“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Rm 8:1-2)
Paul starts this chapter by saying that there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Condemnation is one of the strongest weapons Satan uses to control us. Whenever we commit a sin, Satan comes to us, makes us feel guilty, and condemns us. By doing so, Satan keeps trying to separate us from God.
However, the Scripture says that there can’t be condemnation for those who believe in Jesus. That’s not because our sins don’t matter, but because Jesus already paid the price for our sins on the cross. Paul said in verse 3,
“God [sent] his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3)
In the Old Testament, a sin offering referred to an animal sacrificed to the Lord for atonement. Whenever the Israelites committed a sin, they had to give a sin offering to God so that their sins would be forgiven.
Paul is now saying that Jesus came to us as a sin offering. That’s one of the important reasons the Son of God became human like us. A spirit can’t bleed or die. Unless Jesus came to the world in the likeness of flesh, He wouldn’t be able to be our sin offering.
The good news, however, is that Jesus indeed became flesh, and God condemned our sins in His flesh. As the lamb of God who took away the sin of the world, Jesus bore our sins in His flesh and died on the cross on our behalf so that we might be forgiven and justified.
That’s why Paul boldly proclaimed that there’s no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. In Jesus, we experience true forgiveness. There’s no sin that the blood of Jesus Christ can’t cleanse. In Jesus, we are completely forgiven and become righteous.
So, if we are really in Christ Jesus, no one can condemn us. Even we can’t condemn ourselves. Paul said in verses 33-34,
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one.” (Rm 8:33)
The One who tells us that we are righteous is God. God has chosen us and justified us through Jesus Christ. All our past sins are completely forgiven in Him. It’s important to accept this as Christians.
Condemnation is what Satan uses to try and separate us from God. Satan continues to condemn us and make us deny the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. By doing so, Satan puts us under the reign of sin and enslaves us to sin.
As weak human beings, we easily stumble and fall down. Because of the powerful sinful nature within us, we often find ourselves disobeying God’s commands and following the sinful nature of our flesh.
However, even when we fall down because of our sin, we should return to Jesus, reminding ourselves of the fact that true forgiveness is only found in Him and that there’s no condemnation in Him. We shouldn’t be deceived by the condemnation that comes from Satan.
When we feel condemnation, we should remember what Jesus said to the adulterous woman in John 8. When everyone condemned her for her adultery and even tried to publicly kill her by stoning her, Jesus said to her,
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”… neither do I condemn you” (Jn 8:10-11)
Jesus never condemns us, but embraces sinners like us with His unconditional love and redemption. He empathizes with our weaknesses. So, even when we sin, we should approach God’s throne of grace with confidence in Jesus, believing that all our sins have already been forgiven on the cross. And He will surely help us in our time of need and give us strength to fight against sin.
The Law of the Spirit
In verse 2, Paul said, “The law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:2)
In the previous chapter, Paul confessed that he was caught between God’s law and the law of sin. Even though he delighted in God’s law and wanted to do good according to it, he kept on doing evil when he didn’t want to because of the sin living inside him.
By saying this, Paul clearly showed us the limit of the law. Even though it allows us to know what good and evil are, it can’t save us from the law of sin. So, to be free from the law of sin, we need another, new law powerful enough to suppress our sinful nature.
And, Paul said that the new law has been given to us. It’s called the law of the Spirit. The law of the Spirit has freed us from the law of sin and death.
Paul continued in verses 3-4,
“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rm 8:3-4)
Understanding these verses is essential for Christian life. Here, Paul clearly acknowledges the limit of the law. The law is powerless. It convicts us but doesn’t give us the power to keep it. We can’t completely follow the law because we’re weakened by our flesh.
So, God did two important things to renew us. First, as we talked about earlier, God sent His Son Jesus as an offering for our sins to set us free from the reign of sin and condemnation. Sin is still powerful, but it can’t rule over us anymore.
And, second, God sent us the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus was caught by soldiers, He promised to His disciples,
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth.” (Jn 14:16-17)
Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to help them. Right before saying this, He told them,
“If you love me, keep my commands.” (Jn 14:15)
To love Jesus is to keep His commands. And, what Jesus implies is that we can truly love Him and keep His commands only through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Before ascending to heaven, Jesus promised to His disciples again,
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Ac 1:8)
The Holy Spirit helps us and gives us the power to overcome our sinful nature and do what God wants us to do. As Paul said, the only way for us to suppress the law of sin and fully meet the requirements of the law of God is to live according to the Spirit. That’s how God restores us and renews us in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. There’s no other way.
Without the Holy Spirit, we can’t keep God’s word. Without the Holy Spirit, we can’t understand the truth in God. And, without the Holy Spirit, we can’t be true disciples of Jesus. So, the Holy Spirit gives life to Christians.
Paul said in verses 13-14,
“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Rm 8:13-14)
In Galatians chapter 5, Paul also said,
“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16)
The way for us to keep God’s law has been given to us. God not only saved us from sin through Jesus, but also gives us the power to overcome our sin and follow His will through the Holy Spirit.
Because there’s no condemnation for us when we are in Jesus, we’re no longer caught between God’s law and the law of sin anymore. The Holy Spirit strengthens us and enables us to do what we were unable to do before.
This is great news for us. Before the Holy Spirit came to us, we didn’t have any choice but to follow our sinful desires. Even though we knew what was good and what was bad, we couldn’t help but continue to follow our sin nature because we didn’t have any power to resist it.
But now, the Holy Spirit is in us. He gives us new life and sets us free from the law of sin and death. And, if we live according to the Holy Spirit, we can put to death the misdeeds of our body and truly love and follow Jesus by keeping His commands and proclaiming His goodness through our words and lives.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” (Eph 3:16)
This is what I continuously pray for all of us. I really pray that we will always be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can live holy lives in the world, loving the Father and those around us, and so that we may glorify Him who saved us and guides us through the Holy Spirit to the end.