If you found Romans 7 difficult to understand because of Paul’s unique language regarding sin and salvation, be encouraged. Chapter 8 begins with sparkling clarity in words that soar:
“There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).
How do we know we are “in” Christ Jesus? We know because when we make a conscious choice to disregard the commandments in the Bible, give in to temptation through disobedience, and suddenly find ourselves in disunity from God, God loves us so much that he gives us warnings. At this point we come to a fork in the road: judgment by God or the never-ending love of God, which is the fruit of repentance. Choosing repentance results in erasing all former sin – forever – because we are “in” Christ Jesus, resulting in restoration, forgiveness, and perfect unity with God through Jesus.
It is our choice: Return to being “in” Christ Jesus through repentance, or guarantee judgment and condemnation, which is a dead end outside of the protection of Jesus.
“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ 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” (Rom 8:2-4).
Jesus is telling the Jews of Rome to choose the New Law of the Spirit instead of the Old Law of Sin and Death, that is, the Law of Moses in the Old Testament. Today, he continues to offer us the Law of the Spirit “in Christ Jesus.”
The phrase “and for sin” in verse 3 has been controversial over the centuries – did Jesus come to sin? Of course not! He came to lasso sin before it eats us alive.
“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” (Rom 8:5-8).
Yesterday, I was trying to wash some dark coffee stains out of my favorite cup. Lazy guy that I am, I rinsed without soap – stains win. Then with soap, stains still win. And even with an abrasive pad – stains win. My cup is indelibly stained forever because I didn’t live in the spirit of cleanliness!
In the same way, Paul is saying that we must choose the Spirit of the Law of sin and death or the Law of the Spirit. Unlike my coffee cup, the Law of the Spirit wins in my hopelessly stained heart! Thank God that Jesus came to give us the Law of the 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” (Rom 8:9-11).
Do not miss the perfect unity of Father, Son, and Spirit here! Their love is the most powerful force in creation.
If we are in Christ, we flounder from time to time, but this perfect unity abides in us always and brings us back to life “stainless” because of the righteousness of Jesus!