no condemnation

During my contemplation time this morning, as Pastor Brian Zahnd would call it my time to “sit with Jesus”, I was thinking about beginning the home stretch of my look at the Sermon on the Mount. We’ve looked at Matthew Chapters 5 and 6, and hopefully you’ve followed along and seen that Jesus great discourse is not just a collection of saying randomly thrown together, but rather a single, unified talk (sermon) which has a definite starting point, message, and finish. This morning I was contemplating this little nugget – “”Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew‬ ‭7:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬. This may not be my favorite verse, or your favorite verse. But it just may be the favorite verse in the Bible of those who want to turn things back around on us when we seek to correct them on some point in their life or behavior. It’s used sometimes as a “Get out of jail free card” shielding us from having to listen to correction or think about our own behaviors, isn’t it?

accusation
As I’m contemplating this verse, I am led to the apostle Paul’s writing to the Romans, and our own “Get our if jail free” card. The protective shield we as believers like to pull out if the hat when someone may be correcting us. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1. To which every believer in Christ can give a rousing AMEN and HALLELUJAH!! This is used as our shield and our sword, “We are in Christ and you are not! You are condemned but we are not!!” We may not be able to judge you, but we know there is no condemnation for US. We are in Christ Jesus!

deep water
So let me head into deep water and drown myself. The verse says There is THEREFORE now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Therefore means that Paul has been building from another point to make this point. It doesn’t drop out of thin air. We Christian believers like to pull it out of thin air, but it doesn’t drop from thin air. Because of that therefore, we therefore had better look at what leads up to the point Paul is making. We had better look at the previous chapter, chapter 7.

sin
Let’s look specifically at the last verse of chapter 7, verse 7:25, and connect it with Romans 8:1. So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So, with my flesh I serve the law of sin, therefore there is no condemnation?? Because we sin we are not condemned? Let’s look at more of chapter 7 leading up to this.

torah
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So is it because it is not us but sin that does our sin that we are not condemned? I am not condemned because I agree with the law, even though I continue to break the law? Try telling that to the judge…

shame
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So are we not condemned simply because we want to do what is good? We are not condemned because we can not carry out what we want to do?? I am a sinner, I do the things I don’t want to do, therefore there is no condemnation?

condemnation
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ. It is only Jesus who saves, we can not save ourselves, Amen to that! But still, Paul says he serves God in his mind, but still sins in his body. Just as we strive to serve God in our minds, but still sin everyday. But because of our sin, there is no condemnation?? It doesn’t make any sense if you read it all together, does it?

gavel-judge
The problem with reading this all together, and seeing what it is that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, is that we might have to see that we misinterpret what Paul is saying, probably because it serves us to misinterpret it. When Paul says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, he is actually saying the exact same thing Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2. When Paul says that sin lives in him, that he does what he does not want to do, that with his flesh he still serves the law of sin, and therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, he is not saying that he is not condemned. He is saying that because, try as he might, he still lives in this life as a sinner, he does not condemn others. This is what it means when he says there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus – the we do not go around condemning other people for their sins!!  Because we are all sinners, because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  because no matter how much we live for God we still live in sin, and we  do not point the finger at others condemning them. Judge not, that you be not judged, and there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus are saying the exact same thing.

HolySpiritPeacemaker
Look at how Paul continues after his declaration of no condemnation. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. The law of the spirit of life is what? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22:37-40‬ ‭ESV‬‬. What is the law of sin and death? It is the “law” of shame, blame and accusation, the “law” of the devil, the false ruler of our fallen world.  As Christians we are called to love God and love our neighbors. We are free from the game shame, blame, accusation and vilification, the game if the the devil – “the accuser” himself. Because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  If we are not free from that game, if we are still pointing fingers, judging, shaming blaming others for what we see as their fault and failures, we are playing the devil’s game.  It doesn’t matter that we are blaming and shaming in the name of Christ, it’s still the devil’s game, and if we are playing his game, he is winning.  It doesn’t matter if we are right or wrong in our point, if we play his game, he is winning.  The devil doesn’t care that you are right.  The accuser doesn’t care that you use the name of Christ.  If you are playing his game, he wins.

holy spirit
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. How did Jesus condemn sin in the flesh? That’s easy – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭23:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus condemns sin in the flesh by praying forgiveness, not revenge, from the cross, revealing the way of revenge as the way of the devil.  Jesus Himself WAS condemned, but did he condemn in return? NO. He offered a prayer of love and forgiveness. He loved God and showed it by living his neighbor, who was, in fact, his own enemy who was crucifying him. Because there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

father-forgive-them
There is a wide gate and a narrow gate. “”Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬. To follow Jesus is to take the narrowest gate and and the hardest walk. Take up your cross and follow me, all the way through our own torment and crucifixion, offering forgiveness to those who crucify us, was never meant to be easy. Because there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

forgive

“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:7-25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus 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. 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.” Romans‬ ‭8:1-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

John Lewis

 

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6 thoughts on “No Condemnation

  1. I suppose you could be right. Certainly the “therefore” indicates that the statement is the conclusion of a preceding argument. But the substance of that argument doesn’t seem to be that Paul is bemoaning condemnation from others, but simply from his awareness of not being able to fulfill the requirements of the old covenant. I think the “therefore” refers to the beginning of V25: “[25] Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”. While he doesn’t give this thanks while exclaiming that Christ has freed his body from its tendency to sin, it does sound like it has relieved his mind from its guilt over it. Whatever the answer, his writing here is uncharacteristically erratic, making the discernment of his meaning a challenge.

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    1. Sorry, hit send by mistake. I was saying, we as Christians are not under condemnation, and I do think Paul was making the point that we should not be putting others under condemnation for their sins any more than we are condemned for our sin. It seems to be a logical progression in his argument. Of course, Paul used many different devices in his writing, logic just being one of them. So a logical progression here may not have been his point.

      But I do know that many points Paul makes were right in line with the teachings of Jesus once you strip away their differences in style and delivery.

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  2. This brings to mind the verse about removing the beam from your own eye before trying to remove the splinter from your neighbor’s eye. (Luke 6:42) A person with a beam in their eye has obstructed vision, so they cannot possibly see something as small as a splinter in someone else’s eye…therefore they are of no help in removing the splinter because their own beam is in the way! I really appreciate Luke 6:42 very much, as it is a very clear reminder of the dangers of trying to judge others in a condemning way. We should always judge them generously and lovingly. Nice post, you made an awesome connection there.

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  3. That’s a great point and directly related. I think you are completely right, Luke 6:42 is saying the same thing. Thanks for pointing that out, and thanks for taking the time to read and respond!

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