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Wed, Jun 14, 2000

9 - No Condemnation

Romans 8:1-3 by Robert Dean
Series:Spiritual Life (2000)
Duration:56 mins 49 secs

No Condemnation: Romans 8: 1 – 3. Tape 9.





The major problem in the Christian life is the sin nature. Unfortunately we all have one and it is just as nasty after salvation as it ever was before salvation and this is the problem that Paul has outlined and reviewed for us in Romans Chapter 7. Now we have to understand some things about the sin nature because people just don't (whether they are unbelievers or believers) want to own up to the responsibilities of the sin nature and man has always had the problem of owning up to the responsibilities of sin ever since Adam first sinned in the garden. The initial response was Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent and it hasn't stopped since then. Everybody has a sin nature. Now in Romans 7, Paul uses the term flesh, SARX in the Greek and in Romans 6 he uses the term body of sin, both have to do with our physical material body and we have to realise that the sin nature is passed on genetically.


The sin nature is genetic in where it is housed; there are both material and immaterial aspects to the sin nature. The inner motivation or the core motive of the sin nature is the lust patterns. It is driven by lusts, desires to make life work apart from God. The essence of the sin nature is to try to find happiness, peace and success apart from God and so these various lusts drive us in different directions. Everybody has different lust patterns depending on your sin nature. Those lust patterns will manifest in different directions and drive you in terms of trends. Now everyone has different trends. Some people will trend towards mental attitude sins and they will have problems with anger, bitterness and jealousy and they are always struggling with these things - revenge motivation and vindictiveness - somebody does something that disappoints them and hurts them and they take offence at it. They are self absorbed and arrogant and the next thing you're in trouble and they are out to get you, they don't talk to you or something of that nature. Other people have trends toward overt sins, maybe its sex lust and they have problem in the arena of adultery, fornication, maybe it's manifested as homosexuality, and maybe it is manifested in terms of chemical dependence such as alcoholism or drug abuse. So we have these various trends and everybody has a different trend and everybody has problems and they seem to be insurmountable. Now, the thing about the sin nature is that people want to justify their sins and so they try to limit these things in different ways and try to rationalise their sinful trends away and either not make them sins or take the genetic aspect and say that there is a gene that predetermines them so its really not their fault! 'I was made this way!' e.g. homosexuality or alcoholism.


 Paul says in Romans 7, "Why is it that I don't do what I want to do and I do what I don't want to do." That is the tension that every single believer faces. We sit there and we can list 29 excellent reasons for why we should not engage in certain behaviour whether its overt, mental or what ever it might be and 2 seconds later we turn right around and we are deeply immersed in that behaviour. Why is that? It is because this irrational force or nature that we have called the sin nature and it is still there after salvation. So Paul expresses this in verse 24 "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? He expresses his exasperation in the struggle.


Then he says in Romans 7:25, "...Thanks [grace belongs] be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin."

Serving the Lord starts with the mentality of the soul, it is not primarily emotional, it is not sentimental but it starts with how we think. We have to learn to think doctrinally which means we have to let every category of our thinking be transformed by divine viewpoint. What it means by law here is not the Mosaic Law, earlier in the chapter it was the Mosaic Law, but here we have to see that there is a contrast in verse 25 between the 'Law of God' and the last phrase 'the law of sin.' Law here has more the idea of the principles of God, both the establishment and the mandates of the spiritual life, the plan of God outlined in the New Testament. With my mind I learn that and apply that but on the other hand with my flesh because the flesh is drawn, attracted and motivated by the sin nature I follow the principle of sin. 


What is the solution? There is this contrast again that Paul sets up between these two poles, one or the other.  Then we come to chapter 8. Remember what Paul has said in the immediate context of chapter 7, he emphasizes personal responsibility and he emphasizes that as a mature believer he still goes through this struggle. I think it is crucial for us to realise that Paul's use of the present tense throughout chapter 7 indicates this isn't simply a struggle he had as a believer after salvation.


One way that this has been taught is that Romans chapter 6 talks about our freedom from sin, Romans 7 deals with the Law and freedom from the law and then Paul starts talking about his own experience, his experience before salvation verses 7 – 12 and then his experience after salvation in verses 13 – 25, and it is clear that this is Paul's personal experience, its post salvation experience. The way that this has been taught is that chapter 7 deals with Paul trying to live the spiritual life apart from the Holy Spirit. But if we think about what we know about the Apostle Paul's life, that doesn't ring true.


You go back to Acts chapter 9 when Paul is saved he immediately begins to learn Bible doctrine. Paul is out lining the fact that even as a mature believer we can get side tracked and start walking according to the sin nature and we are walking a moral life and what happens is we still have this struggle. The sin nature for a mature believer can exert the same power, the same control, the same influence as it does to an immature believer. So just because you have been a mature believer doesn't mean you are protected from being completely stupid and living on the basis of your sin nature and executing some of the most incredible, shocking sins possible. That can happen to any one of us. That is why the solution is grace, because we realise that any one of us, no matter how well or deeply entrenched in doctrine, can in just a weak moment, be out of fellowship, give into the sin nature and be just as radically carnal as we were before we ever learned any doctrine.


The thing to do is to understand the importance of that moment by moment dependence on the Holy Spirit. So Chapter 7 is not just the experience of the believer apart from the Holy Spirit but the experience of the mature believer who at any moment can live according to the sin nature and live under the influence of the sin nature. The battle with the sin nature is a continuous battle.



No Condemnation: Romans 8: 1 – 3


Now we come to the solution, the divine viewpoint solution to the power of the sin nature at the beginning of chapter 8. Now this is an important verse for us to understand so we have to back up and learn some things, review some things and try to understand just what it is that Paul is saying.


The verse in the NASB reads:

8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..."


We have to make a couple of points in terms of the Greek and exegesis, to understand the thrust of the verse. This I think is one of the more powerful verses in the New Testament, especially if you are the kind of person that struggles with guilt and wakes up in the morning and thinks, 'did I do something that somehow caused me to lose my salvation?' This is the trend in some people's sin nature which is towards worry, anxiety and fear and they constantly think that they may do something to engender God's hostility and lose their salvation. What this verse means is that there is no condemnation any more if you are in Christ Jesus, period! There is nothing you can do to bring about condemnation and we will develop that idea. But first we will break it down in terms of a couple of points in the Greek.


1.  In the Greek the first word OUDEN this tells us that this is a negative adjective and it modifies the noun condemnation and it means that there is absolutely no condemnation. It completely negates the idea and removes any doubt that a believer is going to undergo any kind of condemnation. So by the fact that this is the first word in the Greek text indicates the emphasis of the text, what Paul wants us to notice that there is NO CONDEMNATION! All has been dealt with.

2.  Now the next phrase which in the Greek is a compound of two words Therefore, ARA drawing a conclusion, and then the word NUN for now, whenever we see 'therefore,' we should always ask what is it there for! He is drawing a conclusion. But is he drawing a conclusion from the immediately preceding context? Which means; is this a conclusion based on verse 24 – 25 or, is this a conclusion from a broader argument? I think that he is drawing it from a broader argument and the reason I would say that exegetically and you always have to develop your reasons from the text. If you look back at Romans 6 & 7 there is a rhetorical feature that Paul uses. A stylistic device that he uses to push his argument, to push his thinking from one thought to the next as he builds, he is constructing a very tight line of argumentation: -


  i.  In 6:1 he says "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that Grace might increase?" "May it never be!" ME GENOITO,

  ii.  In 6:15 he says "…What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" "May it never be!" ME GENOITO. He is using these rhetorical questions to emphasize a point and then he denies it and then he explains the doctrine. 

  iii.  The rhetorical question of 7:1 "… Do you not know brethren: (for I am speaking to those who know the Law), that the Law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?"

  iv.  He does it again in 7:7, "What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! ME GENOITO.

  v.  Then he comes down in Verse 13, "…Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! ME GENOITO


So he is advancing his argument stylistically through the asking of a rhetorical question and its denial. All of a sudden when we come to 8:1 you can go through the remainder of chapter 8 and guess what you don't see anymore? You don't see him asking those questions anymore. So you go back and you see that what Paul has done here is that he has structured point 1 – 5 in his argumentation and those are each established by his rhetorical question and then he comes in and says "therefore." So that chapter 8 is a conclusion now to the points that he has made in chapter 6 and chapter 7. Paul is using simple teaching techniques in the opening three verses of chapter 8 and what's that teaching technique? Review and repeat.


He says in Romans 8:1, "...There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..."


Condemnation is the Greek word KATAKRIMA. KATAKRIMA is used only three times in the New Testament and all of them are in Romans. The Loonitus Symantec lexicon says that KATAKRIMA means to judge someone as defiantly guilty. Now that puts us right smack bang in the court room, it is not an experiential term, its not talking about whether or not you feel condemned or guilty and its not talking about anything relating to an subjective state or experiential state, its talking about the objective reality of what takes place before the supreme court of heaven in relationship to mankind and it means to judge someone as defiantly guilty.  We are guilty because we have broken God's standard, we have violated the perfect righteousness of God, so it is to judge some one as defiantly guilty and thus subject to punishment. It means to condemn, rendering a verdict of guilt or condemnation. The Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek Lexicon says that it is not merely condemnation but it is the punishment following a pronouncement of legal guilt. So it brings in this idea of legality, something that takes place in a court room.


The word condemnation is the opposite of justification and this has been the subject of Paul earlier in this section. Scripture says in Romans 3:23 "…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." None of us avoid the condemnation of sin, that's what that sentence does, it condemns all of us. Now, condemnation comes from the perfect righteousness of God, we look at the character of God, his righteousness is his absolute standard and his justice is the application of that standard. We are born – R, we lack righteousness and we cannot measure up to the perfect righteousness of God. At the cross Jesus Christ died (Jesus Christ being undiminished deity and true humanity with perfect righteousness, he did not sin), Scripture tells us in Isaiah 64:6 "… all of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment," (note: it does not say all our unrighteousness's are like a filthy garment but all of our righteous deeds).


In 2 Cor 5:21 we read, "... he made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him..."


So what happens is that our sins are poured out on Jesus Christ on the cross, He who knew no sin was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in those who are in Christ. So at the moment of faith alone in Christ alone God's perfect righteousness is imputed to the believer. So that when God looks at the believer he doesn't see our – R he sees the perfect righteousness of Christ, at that point he declares us to be righteous, that means justified. That is what justification means, it is a legal term meaning declared righteous. It is the opposite of condemnation. Justification is the opposite of condemnation. So because we possess the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, God is free to bless us. So at the moment of salvation, God bestows on us all of the assets, for the spiritual life.


Now look at a couple of verses:


  i.  John 3:18, "The one who believes in Him is not condemned" This is the word KRINO, the verb form of KATAKRIMA for not being condemned. The sole condition for avoiding condemnation is faith alone in Christ alone.

  ii.  Romans 5:16 and Romans 5:18. There we see that it is clearly talking about what takes place at the point of justification salvation. We see the contrast between condemnation on one hand and justification on the other hand.


So in context Paul is giving us a review in verse 1, he is reviewing what has taken place in his argument already in Romans; he is going back to the subject of Justification by faith in Romans 3 – 5. 


  i.  The believer is no longer under that judicial penalty from the supreme court of heaven, because of justification. We are justified because we gain the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

  ii.  The arena of application here in terms of the context of Romans chapter 8 is those who are in Christ Jesus. "In Christ" is positional truth and the baptism of the Holy Spirit outlined in Romans 6. We are identified with Christ in His death burial and resurrection by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

  iii.  Romans 8:1 reviews the point of Romans 6: 1 – 5 which emphasises two things:


(a)  The potential of walking in newness of life – because we have been identified with Christ, this happened so that we might walk in newness of life. (That's the last phrase in verse 4.) The purpose was so that we would WALK in newness of life. It is potential because it is in the subjunctive mood indicating that we may or we may not fulfil that because of the role of our volition in determining whether or not you will walk in newness of life.

(b)  We are freed from the tyranny (dominion/slavery) to the sin nature. But we are not freed from the presence of the sin nature, we are to consider or reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive to Christ.


So Romans 8:1 is simply a reminder of his first point back in chapter 6 and that is that there is no condemnation (that goes back to justification) for those who are in Christ. Because you have been justified you are in Christ and have been identified with His death, burial and resurrection.


Verse 2, "…For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death..."


This verse starts off in the Greek with the particle GAR which this indicates that this is a further explanation. Now what does he say in the second half of Romans 6? Look at the question that is raised in verse 15. "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law, but under Grace? Notice that he is tying those two together? What is he saying in 8:2, "…the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the Law of sin and of death." Verse 16 of Chapter 6, "…Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey either sin resulting in death or of obedience resulting in righteousness?


Now verse 2 says, "…For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." We have to stop and define four key terms before we exegete the verse.


  1. Law – What does he mean by law?


Ø He is not referring here to the Mosaic Law because that's good (Romans 7: 12). He is using the word 'law' here to talk about a principle, the reality.

Ø The principle of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the Law of Sin and of death. That was the point he was making back in Romans 6: 8 – 9, "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him because we know that Christ having been raised from the dead is never to die again, death is no longer master over Him."

Ø So we are to consider ourselves dead to sin. So by virtue of our baptism into Christ Jesus we are free from that enslavement to sin and the consequences which are death.

Ø This is what he is saying in verse 16 of chapter 6. When you present your selves as a believer to the sin nature for obedience you are a slave to the sin nature once again, not because the sin nature still has that unshakable tyranny. See this is the great power of this passage.

Ø We always think that we have to do what the sin nature says to do, and this passage is saying no you don't, you are just lying to yourself, and there is a real option now that you are a believer. If you continue to obey the sin nature then you just make yourself a slave. You can either obey the sin nature and if you do that is sin resulting in death.

Ø Now we have to ask the question; what is death? The law here is the principle that takes place at salvation; the law of the spirit of life verses the law of sin and death.

  1. Death – there is seven different types of death in the bible.

Ø These are physical death, spiritual death, sexual death, positional death, carnal death, temporal death and the second death.

  1. Life – There are four categories of life outlined in the New Testament.

Ø Physical life, spiritual life, eternal life (life without end in the presence of God) and the abundant life.

Ø Jesus emphasizes that there is a difference between just having eternal life (knowing that we will be spending our eternal destiny in heaven) and having that quality of life the abundant life that he came to give.

Ø So we have to decide what this means when it's talking about life and death and what Paul is saying is that because of what happens at regeneration and the baptism of God the Holy Spirit in identifying us with the death burial and resurrection, we are set free from the principle of sin and carnal death, it is not just spiritual death it is carnal death.

Ø This is the same point he is making back in 6:16, is that we are free. We have a choice, you can either follow the sin nature and end up in self destructive behaviour, unhappiness, misery, depression, frustration and you will end up in heaven but there will be shame at the judgement seat of Christ or you can realise that you are to be a slave to Christ and you need to be obedient to Him and that produces the abundant life.

Ø Of course the key is what are the mechanics of the abundant life? My only point here is that verse two is reminding us of the principle back in verse 6:6, that we are indeed free.


Verse 8:12 – 13 "…So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live..."


This shows us that he is talking to brethren, these are believers, these are not unbelievers, and he is talking to them as believers. That indicates that it is a very real option for the believer to live according to the flesh. He is saying if you are living according to the flesh you must die. This is temporal death, carnal death, out of fellowship and all the consequences of divine discipline and divine punishment. "…but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." That is advancing in your spiritual life, developing capacity for life and happiness, you will live.


So that tells us clearly the contexts that 1. It is addressed to brethren; therefore it's possible for believers to die and 2. Believers that have been given eternal life can still experience carnal death in this life as the result of living according to the sin nature. Romans Chapter 6 makes it abundantly clear that death and life are still options for the believer, not eternal death in the sense of eternity in the Lake of Fire.

Verse 16, "…Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey either sin resulting in death or of obedience resulting in righteousness?..."


Verse 21, "...Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death..."


Living according to the sin nature, the outcome is death, such as misery, depression, frustration, self  induced misery and a collapse in your life. This is the same thing that James emphasises in James 1:14 – 15 when he gives us the pathology of the sin nature, "…But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust [the driving force of the sin nature].Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." This is carnal death; this is the negative consequences of living according to the sin nature in this life. We miss out on the blessings of God and we go through divine discipline and misery in this life.


So death is contrasted to life and peace also in Romans 8:6 "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…" So once again that contrasts for the believer between a kind of death and the abundant life of the growing believer.

Now Romans 6:18 "…and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness…" This is our new position in Jesus Christ; the reality is that we have to decide whether we are going to walk according to that new position of slavery to God, being bond slaves to Jesus Christ.


  1. Freedom – Is not the absence of authority but it is the freedom to obey Christ.

Ø  It's not just being able to do what ever we want to do but it is the freedom to obey Christ. See true freedom involves discipline; it involves the ability to discipline yourself so that you can excel within that framework of discipline.

Ø  If you take away all absolutes then you can't excel. An athlete has to limit himself and realise what those boundaries are and live within those boundaries of a disciplined life and if he succeeds then he will be successful in his athletic endeavours. It gives him the freedom to move as he wants to move.

Ø  That's why Paul says we become slaves of righteousness, which is the discipline in the believer's life. Romans 6:22 "…But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life."

Ø  The only way to experience the freedom we have in Christ is to put ourselves completely under the authority of God and do everything that God says to do, and then we experience the real freedom that we have in Christ Jesus.

Ø  This is further stated in Galatians 5:1 "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery"


So in verse two Paul emphasizes what he said in Romans chapter 6 and then in Romans 8:3 he reminds us of the next point.


Verse 3, "...For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God {did :} sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and {as an offering} for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh…"


I just want to look at the first half of this verse this time and then the second half next time. What is the point of Romans 7? Romans 7:1 – 6 was the point that we have died to the law and the law no longer has any power. From verse 7 on is to show that the law is not capable of producing the righteous requirements of God not because there is something wrong with the Law but because of the problem of our own sin  nature and that is what Paul is summarizing in the first part of verse 3. "For what the Law could not do…" Not because there was an inherent weakness in the Mosaic Law, the weakness is in our sin nature. "…weak as it was through the flesh…" Our sinful nature made the Law weak, it's not that the Law was weak in of itself.


So because the Law was incapable of producing perfect righteousness in us because the problem was in us, our sin nature, God solved the problem completely by sending His own son in the likeness, HOMOIOMA it is the same word we find in Philippians 2: 14 of the kenosis passage that Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh. It is not that he came in sinful flesh, he was impeccable and there was no sin in Jesus Christ, He came in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin, now that looks like substitutionary atonement in the English but it's not. Its PERI meaning with reference to sin and He condemns, that is He judged sin in the flesh or bodily. He carried our sins bodily on the cross.




What Paul has reminded us of in these first three verses is the key arguments that he has laid out in Romans 6 through 7.


Ø  That is that we are justified at salvation, what happens as a result of justification is that we are identified with Christ with His death burial and resurrection by virtue of the baptism of God the Holy Spirit which places us in Christ.

Ø  Because we are identified with Christ Jesus we are set free from the Tyranny of the sin nature, we are no longer in bondage to the sin nature and therefore we can be free to obey God.

Ø  We are set free from the law of sin and death, so that we can advance in our spiritual life, develop capacity for life and have the abundant life.

Ø  The Law is incapable of doing this, you can't have advancement in the spiritual life on the basis of morality, religion or ritual. It is based exclusively on what Jesus Christ did on the cross and the result is given then in verse 4 and this sets us up to understanding the key principle in the Spiritual life.


Father we thank you for our time this evening, help us to be challenged by all the things which you have done for us on the cross, our justification, our identification with Christ, our positional truth that we might be free to obey you and to advance in the spiritual life under the filling of the Holy Spirit and walking in dependence on him. We pray this in Christ name, Amen.