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No condemnation

Romans 8:1-11

New International Version - UK

Life through the Spirit

8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[e] his Spirit who lives in you.

Sermon thoughts.

Today we continue in our series of sermons on the book of Romans.

Near the end of Romans 7, which we looked at last week, St. Paul asked the question: Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Paul begins this next part of his letter with the declaration that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, the word condemnation could also be translated as “death sentence”.

This body of death does not result in a death sentence.

Who will deliver me from this body of death? In Christ Jesus the law of the spirit who gives life, has set us free from the law of sin and death.

With all the talk in these verses about life in the flesh and life in the spirit, compared to death in the flesh, we would be forgiven for thinking that Paul rejects the flesh and blood existence as evil, as if the body was somehow bad and the spirit better. But that is not the case.

Flesh is not bad, in terms of the physical body. That’s not what he means.

No, the word he uses for flesh, has to do with that part of us that sin can gain control of. Often today we use phrases like “the sinful human nature”.

Over the last few chapters Paul has spoken about law and righteousness, about slavery to sin or slavery to righteousness, about the eternal internal struggle, and now he is moving on to the understanding that he is talking to people who are saved, who ARE victorious in Jesus.

And this is where most Pastors in churches find themselves on any given Sunday.

Not talking to people who are slaves to the sinful nature, but those who live by the Spirit.

And Paul needs to let his listeners know that this is what they are if in fact they are believers in Jesus Christ.

No fewer than five times in eleven verses, Paul assures his hearers that they are not subject to sin, death or the flesh.

But they are those who “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” verse 4;

So, now that we know our salvation is in Jesus, now that we are saved, in the realm of the spirit, citizens of heaven, led by the spirit, forgiven and free, now what?

I have often said that the Christian life would be so much easier if the moment we came to faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and saviour God somehow just beamed us straight up to heaven.

I believe in xxx. and then “bam!”, eternity in the presence of God, pearly gates and clouds and harps and wings, etcetera!

But no. We have the rest of this mortal life to live here, however long that may be. And what happens now?

What Paul goes on to say now is that the WAY we live has changed now, just not our destination after we die. We have a new freedom to enjoy.

If we are free from sin, and death, then we are also free of the shame that comes with sin.

In the Today’s Light Bible, Jane Fryar writes, “Suppose that Jesus were to appear visibly across the table or next to your chair right now, this instant. How would you react? Would you cover your face in embarrassment? Begin confessing that particular sin that causes you so much shame? Look for a way to leave the room? Or would you feel confident in his presence? Would you with Mary at the garden tomb want to hold him, to hug him?

Romans 8:1 tells us in no uncertain terms that for those who are in Christ Jesus, for those who abide in Him by faith, there is no condemnation. There is now no condemnation. When Jesus shouted from the cross, “It is finished,” your salvation was complete. Your guilt was taken away; your sin was atoned for. At this moment, nothing stands between you and a holy God. Right now—this instant—you are free from guilt!” You don’t have to be ashamed.

What can do we do with that kind of freedom?

The story is told from ancient Rome of a young slave girl who was placed on the public auction block. She was sold to the highest bidder. The girl was forced to turn around, front and back, that the audience might see and make an estimate. The bids came in rapid succession, for she was young and strong. Finally one man outbid all the others; he bought the girl. He immediately put down the money and took possession of his property. Then he turned to the slave girl and said, “You are free. I have bought you free. You may go on your way.” She looked at him with her eyes wide open, with fear and apprehension. She did not understand. “Free,” he said, “You may go; you are free. I have given you your freedom.” The sincerity of his tone and the love in his eyes told her it was true. She fell at his feet, and, seized by gratitude, said, “Please, I don’t want to be free. I want to serve you. Let me serve you not as a slave but as a friend.”

That is an analogy of the joy of the freedom of the Christian life.

Martin Luther, in a short work called “On the freedom of a Christian”, once said:

“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject of all, subject to all.”

As well as being freed FROM something, we are always freed FOR something. For a purpose.

If what we are freed for is only to be selfish and care about ourselves above all others, breaking commandments about love for others, killing and stealing and committing adultery and bearing false witness, even if only in thought, is like being freed to go straight back into slavery to the very sin that held us captive.

In fact I would say that the only life that truly shows that we understand the freedom we have in the gospel, is a life that goes about serving others rather than ourselves.

And this isn’t case of “what must I do?” No, that is just making more laws. You must do this!: Is a law. But remember, the law cannot save us. We are free from the sin and death which is its punishment, that was revealed under the law.

It’s not a case of how MUST I live, but how can I live? How am I called to live, privileged to live, free to live?

Serving God and other people is not something that will appear beside our names when we reach heaven, and we will not be assigned a better room on the basis of how much we do. We don’t earn anything, we don’t fulfill any obligations, living the Christian life of service. It is an act of a free person, lived out in love and thankfulness, and we know that it pales into insignificance beside what Jesus has done for us.

I pray that all of us, as a church, may have the joy of the freedom of the Christian life shine through us, in everything that we do, as we live out our freedom together.


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