Pastor David B. Curtis


No Condemnation!

Romans 8:1-4

Delivered 11/07/1997

I trust that you all had a good Thanksgiving. We certainly don't lack for things to be thankful for in this country; we have so much. We have truly been blessed by God. But what if we didn't have all that we do in this country; could you still be thankful? Let's say that you didn't have your health. What if you were very sick; could you still be thankful? What if you were not financially blessed; could you be thankful in poverty? What if you didn't have a family or friends; could you be alone and still be thankful? What if you didn't have your freedom, if you were imprisoned could you still be thankful? Maybe you fell like you can't even answer these questions; you are not sure how you would respond to difficult circumstances.

I think that we should be able to answer all these questions in the affirmative. If you are a Christian you should be able to be thankful in any and every situation because you have eternal life. We are immortal and because of our trust in Jesus, we will never die. Look with me at the attitude of Habakkuk, which is the attitude we all should have.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NKJV) Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls; 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

Habakkuk describes the worse case scenario he can think of; if his world comes crashing down around him, he says he will rejoice in the Lord. Can you say that? You should be able to, if you understand your position in Christ Jesus. Look with me at one of the most comforting, encouraging verses in all of Scripture.

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.

This theme of no 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. We who believe in Jesus Christ will never be condemned.

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 judgement, 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.

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. Judgement resulted in condemnation, katakrima, or punishment.

The one man's offence 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 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.

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. Now let's go back to our text in 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, to those in Christ Jesus. We 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? 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 have 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.

So, the majority of texts have the phrase "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" in them, but I believe that the Scriptures teach that our justification is unconditional, so how do we deal with this?

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 in:

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 power 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 bondwoman, 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, 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.

The despair over the power of sin and the weakness of the flesh, that Paul addressed in Romans 7, is not a reference to one's lack of performance or ability to obey. The problem is that a man's performance takes him in the wrong direction in terms of leading one to trust in one's own righteousness.

Romans 7:19 (NKJV) For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

Paul was not talking about not having enough strength to do what he wanted to do, or being so weak that he always did what he knew was wrong. His ability to perform or observe the law is not the subject here. On that point Paul has a good record:

Philippians 3:4-6 (NKJV) though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

This is the problem; in keeping the law blamelessly, Paul could not do the good he wanted to do, which was to be established in God's righteousness. Instead, what he did not want to do (have a self-righteousness) is the very thing that he could not avoid. Law keeping gave him confidence in the flesh. This is why Paul cried out in;

Romans 7:24 (NKJV) O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Paul's natural body was a body of sin, he is referring to the old man in Adam.

Romans 6:6 (NKJV) knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

Paul's answer to the question of deliverance was Christ:

Romans 7:25 (NKJV) I thank God; through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
Romans 10:4 (NKJV) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The deliverance is seen as taking place through Christ's death, and therefore Paul's death or crucifixion with him. It was death to the age of law.

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 decedents 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 Christ, is to have confidence in the flesh.

To walk in the Spirit, is to trust in Christ and His finished work on Calvary. 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 stedfastly 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! Jesus summed up the whole law this way:

Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment. 39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

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 by trusting in Him.

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.

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. For example; Catholic theology says, "By my deeds I can not only earn merit for myself but if I earn more merit than I need to get into heaven; my extra merit goes into the treasury of merit to be applied to someone else to get them our of purgatory." What that says is not only can I by my merit earn my own salvation, but I can over earn it and apply what is left over to someone else's salvation. 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. For a biblical example of this look at:

Luke 18:10-14 (NKJV) "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' 13 "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

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 3:21-22 (NKJV) But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
Romans 5:17 (KJV) For if by one man's offence 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. We could never earn it, and we could never deserve it. You and I are given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We stand before God perfectly righteous, totally obedient in His sight.

Believer, we often fail to live as salt and light, 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.

No matter what our situation in life may be, if we are a Christian we have cause to be thankful. We will never be condemned. We stand before God righteous. Thank God, our eternal destiny is not determined by our works but by our trust in Christ's work. We can joyfully and confidently sign out the words written by Edward Mote. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

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