With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. (The Message)
But you can certainly choose to live under that black cloud.
So let’s take a look at this verse and see why it is our choice. You may be more familiar with this verse in the New American Standard Bible:
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
A few years ago on a Sunday afternoon I received a call from a friend who was battling with some heavy words. Condemnation was one of them. She was also trying to wrap her mind around conviction and guilt. Why would a good God allow us to feel condemnation and guilt and conviction. That was a long conversation and one the Holy Spirit continued with her after we hung up the phone.
What is condemnation?
The word condemn means: . Guilty of sin, punishable by death. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. This death is physical, none of us escape it, but it is also spiritual – sin separates us from God.
And so condemnation is the state of being condemned. Condemnation is the state of being guilty of sin and separated forever from God.
Let’s look at how Paul wrote these words in the original Greek:
(there is) NO – ouden – no one, none – is a powerful negating conjunction. It rules out by definition, i.e. “shuts the door” objectively and leaves no exceptions.
therefore– ara – “it follows that” or “under these circumstances
now – nyn – at the present time, right now
condemnation – katakrima – punishment following condemnation
to those in – tois en – “tois” means “to those” that little word “en” means “within” or “the condition in which something operates from the inside” – position
Christ Jesus – Christos Iésous – Jesus the Christ – the Hebrew meaning of Jesus is “God saves” and Christ is another word for “the Messiah”
We will talk about verse 2 from Romans 8 in a few weeks which ties in the freedom given by the Holy Spirit, but in the transliteration of verse 1 there are a few more words we are not likely aware of regarding the Holy Spirit’s role in keeping us in Christ and out of condemnation:
not – mé – not or lest
according to – kata – against or down from or by way of
flesh – sarx – human nature
who walk – peripateó – I conduct my life, live
but – alla – except or however
according to – kata
Spirit – pneuma – wind, breath, spirit.
The door to punishment has been shut without exception for those who are found in Jesus – who conduct their lives by the power of the Spirit, not their human nature.
You no longer need to live under that low-lying black cloud!
The Message states this so well considering the reference to the Spirit in the original Greek. As we learned in our study from Isaiah 53, Jesus took our punishment when he took our place. We are condemned by our sin. But Jesus work on the cross took all the condemnation, the punishment, on himself to set us free. That low-lying black cloud is still there because sin still exists. We make mistakes, we miss the mark. BUT if we are in Christ, if we have accepted him as our Savior, we are protected because we don’t live according to our human nature but by the power of the Spirit at work within us. This protection not only guards us from the guilt and shame but it also convicts us. That is where my friend was confused. Condemnation and conviction are different. Condemnation is what we experience outside of Christ when we sin. Conviction is a gift from the Holy Spirit when we sin – The Holy Spirit convicts us, or reminds us we are guilty of sin, to protect us – remind us that Christ took our punishment for that guilt – and get us out from under that black cloud (we will talk about confession on the blog in December and in our Winter issue) and back into the light of Christ, free from guilt and unashamed. Condemnation keeps our eyes on our guilt dilemma. Conviction keeps our eyes on the Groom!