Friday, November 14, 2014
One of the scripture references Pastor Mike used this past Wednesday in his bible study happens to be one of my favorites. Even so, it is one verse that is often misinterpreted and misapplied by some bible teachers, thus causing confusion. Here it is: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) The first key word and the one that sets the foundation to this verse, is the word “therefore.” In any kind of writing, the Bible included, the word “therefore” is important, even crucial, and always points us back to a previous truth. For example, If I were to tell you something like “There have been many reports that rattlesnakes have been found in the vacant lot behind your property.” If you hear me immediately utter the word “therefore” in the following sentence, even before I were to finish the statement, you more or less already had an idea of what I was going to say. In the case of Romans 8:1, in particular the last half of the previous chapter, Paul wrote about a situation that distresses all believers from time to time, namely the struggle we have with sin because the old nature is still present within us. He concluded, however, that we have been freed by Christ from that struggle as well as from the penalty of sin, which is why he could positively assert in the beginning of the following chapter that all true Christians are free from condemnation.
Many will say that the verse’s complete meaning does not end in the first half and we cannot ignore the words “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” I agree that this last half is very important but the problem lies in thinking or assuming that it represents a necessary condition before the “no condemnation” promise can apply. In other words, with this assumption one cannot be free from condemnation if he or she is not walking after the Spirit. No, this was not intended to signify a requirement, but rather a description of the life of a genuine child of God who walks after the Spirit and not after the flesh. The only condition attached to salvation is faith, or believing, in Christ. We are saved when we truly believe, and when we do, we are free from condemnation. I believe we cannot distort the word of God by declaring and believing that “all true believers are free from condemnation, period.”
Knowing that truth should give us one less thing to worry about in this life, making it easier to serve God. On the other hand, it should not make us feel that all our obligations to live a God honoring life have been lifted from us. Sin always has it’s consequences. I suspect many people sincerely believe that this no longer applies today because of the millions who have not done it correctly, but a father has a right to correct his children when they do wrong. However, after the applied discipline, the children don’t lose their status; they continue to be sons and daughters. It is no different with our Heavenly Father. He may have to apply some necessary correction from time to time, but we’ll always be His children. If you would never condemn those you truly love, why would God?
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”