In this message we shall continue our consideration of Romans 8:1-6. As we have seen, Romans 8 is a sharp contrast to Romans 7. In Romans 7 we see the bondage of the law in our flesh, and in Romans 8 we see the freedom of the Spirit in our spirit. As we come to chapter eight, we turn from bondage in the flesh to freedom in the Spirit.
At the end of Romans 7 Paul cried out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” (v. 24). Paul opened chapter eight by saying, “There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). In the book of Romans there are two kinds of condemnation: the outward, objective condemnation and the inward, subjective condemnation. The outward condemnation comes from God, and the inward condemnation comes from ourselves. We see the objective condemnation of God in the early chapters of Romans, for example in 3:19 which says “that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become subject to the judgment of God.” Hence, objective condemnation results from being under the righteous judgment of God. This type of condemnation is completely solved by the redeeming blood of Christ. Christ’s redeeming blood has saved us from the judgment of God.
The inward, subjective condemnation is found in chapter seven. When Paul lamented, “Wretched man that I am,” he was not experiencing the condemnation of God, but the condemnation that came from himself, the self-condemnation of one who tries to keep the law. This condemnation comes from the person himself, not from God. The more you attempt to be good and fulfill the law, the more inward condemnation you will have. If you are a careless person, never trying to be good, you will not experience inward condemnation. However, if you say, “I must be right and perfect,” you will be condemned by yourself. The more you try to improve yourself, the more self-condemnation you will be under. The condemnation in Romans 7 is that of a person outside of Christ, although it is experienced by many Christians who attempt to fulfill the law after they are saved. This condemnation does not come from God. God would say, “Stupid child, I don’t want you to have this kind of condemnation. You have caused this trouble for yourself.” Many Christians, having solved the problem of objective condemnation, have created for themselves the problem of inward condemnation. Some have been so condemned that they could not eat or sleep properly. I even know of some people who developed mental problems due to subjective condemnation. Some brothers condemned themselves severely for not loving their wives, and certain sisters judged themselves for not being kind to their husbands. Eventually, the sense of subjective condemnation became so extreme they developed mental problems. Such people are under a tremendous weight of self-condemnation.
Paul, after his cry of wretchedness at the end of chapter seven, declared in a victorious way, “now then no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” This means that what he experienced in Romans 7 was not an experience in Christ. Without Christ, or outside of Christ, he struggled according to the law in his mind to keep the law of God in order that he might please God, but he was totally defeated by the law of sin. That occurred when he was without Christ. Thus Paul condemned himself. He had a deep conviction of this inward, subjective condemnation. But “now” “in Christ Jesus” there is no longer this kind of condemnation. Paul had “no condemnation” because in Christ he did not need to keep the law of God by himself, an effort which produced self-condemnation; “no condemnation” because in Christ he had the law of the Spirit of life which is more powerful than the law of sin and which set him free from the law of sin; “no condemnation” now, not because of the redeeming blood of Christ which removed the objective condemnation of God, but because of the law of the Spirit of life which brought in the freedom of the Spirit in his spirit and which broke through all his subjective condemnation; and “no condemnation” because he was freed from both the law of God and the law of sin.
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