There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. — Romans 8:1
Lowell Montgomery was a longtime minister of the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon. Although he suffered from serious physical challenges in his later years, he was known for his cheerful attitude, and his perpetual smile was an encouragement to everyone with whom he came in contact. It was hard to imagine that “Brother Monty,” as we called him, ever could have been a tight-fisted, proud, and unhappy man, but according to his testimony, that was the case. And what condemnation rested on his heart once God revealed to him his true spiritual condition!
Brother Monty testified about initially resenting any implication that he needed salvation. He recounted, “I told the young man who invited me to an Apostolic Faith service, ‘I do not smoke cigarettes, drink, carouse around, or play cards.’ (The truth is, I was too cheap to do any of those things.) I was not a thief, and I did my work faithfully. I thought I was all right.” However, when he finally agreed to attend a church service, Brother Monty heard testimonies that opened his eyes to the truth about his spiritual condition. He said, “I found out I was not so good; there was sin in my life. I had a covetous heart. Everything I got hold of, I wanted to keep, and I did keep it! I deprived my little wife of things she easily could have had. When she would ask me for something, I would say, ‘Do you need it?’ Because of my covetousness, our home was nearly broken up.
“That Sunday night, though, I left church feeling condemned. The next morning, someone asked how I liked the service and I replied, ‘I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t like the singing, the testimonies, or the preaching, and I am not going back!’ He said to me, ‘You might like it better next time.’”
God’s people prayed for the young couple, and the Holy Spirit began to strive with their hearts. Brother Monty came back to church with his wife but refused to yield to God even though he was under heavy conviction. The condemnation in his heart made him miserable and unhappy. He recalled, “One time I went out to my car after church, put my head on the steering wheel, and cried like a baby. My wife said, ‘If you want to go pray, I will wait here,’ but I would not humble myself to do it. However, the night finally came when I bent my knees at the altar of prayer and asked God to have mercy on me, a sinner. The enemy of my soul said, ‘You can’t get it.’ I got up to go, but I couldn’t find an empty aisle to get out so I went back to the altar and dropped on my knees once more. There I said, ‘Lord, sink or swim, live or die, I’ll serve You.’ In a moment of time, God saved my soul.”
Brother Monty ended his testimony by saying, “My wife and I would not have stayed together much longer if I had not gotten saved, but the Lord saved both of us and restored our love for each other. Today we have a happy home, and have enjoyed many years of serving the Lord together. I will never cease to thank God for the day that condemnation was lifted and God put peace into my heart!”
In our focus verse, Paul spoke of the condemnation (a verdict of wrongdoing before God) that rests upon the life of an unsaved individual. Justification, the remedy for that condemnation, occurs when God cancels the guilt and forgives the transgressions of a sinner. That was what Brother Monty experienced on the memorable day he finally yielded to God.
Justification takes more than accepting Christ, joining a church, or even striving to live by certain Christian principles. The first step toward receiving this experience is realizing the need for it. When a sinner comes to God with genuine sorrow for committed sins and confesses them, God will forgive. Pardon is granted, condemnation is gone, and the “Spirit itself beareth witness” (Romans 8:16), assuring the new believer that he has been justified by God.
Today, are you living under condemnation? God still offers justification to those who are burdened by sin. Like Brother Monty, you can be forgiven and have peace with God.
Having described in Romans 7 the futility of trying to be religious while still in bondage to the carnal nature, in this chapter Paul went on to describe victory over the former controlling force. In verses 1-13 he explained the power over indwelling sin which comes through entire sanctification, and in verses 14-39, the believer’s assurance in Christ.
When the Apostle asserted in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation . . .” he was looking at the totality of sin: both committed sins and the carnal nature of sin with which all humanity is born. The phrase “no condemnation” refers to more than mere judicial acquittal; it also indicates deliverance from the condition described in Romans 7:7-25 (the disposition and sinful inclination of the flesh). Once freed from the dominion of sin, the believer is enabled by the Spirit of God to live in the righteousness provided by God.
Verses 2-4 bring out the conflict between two opposing forces: man lives either under the control of carnality or under control of the Spirit of God. In verse 3, Paul alluded to “what the law could not do,” pointing out again that the Law had no power to change the heart. He indicated in verse 4 that the Law is “fulfilled” (satisfied or made possible) in the lives of those who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
The Apostle further explained life in the Spirit in verses 5-11, in which the “flesh” and the “Spirit” refer to two contrasting ways of life. In verse 13, he warned that living in the Spirit does not eliminate the possibility of sinning, but mortifying (putting to death) the deeds of the flesh does empower one to live without sinning.
Verses 14-17 address the topic of adoption and the believer’s eternal co-inheritance with Christ. In the Roman culture of Paul’s day, an adopted son could be chosen to carry on the name of his father and inherit his estate; though grafted into the family through a legal process, he had no lesser standing than a biological child. The form of address used in verse 15, “Abba,” was an intimate way of referring to the father equivalent to our word “daddy” or “papa.” The statement in verse 16 that “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit” implies a joint affirmation between the Spirit of God and the human spirit (or conscience) rather than a divine declaration to the human spirit.
In verses 18-30, Paul encouraged the believers in Rome to take courage from both the assistance of the Spirit and the thought of the glory which awaited them in the age to come. The word “infirmities” in verse 26 includes the whole range of human frailties: scars from past experiences, limited perspectives, temperamental differences, mistakes and faults, physical weariness, and stresses. While the carnal nature is eradicated at sanctification, human weakness remains; this is the area where spiritual growth occurs.
Paul’s assertion in verse 28 that God works out all things for good does not mean that every incident that occurs in this world is good, but that every detail fits into His eternal purpose for our ultimate good.
Foreknowledge and predestination are topics Paul alluded to in verses 29-30. God chose all humanity to be made righteous by His grace (see John 3:16), but His foreknowledge identifies individuals He knows will respond with repentance and faith. The word predestinate in verse 30 means “to predetermine.” God’s predetermined purpose for all mankind is that everyone should be “conformed to the image of his Son,” but each person must choose whether or not he wants to be a participant in God’s perfect plan. Those who choose to participate are identified in verse 33 as “God’s elect.”
In verses 31-39, Paul describes the victory of believers. The chapter ends with the Apostle’s question in verse 35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” and his triumphant response in verses 37-39 that no external forces can deprive those who are “more than conquerors” of God’s presence.
(Hannah's Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. God’s plan of salvation
B. God’s remedy
2. Entire sanctification (freedom from inbred sin)
e. Power over sin (entire sanctification) (8:1-14)
f. Assurance in Christ (8:15-39)
(1) Children of God (8:15-17)
(2) Glory ahead (8:18-25)
(3) Help of the Spirit (8:26-30)
(4) Triumph in difficulties (8:31-39)
Those who yield their lives to God have the guilt and penalty of sin removed from their lives and are free to live a life without His condemnation.