Romans 8:1-4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 15, 2015 0 comments
by Katie Erickson

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 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.” (Romans 8:1-4)

It seems odd to start out a chapter with the word therefore, but we’ve seen this idea before - Paul didn’t write this letter with chapters and verses, but rather as a continuous letter. So in order to get the context of what Paul is writing about, I encourage you to read Romans 7.

Paul had just been writing about how the law shows us our sin (here), so now he’s giving his readers some encouragement to follow that up. Because of what the law says (see Romans 5:12-21), we should be completely condemned. But, thankfully, there is NO condemnation if we’re in Jesus Christ! That right there is the whole point of the gospel message.

But why is there no condemnation for us, even though we deserve it? When we have realized that we’re sinners and deserve God’s condemnation for breaking His rules, we then need to understand that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty that we deserve for our sins. After that death He rose again, so that if we put our faith in Him, we don’t get that condemnation that we deserve! As it says in this passage, we humans were and are powerless to overcome the power of the law. But what we couldn’t do for ourselves, Jesus Christ did for us.

The word “flesh” is mentioned a number of times in this short passage. Law was weakened by the flesh. God condemned sin in the flesh. God won the victory over sin in the flesh. Christ came in the likeness of the flesh. If all of these things didn’t happen regarding the flesh, there would be no point for us human beings! But because all of this happened in the flesh, we reap the benefits of God’s work for us. Although Christ was in the likeness of the flesh, he did not give in to the temptation of the flesh to sin. Therefore, God, in Christ, has fulfilled the whole requirement of the law on our behalf, if we have faith in Him.

I’ve also been talking about that word condemnation a lot, but what does that really mean? The original Greek word used here is katakrima, which literally means “down judgment” or “to judge down.” It has the idea of not only being pronounced as guilty, but being handed the punishment for that guilt too. It’s like the verdict and sentencing, all at once.

This brings up the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11. Everyone was expecting the woman to be condemned, because she was obviously caught in adultery, which was punishable by death according to their law. But even though she may have deserved that condemnation, she did not receive it! Why? Because if anyone condemned her, they would also be condemning themselves, since they knew that no one could perfectly keep the law’s commandments.

We cannot fulfill the law on our own. But, we do our part to fulfill the law by living our lives in the Holy Spirit and following the ways of Jesus. Come back next week for more on what that looks like.

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