly and methodically building his case for the changes that are inherent in this new dispensation. The old dispensation put men under Law with all its requirements. It was a time of learning for mankind with God as the teacher showing us that no one could ever find righteousness by obeying the Law. All the Law could do is tell us what God expected of us but it had no power whatsoever to help us conform to its requirements. As a side note, many of the requirements of the Law will be restated in the Millennial Kingdom and this time Israel will be enabled to completely obey it through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

Jeremiah 31:31— 34 31“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Paul has been taking us on a journey as we wind our way through Romans. This journey climaxes in Chapter 8. It’s as if we are hiking a mountain trail that culminates in a majestic vista. Chapter 8 is that climatic end of the trail with a breathtaking view.

Our journey began in the swamp of human depravity and ends in the glorious statement that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. Here is a chapter-by-chapter summary of Romans:

Chapter 1: Man’s depravity.

Chapter 2: Man’s complete hopelessness—we are all sinners deserving of death.

Chapter 3: God’s righteousness is imputed on the basis of faith; we are justified.

Chapter 4: Examples of Old Testament saints who were justified by faith.

Chapter 5: Results of our justification.

• Peace with God

• Unhindered access to God

• Rejoicing in our future hope

• Rejoicing in our present tribulation

• The love of God poured out in our hearts

Chapter 6: Our position in Christ.

Chapter 7: Our daily struggle with sin.

Chapter 8: We are not under God’s condemnation.

Those who were looking for righteousness in the Law only found condemnation.

2 Corinthians 3:7—9 7But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 8how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? 9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”

Those who are found in Christ will not be condemned because Christ is the only one who was able to fulfill the Law. Since He completely fulfilled every aspect of the Law those who are in Christ are also seen as have fulfilled the Law.

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Romans 8:4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

It must be noted that some translations add an extra phrase at the end of verse 1. Compare the KJV with the NASB:

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (KJV)

Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (NASB)

This phrase is not used in the earliest manuscripts and probably does not belong here. It may have been added by a scribe to help clarify who will not be condemned. However, instead of clarifying, it muddies because being in Christ Jesus does not guarantee that we will always walk in the Spirit. There are times we walk after the flesh and fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Can it be said that at those times we are under God’s condemnation? Absolutely not! If we are in Christ, we will never experience God’s wrath or condemnation. Being in Christ is a permanent position that can never be changed.

Romans 5:16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.

Romans 8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

Verse 2

We can see two laws at work, one law in the unbeliever and the other in the believer. These two laws do not operate simultaneously in one person but the law of the Spirit supersedes the law of sin and death at the moment a person becomes a believer. These two laws can be summarized like this:

The Law of the Spirit = life in Christ

The Law of sin and death = death in sin

Before we were saved we were under the control of sin which brings death. After our salvation we are now under the control of Christ who brings life. We cannot separate sin and death nor can we separate Christ and life. They are both unbreakable laws formulated by God. We continue to struggle with sin because the law of sin in our bodies (7:23) is not superseded by the Law of the Spirit. We need to make a conscious decision to put the sin nature aside and walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) because through the power of the Holy Spirit I believe we are able to do so.

This verse gives us the reason that we are not under God’s condemnation—we are “in Christ.” Christ’s redemptive work is the reason we can be “in Him” while the Spirit is the Person who sustains and seals us in Christ. The Father planned both of these functions for us from before the creation.

Verse 3

This is a further explanation of how we have been freed from the law of sin and death. It first clearly states that we could not be freed by works of the Law because the Law was weak. Paul preached the impotency of the Law in Antioch-Pisidian in his first recorded sermon about five years before Galatians was written and about 9 years before Romans was written.

Acts 13:38—39 38“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

The Law was not to be used to obtain God’s righteousness but to realize is was impossible to obtain righteousness. The Law made men ready for the coming Savior. Hebrews emphasizes the weakness of the Law as it tries to convince the believing Jews (under the Kingdom program) that there was something better now that Christ’s work has been completed.

Hebrews 7:18—19 18For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Scripture makes it clear that the Law’s main purpose was to show us that it was impossible in ourselves to obey and please God by keeping it. It’s hard to understand why anyone would even try to obey the Law to gain access to heaven.  The Law only leads to condemnation and death.

Romans 5:20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Galatians 3:23—25 23But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

So, instead of being freed by the Law, we were kept in captivity. It is the Father who sent His Son, in our likeness, who condemned sin and freed us from condemnation. The word likeness in the Greek is homoiomati and means resemblance or similarity. Christ was exactly like us except He was without sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

He was not an exact duplicate of a human being because He was born without the sin nature. Adam has a damaged nature. What was once perfect and righteous became corrupt and unrighteous when he decided to please himself instead of God. The imperfect nature is passed along genetically to all mankind. Christ broke that continuation of the corrupt nature by having a spiritual Father instead of an earthly father. He is fully human in every physical way but spiritually he was born perfect and righteous. This is why Scripture says he was born in the likeness of sinful flesh instead of in the likeness of the flesh.

Since He was born with a perfect nature and lived a perfect life He was the only one who would be able to condemn sin through the sacrifice of His flesh.

Ephesians 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Hebrews 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Verse 4

Verse one states that we are not under God’s condemnation. Verse two explains that it is because we have life in Christ Jesus while verse three expands on that statement by adding it was through the sacrificial death of God’s Son. Verse four now explains the whole purpose of God going to all this trouble of saving us. It was so we could serve Him.

The Law can be boiled down to two statements:

Matthew 22:35—40 35One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Galatians 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ” YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

To fulfill the Law one would need to love God and love others. This requirement is met when we give our life over to Christ and allow Him to work in us in the way He chooses. This requirement is not fulfilled BY us but IN us. We in our sinful flesh cannot please God and have no desire to do so. We can only meet the requirements of the Law when we hand ourselves over to God as a living sacrifice, useful to His service (Romans 12:1–2). We do not own ourselves because Christ purchased us.

1 Corinthians 6:19—20 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

This fulfilling of the Law is being accomplished by Christ being in us and is manifested when we walk in the Spirit. If we are walking in the flesh we are taking off in our own direction and doing our own thing. When we are walking in the Spirit, we are putting ourselves completely in God’s control; like a glove without a hand we can do nothing without Christ.

Galatians 5:16—18 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.