There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.…
This is a glorious beginning to a glorious chapter. As in some great musical work, we can tell its character from the opening bars. The apostle, having been treating some of the darkest human problems, delights to emerge into the brightness of the new condition achieved for our fallen humanity by Christ Jesus.
I. HOW CLOSE IS THE UNION BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS PEOPLE! The preposition "in" denotes an altered state, men no longer reckoning themselves according to their genealogy from Adam, but as grafted into the stock of Christ. It is not hearing merely of the gospel, but being vitally united to its Author, deriving life from him, as the branches in the vine are nourished by its sap. Or, as the apostle puts it in ch. 7., we are "married to" Christ, made "members of his flesh, of his body and of his bones." The relationship is effected on God's side by his Spirit, on man's side by repentance and faith. No other religion claims such an intimate association to exist between its founder and its votaries. The union is mystical, but very real. Christ is our City of refuge from the avenger, our Ark of salvation, our Haven of peace. "Abide in me ' is his cheering counsel to all his disciples.
II. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO CONDEMN THOSE WHO ARE THUS UNITED TO HIS SON. This would mean severing himself from the Son of his love. He did conceal his presence from the crucified One, but only for a season. "God hid his face, but held him by the hand" The Saviour said, "Father, into thy hands," etc. The resurrection was the seal of God's approbation of the Messiah's career. And Christ's people, by their faith in the Redeemer, virtually place his Person and work between themselves and the condemnatory Law. Though metaphors are inadequate, we may assert that justice cannot demand a double payment. If Christ our Representative was accepted and glorified, we may triumphantly await the judgment. The very "weakness of the flesh" which made the Law unable to condemn sin was compelled, in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin, which tried to seduce him from holiness, and, failing, wounded him unto death. In the flesh was an offering made for sin, demonstrating the guilt of human nature, and yet redeeming it from the deserved penalty. As the "hue and cry," or the preparation of the scaffold for the execution of some sentenced wretch, does not alarm the innocent, so the threatenings of the law of sin and death do not concern or terrify those who have received the law of the Spirit of life. We are not saved by understanding accurately the rationale of the plan of Divine mercy; but to be able, like the apostle, to see the truth grounded on an adequate foundation, is to feel our feet on the granite rock which no wave of wrath's sea can shake.
III. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF LIFE SECURED BY UNION WITH CHRIST RENDERS CONDEMNATION IMPOSSIBLE, The apostle speaks strongly of the requirements of the moral law being "fulfilled" in Christians. They walk no longer "after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Thus the Law sees its end accomplished, its goal reached. The affections are placed on things above, the thoughts are cleansed, the will is submissive to the dictates of God. The most rigid code could not produce holiness. But to love Christ, to learn of him, to walk in him, is to cut up sin at the roots. Christ is not only a Pattern of obedience, but a Power to his associates, enabling them to become like him, "fulfilling all righteousness." The husk of the Law being stript off, the kernel is acknowledged to be "just and good." If the Law ventured to prefer a complaint against the infirmities and failings of Christians, all objection is banished by the assurance of the Master that his scholars shall grow in grace and knowledge till they are not only saints in name, but in character and deed. They shall be presented faultless before the throne of judgment. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.