There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Many words of scripture are offered in a plethora of situations for comfort. Sometimes used properly, other times not. For the Christian — the one truly believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel of His death, burial, and resurrection according to the scriptures on his own behalf — these words bring great comfort and hope in the presence of the guilt and shame that so plague us as we still have the law of Adam working in our members.
It is important for all to note that this blessed declaration of no condemnation does not reach to all. It reaches to them that are in Christ Jesus. Those not in Christ Jesus are already condemned. The Apostle Paul declared God’s guilty verdict in Romans chapter 3.
The Apostle John declares this truth about those who partake in this “no condemnation”, and those that do not.
John 3:16–18 — “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.1“
Those not believing are under a sentence of condemnation. That there is now an amnesty declared (2 Corinthians 5:19) does not change the fact of that guilty verdict. God is longsuffering to the sons of men because he desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Oh that you, dear unsaved reader, would come to the Lord and take this wonderful free gift of God’s grace while it is offered:
“[B]ehold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Now, for those in Christ Jesus — notice the “therefore”. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. What is the therefore there for?
We look back at the text building to this moment, which, broadly is the seven chapters coming before.
Because, we are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24), and because we can be counted among the blessed to whom the Lord will not impute sin (Romans 4:8); because we are justified by faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1); Because we are justified by the blood of Christ, and have received the atonement, being reconciled by Christ’s death (Romans 5:9–11); because God has gifted us with eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23), and because we have the promise of deliverance from the body of death, the nature that still wars against the new law operating in our new man (Romans 7:24–25); because of all these wonderful truths preserved to us in God’s Word through the Apostle Paul:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus!
There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit”2. Does this put a condition to this condition of “no condemnation”? No, it is a description. Those in Adam only can walk in no other way than after the flesh. There is no internal war of natures within them, as there is with us who are in Christ Jesus, there is only one. We who are in Christ Jesus do have a choice of which way we will walk and which law will win the day, but we are in a place where we can make that choice. And, be sure as well that the man who we all are in Adam has already been condemned. He is crucified with Christ, and should not be allowed the authority to make decisions from the grave.
Yes, all of us at times, and some of us nearly all the time walk after the flesh. But if we are in Christ Jesus, we can rest assured that the condemned body of sin is on death row and does not at any time have the authority to rule us, although he will try. So walk after the Spirit, and not after the flesh. You are free from the law of sin and death, positionally. Live free from it in reality.
As we move on, notice to live after the law provides no answer to this, for the law is only a control of the flesh. In chapter 7, the apostle illustrates that weakness and ends with a call for salvation from this. The Lord Jesus Christ will deliver each of us from this body of sin and death. He condemned sin while He took on the likeness of sinful flesh and died for our sin. There is no condemnation left for us, because our sin has already been dealt with at the cross. The Gospel message, that Christ died for our sins, is a gospel for the believer already in Christ as well.
Christ died for our sins — there is therefore now no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus.
There is another side to this as well. Christ died for our sins — therefore reckon ourselves as dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This reckoning does not happen by our putting ourselves under law, for law only deals with the flesh. It was not made for the righteous, but for sinners (1 Timothy 1:9). The righteousness that the law reveals is natural in the walk after the Spirit, but it does not occur by binding ourselves to the law, but by living as we are, bound (not in the bonds of slavery, but in the bonds of union) to Christ.
Oh, the joy that we all have, and that we all can live in when we are in Christ Jesus. Blessed will be our lives when we live in truth of God’s Word to us.
Christ died for our sins and rose again — believe and be saved!
Christ died for our sins and rose again — believing, walk in Him and have hope and joy!
- There are more than a few who are Bible-believing, Mid-Acts, Pauline Dispensationalists, who will take issue with using these verses in John to talk of our salvation or gospel in the present dispensation. It is true that John writes regarding events taking place under a former dispensation, and in view of events that will take place in a coming dispensation. But I would ask, which of the words in the verses that I just quoted are not as true for us now as they are for those that John is writing? How much greater is our understanding of these truths being now illuminated by the revelation of the mystery than in our Lord’s day on earth before the preaching of the cross?
- The prevailing thought on this closing clause of verse 1 is that it “isn’t in the original” and doesn’t belong there. It is in my Greek New Testament, and in my English New Testament, and I will start with the belief that it is in the Bible (it is) and does belong there.
Charles Miller View All
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.
Good article. Good footnotes too.