No Condemnation

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Romans

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1–8)

The Old Testament law, the various regulations on how to live a perfect life in the eyes of God, is a sobering thing. The issue boils down to this: are you perfect? The answer is, of course, no. You might be seen as good person by your friends, and even your family, but in the eyes of God who sees all? Surely you'd have to answer: no. We are, to quote Paul, “weakened by the flesh”.

So what to do? Nothing! As the Apostle puts it: “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do”. Christ was sent in the “likeness of sinful flesh” and lived a perfect life. He fulfilled the Old Testament Law, and his perfection “condemned sin in the flesh”. Jesus, then, is in good standing with God. In fact, amongst humans he alone is good standing with God.

Well, you might be thinking, good for him! What about me? The point of all this is that it is possible to share in Jesus’ righteousness if you set your mind on “the things of the Spirit”. More of that tomorrow, but for now we can see that if we seek to live according to God’s Spirit we can share in Christ’s perfection. If, however, we reject all of that and live simply according to “the things of the flesh” we are lost.

Spirit or flesh? That is the key question.

Annie Warfield

In the late nineteenth century there was no-one quite like Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. A great scholar based at the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary he was such a staunch defender of traditional, orthodox Christianity that he was given the nickname “Lion of Princeton”.

Flesh and Spirit

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9–11)

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