Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1200 MP3 Audio File Video File

Good News For Christians

Romans 8:1-4

Delivered 01/07/24

 Good morning, Bereans. This is the first Sunday of 2024. I hope you have been able to keep up with your Bible reading so far.

I want to talk to you today about some really good news. I think we all could use some. Right now, our Country is going through some very turbulent times. The political and moral climate in America is in turmoil. Our way of life is under attack, and it's hard not to be a little anxious about the condition of our nation.

Our government is corrupt, and many politicians are doing all that they can to take away our freedoms and, thereby, to line their own pockets. It seems that justice has left the building as these corrupt politicians continually get away with murder—some literally. By the way, Epstein didn't kill himself!

So, I thought we'd start the year with some really good news for Christians. The good news is this: If you have put your faith in Christ, your eternal future is secure, and you will spend eternity with Christ in heaven. Nothing can change that. Nothing. Paul puts it this way:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Yeshua our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 ESV

Security is important because without security, we can't have peace. Can you imagine the emotional state of a child who does not know from day to day whether or not he is a member of the family? Today, since he was a good boy, he is considered a member. But tomorrow, if he misbehaves, he may no longer be a member. Today he is loved by his father. Tomorrow he may not be. This child would be a neurotic mess! We are a part of our family, regardless of our behavior. The same is true in the family of God. If you belong to Christ, you are part of the family and can enjoy the emotional security our Heavenly Father wants us to experience.

When the first section of the Golden Gate Bridge was built, there was no safety net to protect the workers. After twenty-three workers fell to their deaths in the waters far below the bridge, the city of San Francisco decided to spend an enormous sum to put a safety net under the next section. Amazingly, once the safety net was in place, only a handful of workers ever needed it. The work went faster, and the workers could concentrate on their jobs without worrying about the danger of death.

To be a productive Christian, you need to know that your future is secure; that's why understanding our eternal security is so important. It allows our fears to be dealt with, gives us confidence for the task at hand, and offers the emotional stability that we need. When we understand what the Bible has to say about God's security, we can readily see that the God who saved us, keeps us.

For our study this morning, we are going to look at the first four verses in Romans 8.  These verses present the believer with some really good news.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Yeshua.  Romans 8:1 ESV

"Therefore"—this always links us to what has already gone before us. What he is saying now is something that is related to something that he has said previously. How far back do we go? Some say this goes back to 7:6.

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.  Romans 7:6 ESV

This does fit, but I think we have to go back further to the Adam/Christ contrast of 5:12-21 because the condemnation that was imposed there is done away with here. We'll look at this in more detail in a moment.

Many commentators see chapters 6-8 dealing with sanctification, that is, personal growth in holiness. But I see the context from 5:20 thru 8:11 as being the Jewish believer's relationship to the Law of Moses. In 6:1, Paul's objector is asking, "Shall we stay under the Law so that sin will increase and grace will increase?" Romans 7 shows us Israel's failure to obey the Law. They desired to keep it, but they continually failed.

One thing that really stands out in chapter 8 is the number of times that the spirit is mentioned. The term "spirit" is mentioned only five times in the preceding seven chapters of the Epistle to the Romans and only once in Romans chapter 7. But when we turn to chapter 8, we have the Holy Spirit mentioned about twenty-one times, the greatest concentration of references to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (an average of one almost every two verses).

"Now no condemnation"—When we read this in the original text, we find that the emphasis rests upon the word "no." "There is now therefore no condemnation." "No" is an emphatic word in the Greek text.

The Greek word that Paul uses here for "condemnation" is katakrima (katakrima is the normal word for condemnation). Katakrima is only used three times in Scripture, all of them by Paul in Romans. Paul uses katakrima twice in Romans 5, and if we understand what it means there, his use of it in 8:1 really gets exciting.

And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.  Romans 5:16 ESV

We see here that Adam's sin resulted in judgment (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."

Adam's sin is imputed to all, this is condemnation, which is spiritual death, separation from God.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  Romans 5:18 ESV

Again, in this verse we see the same idea. Adam's transgression resulted in condemnation (katakrima) or spiritual death to all men. 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 spiritually 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.

Romans 5:12-21 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. That result is experienced by every member in their respective races. In Adam, there was nothing but death and hopelessness; but in Christ, there is life because He has brought His people out from under the rule and authority of the sin and the death.

There will never be, in the life of any believer, spiritual death. There will be chastening and discipline in this life, but there will never be any positional separation from God.

Who are those who can lay claim to "no condemnation"? There are parameters to that claim. This promise is only "for those who are in Christ Yeshua"—only those "who are in Christ Yeshua have life." Some are in Him and some are not. Paul assumes this everywhere in his writings. There are those "in Christ" and there are those "outside." Paul is not a universalist. He says explicitly in Romans 9:3, with grief, that there are those who are "accursed, separated from Christ." And we see in Matthew 25 that there are sheep and goats.

And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25:33-34 ESV

The sheep get eternal life, but the goats get eternal death.

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."  Matthew 25:46 ESV

The Bible does not teach universalism. Yeshua doesn't love and didn't die for everyone. When a man or a woman believes in the Lord Yeshua the Christ, they are placed in Christ. That is their position. And being in Him, they now are free of eternal judgment because the penalty has been paid by a substitute. The Lord Yeshua came and bore that judgment, and because our penalty has been paid, it is impossible for us to have that penalty laid upon us.

If you are in Christ, what happened to Him, happened to you. Union with Adam, the first man, led to our condemnation/death. Union with Yeshua the Christ, the last Adam, secured our righteousness/life. And this idea of our union with Him, who is our representative, is really the heart of the Pauline theology.

There is a textual problem with our verse. Depending on what translation you use, you might get different ideas of who it is that has no condemnation.

There is, then, now no condemnation to those in Christ Yeshua, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; Romans 8:1 YLT

Young's Living and the KJV have the phrase "who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." The NIV, NASB, CSB, CJB, ASV, ESV, and many others do not.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Yeshua.  Romans 8:1 ESV

So, the phrase, "who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" is in some translations and missing in other translations. If the phrase is in the text, we have to ask whether our not being condemned is a dependent upon our daily walk. If so, 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 to 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 of texts have the phrase, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." I believe that the Scriptures teach that our justification is unconditional, so how do we deal with this apparent dilemma?

I'm sure you would all admit that if our not being condemned/spiritually dead 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 this the following in Romans 8:8.

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  Romans 8:8 ESV

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

But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise.  Galatians 4:23 ESV

Ishmael had fleshly parents—Hagar and Abraham). But Isaac also had fleshly parents—Sarah and Abraham. It seems clear, then, that Paul uses "flesh" here in a sense that is not 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.

But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.  Galatians 4:29 ESV

When these two verses are viewed together, we can see that Paul is saying that Isaac was born by promise, according to the Spirit. Ishmael, on the other hand, was not born by promise of the Holy Spirit. Ishmael was born only after the flesh. Therefore, the word "flesh" cannot mean simply a biological process, and it can't mean evil acts. We can see what Paul means when we look at Galatians 4:24.

Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.  Galatians 4:24 ESV

Paul says, "these women are two covenants." Here, Paul reveals that the two women, Hagar and Sarah, in that Genesis account, actually represent the two covenants of God. More precisely, Hagar and Sarah represent the Old and New Covenants. Being born after the flesh or after the Spirit, then, does not refer to a difference in the physical aspects of their births or to the doing of sinful things per say. It pertains to two opposing covenants.

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. They 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."

In Paul's view, flesh and Spirit fall into redemptive-historical categories and serve to elucidate the contrasting natures of the two covenant ages. Seeking to live by law really boils down to seeking life independently of God—the basic sin of Adam. To walk after the flesh is to seek life in terms of what man can accomplish of himself.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 ESV

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, but we know that salvation is not of works.

Sowing to the flesh is seeking to live under the Old Covenant. And sowing to the Spirit is living under the New Covenant. It is trusting in Yeshua the Messiah.

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

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. Notice Paul's definition of a Christian in Philippians 3.

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Yeshua and put no confidence in the flesh—Philippians 3:3 ESV

To walk after the flesh is to seek to live under the Law. The Jews placed all their confidence in their possession of Torah. They were physical descendants of Abraham and, therefore, 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 a productive 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 in His finished work on Calvary.

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

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Yeshua from the law of sin and death.  Romans 8:2 ESV

John Piper writes, "Verse 1 is a declaration of no condemnation. Verse 2 is a description of practical transformation"(, "Set Free by the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus," October 7, 2001, p. 2). By practical transformation he means sanctification. This is not what this verse is talking about. By using "For" (gar in the Greek), Paul is giving the reason why there is no condemnation.

"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Yeshua—this is Torah of the Spirit, in the words, it is the New Covenant Torah. Wright states: "Speaking of Torah, after all, was a thoroughly Jewish way of speaking of God's saving action. Though Paul has spoken with eloquent passion of the way in which Torah locks the door on those who are imprisoned within Adamic humanity, he has never forgotten its promise of life. He can therefore speak, with deliberate but comprehensible paradox, of the Law itself as the agent of that which God has accomplished in the Messiah and by the Spirit."

Paul is saying the same thing here as he said in Romans.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.  Romans 7:4 ESV

When Paul declared that the Torah of the Spirit "has set you free," he was referencing the setting free of slaves. This is exodus language. Those in Christ are brought out of the Egypt of sin and death and made citizens in the kingdom of God. Paul puts this in the past tense. He uses the aorist verb "set you free," to establish that it has already happened by the Spirit's application of their union with Christ. They were set free from the "Law" of sin and the death.

There is a textual variant here. Some manuscripts have "me" and others have "you." "You" seems to be better supported. Paul is addressing each reader as an individual with this glorious message of freedom.

The Law of the Spirit is the same as the idea of given in Romans 6.

For one who has died has been set free from sin.  Romans 6:7 ESV

Through the death of Christ, they 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.

who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 2 Corinthians 3:6-9 ESV

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.

Those who have trusted Christ are free from the Law of the sin and of the death. They are no longer in the body of Adam/Moses but are in the body of Christ and are the eschatological bride who is under the Law of her new husband.

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, Romans 8:3 ESV

"God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do"—the meaning of the Greek term "could not do" is: "impossible." It is the word "able" with an alpha prefixed to it, meaning: "not able" or "impossible." What was impossible was for the Law to give life. It offered it, but could not deliver. It wasn't the Law's fault; the problem was in the flesh.

Now, this is nothing new in Romans! Over and over in the book of Romans we see that the Law cannot save. The Law was helpless to change this situation in the same way that the Law is helpless to change a marriage if it goes wrong. The Law was never intended to change the hearts of people. Its purpose was to protect the relationships that it recognized.

"Weakened by the flesh"—the NIV translates "flesh" here as "sinful nature." While most scholars acknowledge that, for Paul, sarx describes man in Adam (or in the kingdom of darkness), many commentators prefer an understanding of personal guilt.

Most Western commentators read Paul's letters (and the NT in general) from an Augustinian perspective. Augustine's understanding of the biblical teaching on sin was tainted by his background in Greek philosophical schools, which he explored before his conversion. The consequence of this mindset was that Paul's corporate view of sin was minimized, and the power of his argument lost. We have to guard against this individualization of the argument to control the passage. In the context of Romans 8:3, Paul is not writing about man's "sinful nature" but, rather, about his fallen condition in Adam.

"By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh"—what the Law couldn't do, God did. Salvation is the work of God.

"In the likeness of sinful flesh"—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. Christ's experience was not identical with man's because He did not share man's guilt, having never sinned. For this reason, Paul qualifies his description of Christ's coming by saying that He came in the "likeness of sinful man."

Paul does not mean that Yeshua was not fully human. He was. Had Yeshua only appeared to be human (the error of the Docetists), then He would not qualify as our Representative any more than an angel would qualify to represent us before God. Docetism essentially teaches that Yeshua was a divine being who merely looked as though He had human nature. In rather, He did not have our human nature. Yeshua was one hundred percent human, but He was sinless. (John 7:18; 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26;):

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  1 Peter 2:22 ESV

Yeshua's humanity was both actual and sinless simultaneously.

"And for sin"is the Greek, peri hamartias, which is the regular phrase that, in the LXX, translates the Hebrew terms for the specific sacrifice known as the sin offering. Christ's death is a sin offering; it is the Paschal offering that brings deliverance.

Now, remember God is so holy and so righteous that He will not put aside His Law of holiness and righteousness in order to save one individual. Instead of forgiving our sins without a penalty, He makes an anointed substitute pay for us.

"He condemned the sin in the flesh"—"condemned sin" is katakrino; to judge against. Sentence was passed and executed on sin in Christ's flesh. He condemned sin. He judged it with finality. The aorist tense emphasizes that He has already, with finality, condemned sin. There is no clearer statement found anywhere in Paul or anywhere else of the early Christian belief that what happened on the cross was the judicial punishment of sin. "In the flesh" is in Adam.

in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  Romans 8:4 ESV

"In order that"—is the Greek word, hina. It expresses the divine purpose that "the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us." This is a repeating of what Paul said in Rom 6:7: "Those who have died with Christ are freed from Sin." There is no charge that can be made against the new relationship. It is not an adulterous one as the Law's righteous requirements have been met in the representative, covenant-annulling death of Christ. The argument continues to be a corporate one, describing the conditions of two communities.

Commenting of this verse, John Stott writes:

Verse 4 is of great importance for understanding of Christian holiness. First, holiness is the ultimate purpose of the incarnation and atonement. The end God had in view when sending His Son was not our justification only, through freedom from the condemnation of the Law, but also our holiness, through obedience to the commandments of the Law. Secondly, holiness consists in fulfilling the just requirements of the Law. The moral law has not been abolished for us; it is to be fulfilled in us. Although law-obedience is not the ground of our justification (it is in this sense that we are 'not under the law but under grace'), it is the fruit of it and the very meaning of sanctification. Holiness is Christlikeness, and Christlikeness is fulfilling the righteousness of the Law. Thirdly, holiness is the work of the Holy Spirit. Romans 7 insists that we cannot keep the Law because of our indwelling 'flesh'; Romans 8:4 insists that we can and must because of the indwelling Spirit (221-222).

So, he sees verse 4 as something we are to do. He sees it as: God put His Son to death as a sin offering so we would live a holy life. But Paul uses the passive voice to emphasize that Yeshua the Christ fulfilled this requirement so that nothing of God's justice is unsatisfied and, thus, no more legal demand remains for us. Nothing is left for us to do in order to meet judicial satisfaction before God.

Along the same line as Stott, Tom Constable writes:

God fulfills the Law's requirements in us by His Spirit who indwells and empowers us. However, this is not automatic because He indwells us. He fulfills them if and as we walk by the Spirit rather than walking according to the flesh. Walking by the Spirit means walking in submission to and dependence on the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:16). Walking according to the flesh means behaving as the flesh dictates and allowing our sinful nature to govern our lives.

He also wants to make this about us and our obedience. But we have already seen that the phrase "who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" has nothing to do with how we act. It is about being under the Old Covenant, which is death or being under the New Covenant, which is life. This verse 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 that the Law requires? Righteousness! Covenant faithfulness.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

Yeshua the 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 separated from God 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 and, thereby, 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 out 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 have done to get you into heaven, you will never get there. To walk after the Spirit is to trust in Christ and in Christ alone. To trust in Christ alone is to receive the righteousness of God and thus to never face His punishment.

Believer, we often fail to live in love. So often we don't live a life that imitates Christ. We are so often selfish and self-centered. There are many times when because of our sinfulness we feel so far from God. But, believer, hang on to the truth of Romans 8:1 which establishes that there is no spiritual death, no positional separation from God to those of us who are in Christ. God has made us righteous. He has made us accepted in the Beloved. We will never suffer His wrath, and we will never face His punishment because Yeshua the Christ bore 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 righteous before God. Thank God that our eternal destiny is not determined by our works but by our trust in Christ's work. We can joyfully and confidently sing out the words written by Edward Mote. "My hope is built on nothing less than Yeshua's blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Yeshua's name." This, believers, is very good news.

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