10 April 2013 by Rev Dr Steven Kau-
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
Paul’s marvelous proclamation is most often terribly misunderstood. I have been guilty of misunderstanding it myself for a while. Romans chapter 8 is not grounded in justification but sanctification.
Here’s the bottom line in this admittedly complicated statement – one proves he is no longer under condemnation for his sin when he walks in a manner worthy of his calling. (Ephesians 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:12; Col. 1:21-23) In other words, if you obey God, then your assurance of salvation is made stronger. Your indwelling sin is strong, as is the temptation of the world, the flesh and the devil, that you cannot walk in holiness without the indwelling Holy Spirit. You need to be filled with the Spirit daily. If you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, then according to Romans 8:2-11, your life will change. It is inevitable. You will grow in likeness to Christ. Without this growth in holiness, no one should have assurance that he has escaped condemnation. You have every reason to believe that if you walk in gospel holiness, that there is no condemnation for you. You have every reason to believe that you are in Christ. If, however, you do not walk in obedience, if you continue to presume upon God’s grace, then you may be making a terrible presumption.
What does this mean practically? We ought to put away, once and for all, the terrible presumption of claiming Christ as our Savior while still living in abject disobedience to His commands. A true believer has the Holy Spirit indwelling him. He has newness of life. He is no longer under the dominion of the devil or flesh. He ought to be making progress in gospel holiness. If he is not, if he is content to languish in disobedience, then he may be making a terrible presumption. He may be applying no condemnation to his frivolous, carnal, and flippant behavior, while failing to realize that if anyone is in Christ, then he is a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17) That is why we cannot say someone is a Christian fornicator, a Christian homosexual, a Christian thief, a Christian drug dealer, a Christian adulterer or a Christian liar. There is no such thing. These terms are mutually exclusive.
It is like this – we all need a balanced diet of lean animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and non-fat dairy products. Too much, too little or anything unhealthy can prove harmful. We also need a balanced diet in the Christian life.
We need the proper balance between the indicatives and the imperatives of Scripture. These terms are taken from Greek grammar and they refer to the indicative and imperative mood. The indicatives are the glorious proclamation of all God has done for us in Christ Jesus. (Romans 1 -11 and Ephesians 1-3)
And we certainly ought to and glory in our union with Christ, His electing love and His propitiating and expiating death, to name a few wonderful indicatives. But coming from the indicatives are the imperatives – commands we must obey, directives we must follow, duties we must accomplish. The good can be the enemy of the best. It is good to bask in the glory of all we have in Christ but it's bad if this does not translate into spirituality or piety.
A man who glorifies in Christ’s atoning death, yet who also beats his wife is not giving evidence of no condemnation. A true believer has the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus in his soul. He will get better. He will make progress. He will change. He will be a different person. I am calling you to a balanced Christian life – love the indicatives but obey the imperatives. Living only the indicatives can lead to sluggishness, lethargy, like eating too many carbohydrates and falling asleep at your desk after lunch. Living on the imperatives can lead to harshness and pride, gaining a false sense of spirituality because you are dutiful, like eating to many proteins and having live problems.
You most certainly can rejoice in no condemnation as long as you are walking in the Spirit. A continued failure to obey God’s law will rob you of joy, peace and power and may very well give evidence that you really had no true spiritual life in the first place. In that case your condemnation remains.
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