There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The perpetual conscience-cry that rings through all the struggles of ch. 7. is, "Condemnation!" But "to them that are in Christ Jesus"? "No condemnation now!" The heavens smile, the earth is glad. All things are made new. Such is the opening note of this eighth chapter; a sweet song of joy in place of the old cry of despair. And we have here following - God's work in Christ; Christ's work in us.
I. GOD'S WORK IN CHRIST. The great work referred to here is the practical condemnation of sin. And it is set forth, in regard to Christ and in regard to ourselves, negatively and positively.
1. Negatively, by contrast with the impotence of mere Law: "What the Law could not do." The Law of God, whether inwardly in conscience, or outwardly as through Moses, sufficiently condemns sin theoretically; but practically? - "weak through the flesh." All this has been emphatically demonstrated in the previous chapter: "I delight in the Law of God after the inward man; but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind," etc. (vers. 22, 23). The flesh dominates, and there is no power to render effectual the better aspirations.
2. Positively, in the holy, loving life of Christ: "God, sending his own Son," etc. He came into the realms of sin, and wearing the nature which sin had weakened and destroyed, but resolutely resisting sin's power, defying sin's assaults. "The flesh in him was like a door constantly open to the temptations both of pleasure and pain; and yet he constantly refused sin any entrance into his will and action. By this persevering and absolute exclusion he declared it evil and unworthy of existing in humanity "(Godet). Yes; God in Christ "condemned sin in the flesh," by practically casting it out from that humanity. Casting it out? nay, it was not suffered to intrude. The history of the temptation, and of the last agony, is the emphatic illustration of these words.
II. CHRIST'S WORK IN US. In Christ, then, there is a practical and immediate con- demnation of sin, by its utter exclusion from his life. But is there not in this a pledge of the like condemnation in those who are joined to him by faith? And is not this pledge fulfilled to those who are in Christ Jesus "When we see the king's son enter the revolted province without opposition, and know that he has come because or the revolt, we are sure that the king is both able and determined to overthrow the rule of the usurper" (Beet). And in us who believe, and who therefore "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," the usurper is dethroned, and "the ordinance of the Law" is "fulfilled."
1. Negatively, or "after the flesh." to "mind the things of the flesh." As above, our state by nature is one of bondage to "the flesh;" the lower impulses master us. And though the aspirations of the spirit may be quickened, yet we sigh vainly for freedom and strength. We do but realize the more bitterly our bondage to sin. How shall the bondage be destroyed? "Through Jesus Christ our Lord." He has broken the condemnation of the past by the offering of himself, once for all; he destroys our present captivity by the incoming of his Spirit, received by faith in that same sacrificial love. Thus the aspirations are realized by this blessed inspiration.
2. Positively. "After the Spirit," to "mind the things of the Spirit:" Christ, who conquered for us, conquers in us. we are joined to him, and "he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17). Thus "we are transformed into the same image," and "walk even as he walked." Now, then, we more than realize our first estate; our manhood is redeemed; "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" makes us "free." Our service is the glad, spontaneous service of sonship; we are not commanded to an impossible obedience from without, but animated by the impulse of a boundless love within; and this love, with the free obedience which it begets, is nourished and strengthened evermore by our fellowship with God in Christ. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honourable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report" we "think on these things;" and "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, guards our hearts and our thoughts in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7, 8). The one supreme question for us is - Are we in Christ? If so, the determining element of our life is new, all things are new. But if not, we abide in death I And how shall Christ be received? By simplest faith. He offers himself freely, we are to receive him freely. Believe! yes, believe with the heart in all his boundless love, and live by it. - T.F.L.
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.