In this message we shall consider 8:1-11. In 8:1 Paul says, “There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is easy for us to take this verse for granted and assume that we understand it, perhaps thinking that the condemnation here is the same as that spoken of in chapter three. But the condemnation described in chapters two and three has been removed before 8:1. Hence, the condemnation in this verse is of another kind, a condemnation that is within us. The condemnation in chapters two and three is something before God, not something according to our inward sense or consciousness. It is an objective condemnation, a condemnation according to God’s law. Before we were saved, we probably did not have any realization that in the sight of God we were condemned according to His righteous law. When we believed in the Lord Jesus, that condemnation was removed by Christ’s redeeming blood. Hallelujah, this condemnation has been washed away by the blood of Jesus! Therefore, we no longer have this condemnation.
We should not confuse the condemnation in chapters two and three with that in 8:1. The condemnation in this verse is subjective; it is something inward that is according to our inner sense and also according to our Christian conscience. This is clear when we realize that 8:1 immediately follows chapter seven. If we read chapter seven carefully, we shall see that it describes a war within the various parts of our being. We know that as human beings we are made of more than one basic part. As a result of the fall, the various parts of our being are not in harmony with one another.
In chapter seven Paul, the writer of the book of Romans, tells us that a war is raging among his inward parts. One part wills to keep the law of God perfectly and to the uttermost. This part desires to delight in God, to please God, and to satisfy God. Thus, in 7:22 Paul says, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man.” However, when this part of our being is exercised to do good and fulfill the law, another part rises up to fight. This part always defeats that part which delights in the law of God. Therefore, 7:23 says, “But I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and making me a captive in the law of sin which is in my members.” The good part is defeated every time. We may take sides with this good part and stand with it against the other part, but we always suffer defeat and lose the battle.
We have pointed out that in 7:23 Paul speaks of being made a captive in the law of sin which is in his members. Is it not a pitiful situation to become a captive in this way? Yet we must realize that as Christians we may be captured every day by this law of sin. We are not captured by giant enemies outside of us, but by small enemies within us, for example, by our temper. Often we speak of losing our temper. Actually, it is more accurate to speak of being captured by the law of sin. It is not a matter of losing our temper; it is a matter of being a captive in the law of sin in our members.
Romans 7:24 says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” This cry is related to the condemnation in 8:1. This is not the condemnation that is objective and before God; it is the condemnation that is subjective, the condemnation within us. Furthermore, this condemnation is not a problem to God, but it becomes a problem to us.
Not many unbelievers experience this kind of condemnation. However, nearly all seeking Christians have a problem with it. When you did not seek the Lord but instead loved the world, you did not have this problem. But when you began to love the Lord and seek Him, you spontaneously made up your mind to improve, even to be perfect and love the Lord to the uttermost. This decision gives rise to the war described in Romans 7. Making up our mind to do good or to improve ourselves stirs up the law of sin in our members. It causes all the little enemies within to rise up and fight against us. There are many enemies within us. However, if a Christian does not love the Lord very much, or if he does not make up his mind to please the Lord, these enemies will not bother him. But as soon as he makes up his mind to do good, the enemies rise up.
In verse 25 Paul goes on to say, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve as a slave the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” This is the conclusion of chapter seven. In this chapter we are not given the way to be delivered from subjective condemnation. Therefore, chapter eight is necessary.
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