By: Alson B H Percival (Venerable Dr.)
The Apostle Paul was commissioned by the Holy Spirit to declare to the church that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (v1). This word condemnation simply means “no judgment.” Indeed, when someone condemns you the person has judged you; found you guilty, made you a prisoner with a full sentence. But the Apostle makes it clear, that in Christ being washed in His blood there is no condemnation. Paul’s point is that freedom is not sometime later, it is now. It means that today there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
What do we have to prove this? The glorious news is that God has intervened; so that in the gospel of salvation through His Son He has provided a faith-righteousness that avails in His sight. Paul adds that the Law and the Prophets attest to this provision of righteousness. The simple fact is that this righteousness is available, and this righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (see v. 22).
It is clear then that because: all have sinned, and all are justified freely by God’s grace. The verbal expression “all have sinned” can be taken in one of two ways. “All have committed acts of sin” referring to personal sins and the other way is, to take it in conjunction with Romans 5:12 referring to Adam’s sin, thinking more of the unity of the race. The former seems preferable here, in view of the consequence of the sin “and are coming short” of the glory of God. The falling short need not be equally short for all people; that is not important. The point is that all have missed it, whether by a little or a lot and that is fatal (see vv23-24).
As Christians, we could quit right now, and some may very well decide to do so. After a few minutes in the house or in someone’s company many people may feel condemned by God. They know they are sinners and see no way out; verse 1 is a powerful ray of hope for addressing that burden.
Justification is not a process, it is a once and for all act. It means that God declares all whoever believes in Christ to be righteous. The act of grace by which God pardons all the believer’s sins and accepts the believer as righteous is because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ; that is what is credited to the believer’s account. It is this wonderful act of God that is known as justification by faith. Believers do not become righteous through faith; they are declared righteous by God. Believers are justified “without a cause” or “for any reason.”
Recognizing this gift, Lenski says, “Pure, abounding, astounding grace.” Yes! Our justification originates in the loving heart of God. This justification is through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. One writer says Christians are “ransoming away with the idea of never again coming into the same bondage.” The form of the word certainly harmonizes with other teachings on the certainty of salvation. The price that Jesus paid for redemption was his outpoured blood says Peter (see 1 Pet. 1:18, 19). He paid enough for the sins of the whole world so our faith-righteousness was secured forever
In verses 2-4 Paul discusses the new life. Verse 2 introduces the first of a series of contrasts: Spirit and life over against sin and death. The Christ-believer has been set free “from the law of sin and of death.” For Paul, verse 3, the Law of Moses was weakened by the flesh and therefore was unable to remove the condemnation caused by sin. What God did was to condemn sin itself. God did that by sending God’s “own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Oh yes! Christ was a full human being; he has a human body; but He did not misuse His body; hence. Christ was able to be a sin offering and condemned sin in the flesh.
We see then, that, the result of the death of Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law in and for those “who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (verse 4). Walk is a term for how people live their lives. Today we say, “She not only talks the talk, she also walks the walk.” The positive walk is one according to the Spirit, over against the negative walk of the flesh. So then all Christians must let Romans 8:2-11 speak to them. This text raises a good point, who is in charge? Who calls the shots? What is our mindset? What is important to us? In a time in which anxiety and worry seem to constitute the air we breathe, how we walk, who dwells in us, and on what we focus may be exactly the questions we need to explore.