Saturday, March 25, 2017

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit (Romans 8:1).

The RV leaves out all that is after the comma, following Westcott and Hort. But Stephens' Text gives it as quoted above, and this the AV or KJV follows. There has been great controversy about this verse. Perfectionists just cannot see that there might be condemnation for a believer, regardless of how unjust he may be.

Terms and their definitions are greatly at fault. Christendom has taken on a 'lingo' these days from traditions and philosophies of men that pretty effectively obscures the truth of the Word of God and makes it ineffective.

For instance, these folks will quote Deuteronomy 25:1 to prove that justifying the righteous is the opposite to condemning the wicked. And they are right! But the question we have to face sooner or later is, Who are the righteous and the wicked mentioned? What is the context?

The verse in question reads, If there he a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. Of course the judging must be according to the law given at Sinai. And this law was given to a people who had been redeemed that night in Egypt by virtue of the blood being sprinkled. And that same people were also redeemed from Egypt by the strong arm of Jehovah. And these same people had been given the atonement at Sinai which was to make a redeemed people fit to enter the presence of Jehovah. So then the righteous and wicked mentioned in the verse above were a redeemed people, and that by the blood of the lamb.

But among these are both righteous and wicked men. Note the slothful and wicked servant of Matthew 25:26, yet a servant of his master. Was he not unjust? And so we find the just and the unjust before the judges in Deuteronomy 25:1. But they are redeemed men. There is no word to indicate that the wicked man is an unbeliever. That is not the question. It is solely a matter of works.

This leads us up now to our text again. In the chapter before (Romans 7) Paul speaks of his own experience with the 2 natures in the child of God. His new nature is just, and the old is unjust. He can walk after either one. To walk after the old nature only brings condemnation. He would become a castaway, a thing which he feared. See 1 Corinthians 9:27. If there is no condemnation of any kind to them which are in Christ Jesus, then why did Paul take such pains to walk uprightly and not unjustly? Is it possible that a workman could not be ashamed? See 2 Timothy 2:15.

In the light of Romans 7 & 8 one of the most dangerous doctrines is that of sinless perfection, no condemnation to the believer regardless of his actions. And this is one of the great dangers of right division. Beware (Colossians 2:8).

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit (Romans 8:1).

The condemnation that comes upon the believer because of faulty walk and wicked works is not the same condemnation that is spoken in context of life and death. Take John 5:24 for example:

He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

This is a comfort to the believer, that he has a life that can never die. John 3:16 gives us the facts of life. But that is just the start, just the beginning. There is a purpose. That purpose is being worked out by means of two dispensations or families of God, and each considered a firstborn. One is the firstborn of the nations of the earth. The other is a group that is a firstborn among principalities, powers, mights, and dominions in heavenly places.

There can be no condemnation of the believer to death, but there can be condemnation if he does not walk after the new nature.  When Nathan said to David, Thou art the man (2 Samuel 12:7), there was condemnation. The sword was not to depart from the house of David till he died.

And in the early days of the apostles and the ministry in Jerusalem, a man and his wife, new converts, walked in the way of the flesh and they died suddenly. There was condemnation!

Now again to our text, Romans 8:1. Notice the little word NOW. This word is entirely disregarded. And the verse is made to mean that there is some future judgment concerning life and death, and that those in Christ cannot come into condemnation then. That could not be true for the simple reason that one either has life here and now or he does not. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:12). It is as simple as that.  For the rest of mankind all future judgment after death has to do with their works.  He that believers on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

In our chapter, Romans 8:9, we are told that if any man have not the spirit of Christ, the new nature which is created in the believer, such an one is none of His. This is condemnation unto death. But Romans 8:1 has to do with walk, not life.

We would now like to make some more application to the dispensation of the mystery. We have already hinted that this principle carries over into the church as well as the kingdom.

Again we must be reminded that this is not a judgment concerning life and death, but it is about the walk of those who are in Christ Jesus.

At one time we all had a walk which was not according to the spirit, and were by nature the children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 3:7).

Members are to walk in good works which God hath before ordained that they should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). This is after the spirit.

Members are to walk worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1), and to walk worthy of Christ (Colossians 1:10). Again this is walking after the spirit.

We are not to walk as other Gentiles walk, i.e. those alienated from the life that is in God. See Ephesians 4:17.

Then there is a threefold walk for the believer in Ephesians 5:2,8,15. He is to walk in love, the relationship of husbands and wives. He is to walk as a child of light, the Sheckinah glory that shines from the holy of holies. This is in relationship to children and parents. And one is to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. This is the relationship of masters and servants. So this threefold walk takes in all human contacts with others. And this walk is summed up in Romans 8:1 as walking after the spirit, the new nature in the believer.

In Philippians 3:16 Paul could say that he walked according to the spirit and exhorted others to do the same, that all have the same mind. In the next verse he tells them to walk according to his example. But in verse 18 he speaks of those who walk not after the spirit, but after the flesh, who mind earthly things and whose god is their belly. Their end is the destruction of their works. See parallel in 1 Corinthians 3:15.

It is plain that in the dispensation of the mystery, one may be unjust, walk after the flesh, and be a workman that will be ashamed when his work is assessed. There are two classes of those who are in Christ Jesus; the just and the unjust; the faithful and the wicked and slothful.

Another Scripture to ponder is Colossians 2:6, As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him. This is not walking after the flesh. It is a warning that one could walk in the flesh, even though having received Christ Jesus the Lord. And why not? Because there is condemnation. There is sorrow and loss for such in this life, as with David.

So let us retain the last half of Romans 8:1 and heed the warning lest we suffer loss.

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1 Kings 8:27
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
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