There is No Condemnation – Romans 8:1

Having described the wretched condition of people who know what the law demands but cannot keep it (7:21-24), Paul now declares that those who are in Christ have been set free from the Law of sin and Death (8:1-4)

broken-chainsCondemnation refers to a “the punishment following sentence” (BDAG). This is a rare word, only used in the New Testament here and Romans 5:16 and 5:18. In Romans 5, condemnation was the result of the first Adam’s rebellion against God. In that case, God acts as judge, finds Adam guilty and gives him the appropriate (and promised) punishment for his rebellion, death. Those who were under the law were also under the condemnation of the Law.

In Wisdom literature, this word can have the sense of people getting what they deserve. For example, in Wisdom 4:16, “The righteous who have died will condemn (κατακρίνω) the ungodly who are living, and youth that is quickly perfected will condemn (κατακρίνω) the prolonged old age of the unrighteous” (NRSV). Someone who persecutes the righteous will “get their comeuppance” and be persecuted themselves in the final judgment.

But Paul’s use here does not have the idea of recompense “but rather the principle of correspondence of deed and condition” (EDNT 2:260). The result of Adam’s sin was death because that was the natural result of his rebellion. In fact, God promised Adam that he would die if he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The point of Romans 7 is all those under the law fell short of the righteous requirement of the law. Since this is the case, all humans stand condemned by the law and receive the wages of that all of the “in Adam” people receive, death.

But for those who are “in Christ” do not stand condemned since they are no longer “in Adam.” The natural condemnation of the law of sin and death no longer applies to them since they have been raised to new life with Jesus (Romans 6:11). It is important to see here that Paul is saying the “in Christ” person no longer is under the natural condemnation for falling short of the glory of God. They are no longer “walking by flesh” but rather “walking by the Spirit.”

The rest of Romans 8 is going to unpack what this means, but for now I want to focus on the contrast between the “wretched man” who stands condemned (7:24) and the “in Christ” person who is not under condemnation in the least. There is something liberating about this new state in which the Christian exists.

But if we have already been set free from the law of sin and death with oppressed us prior to Christ, why do we so quickly return to that old life which stands condemned?

4 thoughts on “There is No Condemnation – Romans 8:1

  1. Throughout reading this blog post, a recent story I heard about through the media comes to mind. The country artist Kane Brown recently lost his drummer in a automobile accident. I saw a video on the sadness that Kane is feeling, and I can only imagine what others might be going through also as they process this death. This makes me reflect on how Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In this fatal accident, I am not sure the details of how the drummer passed, besides the news saying he drove right into a tree. During a vulnerable time as this, others may feel criticized or blamed for the accident. Somehow blaming themselves makes them feel less sad by the loss.
    As Christians, amid loss and sadness, we can come around those that are hurting most and remind them that there is no condemnation. We can be renewed from our old selves and that are mindsets can be changed from it is all my fault to finding the positive side. As a follower of Christ, we are not to blame, for we are made of flesh and Spirit. Mankind is not perfect; we are far from it. Incidents and accidents take place, but if it was God’s will, we can not fix it or argue with it. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. I pray that Kane’s drummer had a relationship with the Lord. We never know when our last day will be and I also pray that we do not hold ourselves to the mindset that we are condemned. Scripture says there is no condemnation.

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  2. I would say that the answer is simply our sinful nature. As christian we know right from wrong, we know what the bible says and what God wants from us, and even though we know all this we still fail again and again. We slip back into our sinful ways, we make excuses for why what we are doing is acceptable, even though deep down we know the truth. We aren’t perfect, we can try our hardest, and no matter what, we are still going to fail. But its not the failure God is focused on, it your pursuit to correct those failures in his name, that he is concerned with. We have been set free from sin and shame yet we still let that sin and shame consume us, the difference is we know that it doesn’t have to. Before Christ sin and shame consumed us without a chance of hope, Christ gave us a hope and a freedom. Our sin still drags us down and pulls us under, time and time again, but we have Christ there pulling us out because we are no longer shackled to our sin, we are free.

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