[Aug 15]—None

Romans 8:1

            Well, I’ve finally reached it. This is, without a doubt, my favorite chapter of the entire Bible. It is so packed with meaning. I feel like a first-year art student who’s forced to do 20-page paper on the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper. There’s so much I want to say about this chapter, but so little that I could say that you haven’t heard before, or at least that’s how I feel. Inadequacy doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about this. Oh well, if God could speak through a donkey, then I guess I can do this. Never has this passage applied so much to me personally: “Our competence comes from God.” If I have any competence at all in expounding this chapter, it’s going to have to come from him.
            Paul just got finished relating how he struggles with sin in his personal life, but he ended on a note of triumph, victory, and (sure) hope. First he groaned a moan of frustration sounding like it’s bordering on despair, like a man handcuffed for years to a corpse: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” But then he answers his own question in the most glorious fashion. Who will rescue him from lifelong struggle, with all its too-many losses and too-few wins? It’s not a rhetorical question. There’s a literal answer: Almighty God working through Jesus Christ our Lord. If there was such a thing as exclamation mark in the Greek, I’ve no doubt Paul would’ve put it there.
            In chapter 7, Paul talks as if the “law” of sin (referring to its power via our sinful nature) and the “law” of our better nature are just locked in a lifelong struggle, and it’s almost a tossup as to which one will win on a given day. But there’s an ingredient that Paul doesn’t mention much before now which we need to focus on. What I’m talking about is the effect of the Holy Spirit who lives inside every believer. Paul has mentioned the Spirit exactly once so far in this book, and then in chapter eight with 39 verses he mentions him almost 20 times. Yes, he moves within us to desire to please and love our Father, but he also empowers us as well: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
            But before he gets to the Spirit’s work in us, he needs to make a ringing announcement, the most glorious proclamation made to both lost sinners and Christians who fall: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” None. If you've truly placed your faith and trust in Christ and have turned your life over to him, he'll never condemn you. He might discipline you, as harshly as you need it, and anyone who’s experienced his rod of correction can tell you that it can be pretty rough living under his frown. But in his court of law, where angels don't even dare to look at his face, he's pronounced us not only “not guilty”; in his court, we're declared to be perfectly righteous. He's clothed us with the righteousness of Christ. And in his court, there is no double jeopardy.
            I just want to camp out on that for a moment. Nobody else in this world has this. Buddhists and Hindus don’t have it—Karma has no grace. Muslims certainly don’t have it—Despite the proclamations in the Koran that Allah is merciful and forgiving, he certainly doesn’t demonstrate it. Muslims go through their entire lives never knowing whether they’ve done enough. One slipup and whatever merit they’ve gained before him is lost. Not even the people under the Old Covenant had this. They had to hope and pray that the priest inside the Tabernacle or Temple knew what he was doing, and obey the Law as best they could and hope that was enough: “[If] we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
            When you boil it all down, all the other religions out there are some variation of the "scale" system: Your good deeds go on one side, your bad deeds go on the other side, and if your good deeds outweigh the bad, you're in. If you're looking for grace--not just winking at your "mistakes," but real and permanent forgiveness for real sin both now and forever, there's only one game in town. It's found at the foot of the cross, both for the lost sinner and for the believer who's failed again
            Now, I’m sure that Muslims and Hindus and Orthodox Jews would protest that this proclamation by Paul is a license to sin. As we’ve seen and are going to see, nothing could be further from the truth. Even this chapter--dripping over the edges with grace and mercy and love and God’s promise to never let anything separate us—has plenty to say in response to the charge of antinomianism. But for now, before we get into some pretty deep theology and deal with the Spirit’s work in our lives, let’s turn this over and over in our minds for a while: Take that verse and put yourself in it: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for me, because I am in Christ Jesus.”

And here for your enjoyment is "No Condemnation" by Lisa Bevill:

Lord Jesus, I know that this can be a dangerous teaching. But it comes straight from you, so it’s good. And it’s no more dangerous than I let the Enemy make it. Because of who you are and what you’ve done, there is therefore now no condemnation, because I am in you. Thank you seems so inadequate. 

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