Commentary on "Freedom in Christ"
Day 2: Sunday, August 22, 2010 - Freedom From Condemnation
Based on the declaration made by Paul in Romans 8:1, the stated theme for today is freedom from condemnation by God for those who are “in Christ Jesus”.
Yesterday, we established that those who are “in Christ Jesus” are those who have accepted the gospel message. In Romans chapter seven Paul is addressing those Roman Christians who know the Mosaic Law, that is, the “written code” and then demonstrates why this law is no longer binding upon those who were once under it, the “written code”.
Keep in mind what is known so far in the earlier chapters of this epistle when we look at verses 7 through 12 of chapter seven. The “written code” reveals the perfect righteousness of God and the total inability of any sinner to obey even a small fraction of this law. The perfect atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross is something we could never have done.
In verses 17 through 24, Paul is primarily focused on the conflict of Christians brothers (Rom.7:1), both Jew and Gentile, who attempt to keep the requirements of the “written code” but utterly fail to do so. Certainly, non Christians can experience various conflicts within their lives. However, they are not the ones who Paul is addressing.
The born-again Spirit led Christian has a very different perspective from those who are not in the Kingdom of God. A Christian has both the old “flesh” and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which has brought his/her own spirit to life. The two natures are now at war with each other and there is a very real struggle.
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? (Rom. 7:19-24 ESV)
Paul, speaking from his own personal experience, voiced this critically important question: When you realize the failure of your own works or ability to meet God’s righteous standard, who do you turn to?
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. (Rom. 7:25 ESV)
Paul immediately reveals that Jesus Christ is the answer to the dilemma he just voiced. Jesus Christ provided the answer to our struggle with the flesh close to two thousand years ago, shortly before he ascended to heaven and has been seated at rest beside the Father ever since (Heb. 1:3). Our struggle is real but we are assured the war is won when Paul declares that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. For another perspective on this struggle, turn to Ephesians 6:10-20 where we are told we do have an enemy and are informed of the importance to put on the whole amour of God to defend against this foe. When you come to Eph. 6:15, notice that the gospel is called “the gospel of peace”. Only when we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit are we promised peace while in the middle of this spiritual warfare.
Now we come to Rom. 8:1 where Paul declares that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.
Paul then restates what was already declared in chapter seven:
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2 ESV).
There is one thing almost right but very wrong in this quote from today’s quarterly lesson:
For a person to be “in” Christ Jesus means that he or she has accepted Christ as his or her Savior. The person trusts Him implicitly and has decided to make Christ’s way of life his or her own way. The result is a close personal union with Christ (Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide; July, Aug, Sept, 2010, Page 102).
This is a non biblical concept. Our intentions are another form of works and are not part of the gospel message.
Our union with Christ becomes a reality for one reason only. It is when, by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we respond in faith to the gospel message of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we are saved. Any intent of ours prior to salvation is perverted by our sin nature. We don’t even know what it means to make Christ’s way of life our own without first receiving the indwelling and Seal of the Holy Spirit who will direct each of us personally into all truth.
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