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Romans 8:1-4

Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
March 21, 2004

In John 8:1-11, we're told the story of how the teachers of the law brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in adultery. By law, she should be stoned (Lev. 20:10). The Bible tells us that Jesus silenced her accusers one by one, until they all left. And when He and the woman were left alone, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" And when she said, "No one, Lord", Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (vv. 10-11).

This gives us a picture of what has happened to us now that we have placed our trust in the blood of Jesus. The law had condemned us - and rightly so. But by His blood, He has removed the power of the law to condemn us any further. And now, Jesus - who is both the atoning sacrifice for and the righteous Judge of His own law - looks at us and says, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." There is now "no condemnation" from the law for those who are in Christ - in whom God Himself works to bring the righteous requirements of the law to fulfillment so that we progressively "go and sin no more".

This the great truth that Paul affirms in these first four wonderful verses of Romans 8.

A. Paul doesn't say that there's now no further sin in us, or that there's now perfect conformity to the letter of the law in us. Sadly, even in Christ, we still sin and fall short of the standards of the law. But what Paul is careful to say is that, for us who are in Christ, there is therefore now "no condemnation" from the law.
1. The word "therefore" indicates a logical inference from what had proceeded it - that is the things that Paul has said in his letter to the Romans prior to this point. (3:21-26; 4:4-5; 5:1-2; 20-21). These things lead to the logical inference that there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ.

2. This is very good news to those of us who have trusted Christ but who still struggle with sin in our lives. This struggle is good sign; because unredeemed people don't struggle with sin. Someone in whom God is working, however, hates the sin in their lives, and struggles with and wars against it. They experience the struggle Paul describes in 7:7-25; and so this verdict of "no condemnation" comes as very good news indeed!

B. Paul emphasizes the "no" in the phrase "no condemnation". In the original language of Paul's letter, it is placed in the emphatic position. Literally, Paul is saying, "NO CONDEMNATION therefore now ..." No matter how intensely you now feel that struggle against sin within; no matter how you may have failed in that struggle in the past; and no matter how you may fail in the future; if you are in Christ, there is therefore now - emphatically - "no condemnation" for you from the law.

C. Notice also the word "now". There is, therefore "now" no condemnation. It's not just that there will be no condemnation when you finally stand before God's throne in heavenly glory, or that God has given a declaration of "no condemnation" in the past, but offers no guarantee that such a declaration will always last if we should blow it. Rather, for the believer, "no condemnation" is a fact that exists in an eternal, unending "now" - because it's based, not on the believers performance in the law, but on the reality of the believer being "in Christ Jesus".


A. In these two verses, Paul is using the word "law" in two different ways; and we must be careful to differentiate them.
1. One way is as a reference to the law of God as expressed in the Ten Commandments. In verse three, he speaks of what "the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh ..." And there, he is speaking of the "law" as commandments.

2. But another way is as a reference to a "principle of operation". In verse two, he says that "the law" [or operating principle] "of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law" [or operating principle] "of sin and death". We use the word "law" in this second way very often in everyday life - as when we speak of the "law of gravity". By that, we mean that there is a "principle of operation" that we call "gravity"; and whenever we climb a roof or fly in a plane, we're conscious of that particular "principle of operation".

B. In verse two, Paul is saying that we are no longer condemned by the law, because we are now under a different "principle of operation" - a different "law" - than the one we used to be under.

1. Before Christ, we operated under the requirement of strict conformity to the law - which, for us, was a principle of "sin and death". Paul tells us that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). And that goes to show you where our problem lies - not in the law, but in us. As soon as we encounter the commandment of God, it causes sin to spring up within us and produce death (Rom. 7:8-11). So long as we try to achieve righteousness before God on the basis of the law, we will fail - because we will be operating under the principle of sin and death.

2. But in Christ, we have been made to operate on a completely different principle than the one under which we used to operate. Instead of my seeking to be righteous before God on the basis of His law, God has placed His Holy Spirit in me; and it's the Spirit of God who lives out the life that is pleasing to God in me. This new life of righteousness is a life I live by faith - not by works (Gal. 5:16-24).

C. The otherwise good and powerful law of God, in and of itself, cannot bring about in us anything but sin and death in us. But Paul goes on to affirm that, what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin (v. 3). The law cannot make us righteous; But what the law could not do, God did.

1. God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. He came to be conceived in the womb of Mary as fully human - but coming as close as He could be to us without Himself being sinful like us.

2. God sent His Son "on account of sin" - or, "as an offering for sin" (NASB). Jesus came into this world as a sinless member of the human family, so that he could take the sins of humanity on Himself and be our sin offering.

3. God "condemned sin in the flesh". In doing this, God showed that our sin resulted in the death of His own precious Son on our behalf, and thus demonstrated how sinful and "worthy of condemnation" sin truly is. But God also "condemned sin in the flesh" by the fact that He united us to the death of Jesus - so that, when He died, we died with Him; and when He rose from death, we rose with Him to a brand new life (Rom. 7:1-6).


A. Think of this through the analogy of a pair of gloves. If we had a pair of gloves, and we set them on the keyboard of the piano, no beautiful music would be played. But, if someone who had the power to play the piano slipped those gloves on and began to play, then it could be said that the piano was being played through the gloves.

B. Similarly, we have no power to perform the righteous requirements of God's law in and of ourselves. Already, we've seen that our attempt to do so in the power of our flesh only leads to sin and death. But God has condemned sin in the flesh so that, now, the righteous requirements of the law can be fulfilled in us who walk by faith in the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ lives the perfect life of Christ through us - the life that is in complete fulfillment of the law of God (Gal. 2:20).

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