Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
There are times in my life when I experience feelings of “condemnation” when I think about being in God’s presence. There is popular teaching today that would have you to believe that is always “false guilt” and as such is always wrong. I’m not sure. Let me explain.
First, it is emphatically true that anytime Satan or the world tries to convince you that something is true about you that the Bible says is not… that is false guilt. If Satan tries to convince you that God can’t love you… that’s false. If the world tells you God doesn’t care about you because He’s allowing you to suffer… that’s false.
But there are times when we don’t FEEL lovable or cared for because WE are walking “according to the flesh”, not “according to the Spirit”. During these times we have to learn to differentiate what is true about us spiritually and judiciously, versus what is a legitimate emotional result of not LIVING that judicial truth.
There are times a true Christian feels condemned because
they are walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit.
Simply put, we don’t always get to enjoy the emotional benefits of feeling secure, loved or forgiven IF we aren’t pursuing a devoted, intimate relationship with God. It doesn’t change the FACT that a true Christian is secure, loved and forgiven…. but it certainly may be hard to feel like we are when WE are living a life “according to the flesh”.
At this point, I feel obligated to give you a brief exposition of Romans 8.1 so that there won’t be any confusion between the proper contextual interpretation of the verse, and my practical application of it. (let me also say here that this is not a lesson about “once saved always saved”. For the sake of this devotional, let’s assume that we are talking about a Christian who is truly saved, and one that is in no way denying or rejecting Christ)
The Apostle Paul spends the first seven chapters of Romans demonstrating the truth of salvation – justification by faith alone. Then in verse 1 of the chapter, he declares the incredible result: THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST.
This is a judicial pronouncement. It is like being declared innocent by a court. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it. It doesn’t matter what others say about it, or whether or not anyone believes or understands it. It is a FACT that those who are “in Christ Jesus” are once and for all, completely, utterly and eternally free of condemnation in the site of God.
The second half of the verse seems to indicate a “condition” on “no condemnation” but the earlier manuscripts of the Bible only have this phrase (“who do not walk…according to the Spirit”) at the end of verse four, not at the end of verse one. This appears that it might have been inserted accidentally by a copyist. Remember, early copies of the Bible were all painstakingly hand written.
Regardless, when the verse is considered in the entire context of Romans, the meaning is clear and unchanged. The truly saved are declared judicially free of condemnation. That is the direct interpretation of the verse.
On a practical application level, the phrase “to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” reminds us of the reality that sometimes we don’t emotionally experience “no condemnation” (sorry for the horrible grammar) when we are living life directed by our own flesh instead of walking consistently by the Spirit of God.
This works on many levels of the Christian life. There are facts that are true about us as Christians, but often times it depends on how WE are living that determines whether or not we get to enjoy the emotional confirmation of that truth. For example:
- It’s a fact that a person who is truly saved has been declared righteous and forgiven (theological term: justification) in God’s eyes because of Christ’s work on the cross.
- But we may not feel righteous and forgiven during those times in our lives when we are not walking close to God, pursuing our personal desires more than the will of God.
- It’s a fact that as Christians, the perfect sinlessness of Christ is applied to us (theological term: imputation) when we are saved and God no longer sees us as we are, God sees us how He sees Christ.
- But, we routinely do not experience the emotional sense of sinlessness because we choose constantly to go our own way, to obey our flesh rather than “walk in the Spirit”.
- It’s a fact that our salvation is secure in Christ. No man can take it from us; Satan can’t take it from us. The person who has responded to Christ according to Scripture has been assured beyond doubt that the free gift of eternal life has been given to them by God the Father, made possible by God the Son.
- But, we experience times of emotional insecurity and doubt about our salvation because we neglect our relationship with God in many ways: by sinning, my not spending time with God, by not feeding on the Word of God consistently.
In the same manner, it is a fact that there is “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”. If you have responded to Christ, then you have been pronounced innocent of your sin, adopted into God’s family, a co-heir with Christ and every other Christian, and you can be confident that God sees perfect and sinless because of Jesus.
When you do have times of feeling “condemned” when you think of God, that is a good indication that there is sin or neglect in your life that needs to be dealt with. Don’t ignore those feelings, God allows them for our own good. Rest in the FACT that you are not condemned in God’s eyes, but never take rest when there areas that you are walking “according to the flesh” (sin, neglect of God, lack of prayer, not reading the Bible, etc.)
For the true Christian, feelings of “condemnation” can often help reveal areas of sin your life. But praise to our glorious God, we can take comfort always in that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” That’s a fact, Jack.
Lord, Help us to learn to walk in intimate obedient to You so that we may experience a life of security and peace. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Are you feeling guilty or under condemnation? How’s your spiritual life? Do you daily feed on God’s Word? Do you see any parallel to your daily time with God and your feelings of unrest or insecurity?
Application: For the true Christian, feelings of “condemnation” can often help reveal areas of sin your life. But praise to our glorious God, we can take comfort always in that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.“
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?