Pastor David B. Curtis


Grace - Part 2:
Delivers from Judgment

Selected Scriptures


Last week we began to look at the subject of grace. Hopefully, you learned a few things about God's grace. I said that the word "grace" means: "free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only Judgment." I also said, "The only way anyone ever gets to heaven is by the grace of God. Yet the majority of people today who think they are going to heaven, think they are going there because of something they do, or don't do. Men think that they can earn their way into heaven." I hope that you realize that your salvation is totally of Grace. One of the verses that we looked at last week was:

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

In commenting on this verse, I said, "We are not under the condemnation of God any longer, nor will we ever be because we are in CHRIST." I want to make some things clear about this verse because we could get the wrong idea from reading it. Many have interpreted this verse to mean that we are not condemned as long as we live right. Is that what it is saying? Is our condemnation or lack of it based on how we live? If it is, then what I had to say about grace last week was all wrong. I want us to look at this because I think that most Christians base their relationship with God upon their performance. They think that as long as they live "right' that God does not condemn them. If this is true, than our relationship with God is based upon works and not grace.

Let's begin by seeking to understand what the word "condemnation" means. This theme of condemnation is found many places in the Scriptures. I'm sure you're all familiar with John 3:16.

John 3:16-19 (NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Here we see that everlasting life, or being saved, is contrasted to condemnation. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are not condemned. But the person who does not believe in Jesus Christ is condemned already.

John 5:28-29 (NKJV) "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 "and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Here resurrection life is contrasted to condemnation.

The Greek word that Paul uses, in Romans 8:1, for condemnation is katakrima. This particular word is only used three times in Scripture, all of them by Paul in Romans. Paul uses katakrima twice in Romans 5.

Romans 5:16 (NKJV) And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.

We see here that Adam's sin resulted in Judgment, which is the Greek word krima; a sentence, or a decision on the part of a judge. This sentence from the judge resulted in condemnation, katakrima. Katakrima is defined by Suttor in his Lexicon as the punishment following the sentence. It is in a passive formation in the Greek and it is not likely to refer to the sentence as an edict from the judge, but rather to the punishment.

What was the condemnation that Adam received? Death! He didn't die physically but he did die spiritually. He became separated from God, Who is life. Jesus said:

John 11:25 (NKJV) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Jesus is life! To be separated from Him is death. To die physically in the condition of spiritual death is to experience the second death.

Revelation 20:14 (NKJV) Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

So, condemnation is spiritual death which results in the second death, the lake of fire.

Romans 5:18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification.

Again, in this verse we see the same idea. Judgment resulted in condemnation, katakrima, or punishment.

The one man's offense here is referring to Adam's sin. When Adam sinned, he sinned as our federal head or representative. Adam's sin is imputed to the account of every individual in Adam's race. Everyone is born dead, separated from God, under condemnation, because of Adam's sin. His act was a representative act, and you and I, as being represented by our federal head, participated in Adam's sin. We are all born dead and under condemnation.

This section in Romans 5 is a comparison of two men, Adam and Christ. The comparison is very simple. There are two men, who each performed a single act, that brought forth a single result, and the result is experienced by every member in their respective races. In Adam, all are condemned but in Christ, all are made righteous. All men are born in Adam and it is only by grace through faith that we are placed in Christ.

Now let's go back to Romans 8:1

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Now, this text teaches us that there is no condemnation, no punishment, no separation from God and no lake of fire to those in Christ Jesus. Christians are no longer in Adam, and will, therefore, not receive punishment for Adam's sin. We are now "in Christ" and have received His righteousness.

The problem with this verse is, depending on what translation you use, you might get different ideas of who it is that has no condemnation. Let's look at a couple of translations.

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

Those make it sound simple, "those" in Christ are not condemned. But look again at the NKJV.

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Is our not being condemned a result of our daily walk? All of a sudden this is not such a comforting verse. Which of these translations is right? Should we just pick the one we like best? The one that fits our theology best?

The modern translations are based on additions of the Greek text that go back to the theories of Westcott and Hort, which wound up producing a text that is more like the manuscript we've recovered from ancient Egypt than it is like the majority of the surviving manuscripts, many of which are much later. And discussions, even in Hort's day and since then, have been over whether the Egyptian manuscripts represent a closer approximation to the original text or whether the majority of manuscripts do that. The Majority text has the phrase, "who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit." A very large majority of the manuscripts contain these words.

Textual criticism says that since condemnation refers to justification, then obviously the last phrase was an interpolation because justification is unconditional. But, the majority of texts have the phrase "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" in them. I believe that the Scriptures teach that our justification is unconditional, so how do we deal with this seemingly qualifying phrase?

I'm sure you would all admit that if not being condemned is based upon our daily walk, we are all in trouble. Yet, the better manuscripts say that, so now what?

The problem lies in our understanding of the phrase, "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." Most Christians would define "walking after the flesh" as doing sinful things. I think that if we understand how Paul uses these words, it will clear up the difficulty. Paul says:

Romans 8:8 (NKJV) So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Is Paul talking here about Christians who are doing sinful things or about unbelievers? There is a vast difference, I'm sure you would agree. Let's look at how Paul uses this phrase in other places. Let's look at Galatians 4. In verses 21-31, Paul speaks of the births of Ishmael and Isaac.

Galatians 4:23 (NKJV) But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,

Ishmael had fleshly parents, i.e., Hagar and Abraham. But Isaac also had fleshly parents, i.e., Sarah and Abraham. So, it is clear that Paul uses "flesh" here in a sense other than biological. They were both born of physical parents in a physical birth. So, what does he mean that Ishmael was "born after the flesh"? Look at verse 29:

Galatians 4:29 (NKJV) But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.

When these two verses are viewed together, you can see that Paul is saying that Isaac was born by promise, according to the Spirit. Ishmael was not born by promise of the Holy Spirit. Ishmael was "born only after the flesh." So the word "flesh" cannot mean simply a biological process, and it can't mean evil acts.

Biologically speaking, both Ishmael and Isaac were born after the flesh. Spiritually speaking, only Ishmael was born after the flesh. It is in this spiritual sense that Paul used the word "flesh" in Romans 8:8 and Galatians 2:29. Being born "after the flesh" or "after the Spirit" does not refer to a difference in the physicalness of their births, or to doing sinful things per say, but to two opposing principles in their births. These are trust in what is humanly possible as opposed to trust in God's grace and promise.

In Galatians, Paul's purpose in the allegory of the two covenants was to show that God's promise to Israel through Christ could not be received in the Old Covenant age. Jews under the law were the "children of the flesh," who were of the bondwonman, the Old Covenant, as typified by Hagar. The Old Covenant could not give freedom by reason of the "weakness of the flesh." It was given of God to show the inadequacy of man to live according to "human possibility." In Paul's view, flesh and Spirit fall into redemptive-historical categories, serving to elucidate the contrasting natures of the two covenant ages. Seeking to live by law really boils down to seeking life independently of God, which was the basic sin of Adam. To "walk after the flesh" is to seek life in terms of what man can accomplish of himself.

Galatians 6:7-8 (NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

If we take "flesh" here to refer to a sinful life, then sowing to the Spirit would mean living a holy life. This would mean that everlasting life is a product of living right. This would be salvation by works. We know that salvation is not of works.

Romans 4:5 (NKJV) But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,

What Paul is saying in Galatians 6:7-8 is that when a man seeks to gain the gift of God by human possibility, the very act itself is sin because it bears the fruits of self-righteousness. You cannot earn a right standing with God by what you do. Justification is by grace, and grace alone.

Romans 8:1 (NKJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

The phrase "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit"is not a qualifying phrase, it is a descriptive phrase. A Christian is one who does not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Philippians 3:3 (NKJV) For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

To "walk after the flesh" is to seek to be right with God in your own strength. It results in condemnation. The Jews placed all their confidence in the flesh. They were physical descendants of Abraham, they had the mark of circumcision, they physically performed the ceremonies, and they outwardly did the duties and traditions of the law. But it was all of the flesh and it got them nowhere. To place one's confidence in anything outside of the grace of God, is to have confidence in the flesh.

To "walk in the Spirit" is to trust in Christ and His finished work on Calvary. "Walking in the Spirit" is depending on grace, and grace alone.

Romans 8:2 gives the reason for no condemnation when walking in the Spirit.

Romans 8:2 (NKJV) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Paul contrasts two laws. The law of the Spirit is the same as:

Romans 6:7 (NKJV) For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Through the death of Christ we become dead to the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death was the Old Covenant law. Look at what Paul said about the Old Covenant:

2 Corinthians 3:6-9 (KJV) Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

The Old Covenant was a letter that killed, but the Spirit gives life. The Old Covenant was a ministration of condemnation, but the New Covenant is a ministration of righteousness.

Romans 8:3 (KJV) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

The law could not produce God's righteousness. It wasn't the law's fault, the problem was in the flesh. What the law couldn't do, God did. Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh. The Greek word for likeness is homoioma, which means: "similar but different." The difference was that he wasn't sinful. "For sin" is the Greek, peri hamartias, which means: "a sin offering." "Condemned sin," is katakrino; to judge against. Sentence was passed and executed on sin in Christ's flesh.

Romans 8:4 states the purpose for which God condemned sin in the flesh.

Romans 8:4 (KJV) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Notice that it doesn't say that we might fulfill the law, but that it might be fulfilled in us. We are passive; God is the actor. The requirement of the law is fulfilled in us by God. What is it the law requires? Righteousness! Righteousness is the state of him who is such as he ought to be, right with God. Righteousness expresses the relationship of being right, into which God puts the man who believes in Him. We can never be right with God through our own works or efforts. We can only be right with God through His grace.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus Christ took our sin and bore it upon the cross. He paid our sin debt. He took our sin and gave us His righteousness.

Believer, we will never be punished because we have the righteousness of Christ. We are as righteous as Christ is righteous. We stand complete in Him.

Last week, in talking about our position before God, we looked at:

Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV) And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight;

I said that this is our position, we are "above reproach." After the service someone came to me and brought verse 23 to my attention.

Colossians 1:23 (NKJV) if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

This verse, like the end of Romans 8:1, makes our being "above reproach" sound like it is dependent upon how we live. It makes it sound like we are above reproach "IF" we do certain things. Is our position dependent upon our performance? No! Our position is dependent upon Christ's work for us. The problem in this verse comes from the word "if." In the English we view this as "maybe, yes or maybe, no. But in the Greek this is a condition of the first class. Which means that it is determined as fulfilled, or assumed as true (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, volume 4, The Epistles of Paul, pg. 483). It should be translated "since." There is no condition expressed here on our part. We are above reproach because of God's grace. It is the same construction as found in:

Colossians 2:20 (NKJV) Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations;
Colossians 3:1 (NKJV) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

Who is Paul writing to in these verses? He is writing to Christians who live in Colosse:

Colossians 1:1-2 (NKJV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

All Christians have died with Christ and have been raised with Christ. In all of these verses, the "if" should be translated "since."

"Walking after the flesh" was not a problem only faced in the first century. Many today are "walking after the flesh", they are trying to gain favor with God by their works. They are trying to please God by the things that they do. That is "walking after the flesh". And to "walk after the flesh" is to be condemned. If you are trusting in something that you've done to get you into heaven, you'll never get there. To "walk after the Spirit" is to trust in Christ and Christ alone. To trust in Christ alone is to receive the righteousness of God and thus never face His punishment.

Galatians 3:6-7 (NKJV) just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
Romans 5:17 (KJV) For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

God's righteousness is a gift of grace. We could never earn it, and we could never deserve it. It is only by grace that you and I are given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We stand before God perfectly righteous, totally obedient in His sight.

If you are trusting to any degree in you own morality or religious attainments, or if you believe God will somehow recognize any of your good works as merit toward your salvation, you need to seriously consider if you are truly a Christian.

R. C. Sproul wrote:

Perhaps the most difficult task for us to perform is to rely on God's grace and God's grace alone for our salvation. It is difficult for our pride to rest on grace. Grace is for other people-- for beggars. We don't want to live by a heavenly welfare system. We want to earn our own way and atone for our own sins. We like to think that we will go to heaven because we deserve to be there.( "Suffering and Merit?", Tabletalk Magazine, vol 13, no. 1.)

Believer, we often fail to live as we should, we often sin and fall short of His glory. There are many times when we feel so far from God. But believer, hang on to the truth of Romans 8:1, there is no condemnation to us who are in Christ. God has made us righteous, he has made us accepted in the Beloved. We will never suffer His wrath, we will never face His punishment, because Jesus Christ has born it for us. That is what GRACE is all about. It is free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners.

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