Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 23
THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION
We have people from many denominations, and that’s the way it is in every class I teach, but our purpose and intent is to get people to study their own Bible. You may not always agree with me, and you don’t have to. You can certainly disagree with some of my approaches to Scripture, and still be a believer. But the reason I like to pass it on is that this Book has become so thrilling to my own heart after I realized some of the things that I hadn’t ever been taught: God’s dealing with the Nation of Israel, and then when He turned to the Gentiles we just have a whole different approach. Once you see that, this Book just gets so exciting, and is so easy to comprehend.
Now, let’s get back to where we left off in the last lesson, and we really never got past the word `Therefore’ in the last lesson in Romans 8 and verse 1. But remember, none of this can be just glossed over and taken lightly. The whole idea of Bible study is to read carefully. So many people just read it, and say, “Well, I’ve read my Bible today.” But read it carefully and see what it really says. In fact when I answer a question that comes in the mail I’ll answer it with a Scripture, but always tell the party to read it carefully, because if you’re just going to read it to be reading it, then you’re not going to get what I’m trying to tell you. And it’s the same way with this whole chapter of Romans 8, we’re going to take it slowly and carefully because this chapter is the gemstone of the Book of Romans, and the Book of Romans is the gemstone of The Bible.
“THERE is therefore now no condemnation…” Remember back in John’s Gospel, what did Jesus say?
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life;…”
Now, what is already resting on the unbeliever? Condemnation. See? Condemnation rests upon every son of Adam. We’re born sinners, and we never can forget that. We are born into the Adamic race `sinners.’ And that is what we have been looking at in these previous chapters of Romans. We are all sons of Adam, and under condemnation. But now we see the Scripture says that there is no condemnation. What a difference! Well, what made the difference? The Gospel! Some evangelists, pastors, Sunday school teachers, and so forth have put cliches in place of the Gospel. And I guess the one used the most is, “Taking Jesus into your heart.” How many times have we heard someone say, “Well, just come and take Jesus into your heart.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now, “That’s not the Gospel.” Alice, from our class gave me a little book the other day that said the same thing. When someone gives me a book, I read it and give it back; that’s my library. A lady told me one time, as she was leaving my class, that she would like to see my library. I told her I didn’t have a library, and she couldn’t believe it. I just have two or three books that I use a little bit, but other than that I don’t have a library. A gentlemen up here in Northern Oklahoma sent me a whole box of books the other day. Bless his heart, I hope he’s watching the program today because I haven’t had time to tell him how much I appreciate these books.
But anyway, all of mankind is under this condemnation, but now once we are in Christ there is no condemnation. That’s what The Book says, I didn’t dream it up. So reading on in verse 1:
“THERE is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (I’ll probably make some of you mad when I say the rest of this verse does not belong here in verse 1. Someone will scream, `Oh, you’re taking away from the Word of God. No I’m not, because I noticed a long time ago that it doesn’t really fit. Now some Bibles even have it in their margins that these words…), who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (…do not belong in verse 1, but they belong in verse 4, and they’re down there).
You say, “What are you talking about?” Well, just analyze it for a minute. I’m always almost just screaming at people that Salvation is faith + nothing. No human energy, no human merit, because it’s faith + nothing. Now, if you leave these words in verse 1 what does that make me? Well, it makes me a liar, because what does The Book say? And remember all of the early manuscripts don’t have it, and all the great Bible scholars will tell you the same thing. Why?
“THERE is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
What does that tell you? How did you get in Christ Jesus according to that? By not walking in the flesh, but rather the Spirit. That is not what has put us in the Body of Christ. Do you see that? And so just leave those words off verse 1, but when we get down to verse 4, it’s perfect. It’s exactly where they belong.
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who (because of verse 3, that God sending His own Son in likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, to take care of old Adam, condemned old Adam in the flesh. And now then this becomes appropriate) walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.”
Do you see the difference? This is what we have to learn to do. You just analyze the Scriptures in the light of what all of Scripture teaches and then you can see an error like this. How it crept in, I don’t think anybody really knows. But they all agree that it’s an error that should not be in verse 1. And of course, my premise is that it makes it sound like we got in Christ by virtue of our walking. And we did not. Let’s go on to verse 2.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Remember when we were back in Chapter 5 we were looking at this word `law.’ I said you have to always, according to the context, determine what `law’ are we talking about? Sometimes, the word `law’ will simply be used as a fact of everyday living. In other words, we speak of the law of gravity. It’s just a fact of our living everyday that what is up is going to fall down. No man can change the law of gravity. It’s absolute. We speak of the law of buoyancy. The law of buoyancy is that if you can put something in the water that weighs less than the amount of water it pushes aside, it’s going to float. It’s a law. It’s a fact of life. Now, this word used here is in the same context. “For the law,” the very fact of our everyday life is that, the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me (or set me) free from (another fact of life, another established, fundamental absolute which was that) the law of sin and death (was operating every day). The law of sin and death. It’s just a fact of life that mankind is under the curse. Mankind is under the power and the control of Satanic powers. Now, you need a verse for that? II Corinthians Chapter 4, verses 3 and 4. This is exactly what I just read out of Romans 8.
II Corinthians 4:3,4a
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not…..”
That’s the world outside of us. Going up and down their busy lifestyle. They are lost. See how plain that is? He hasn’t blinded the minds of those that have come and joined the church. He hasn’t blinded the minds of those who don’t read their Bible. He has blinded the minds of those that will not believe. It’s that simple.
II Corinthians 4:4
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Now, that’s what we’re up against when we try to enlighten people, and try to bring them to that same joy of Salvation that we enjoy; it’s just like water falling off a duck’s back. Why? Because they are blinded by the powers of Satan. They see absolutely nothing to be gained and so, consequently, they go on their way in total darkness. Now, come back Romans Chapter 8 and let’s read verse 2 again.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hat made me free from the law of sin and death.”
Now, what do you have here? Two facts of life. The one is that God is able to come in and do an operation in our life that totally gives us a new outlook on life. It gives us hope for that eternity to come. It’s a whole new ball game compared to the rest of the verse of being locked into sin and death. Remember the verse back in Romans Chapter 6 we looked at several weeks ago, verse 23? A verse I think that most people, if they have had any Sunday School and Bible experience at all, have memorized this verse.
“For the wages (and remember wages are what you earn) of sin is death (do you see how sin and death are connected?); but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Isn’t that a perfect comparison for what we see here in Romans 8? That the law of the Spirit in Christ Jesus, that fact of life that we can experience seven days a week, totally sets us apart from that other fact of life which is sin and death. It’s an everyday experience for the whole world that they’re living in the midst of sin and death. The two are so tied together, and remember where did it all begin? When Adam ate, and just as soon as he ate, what happened? He sinned, and the moment he sinned what came according to Romans 5? Death! So sin and death have been tied together ever since Adam took that first bite. And there is only one remedy for it, and that’s The Gospel. By believing The Gospel that Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead. You know at the first part of this lesson I was talking about cliches, and how so many people just say, “Well, just give your heart to Jesus,” or “Ask Jesus to come into your heart.” What are they circumventing? The Gospel!
When I was a kid (and I imagine most of you older people will nod your heads in agreement, and not that it was all wrong, but I think it was totally over done), Sunday after Sunday all we heard was hellfire and brimstone. And it scared the socks off people. I’ve had so many of those come into my classes, and they had been turned off by that approach. They told me if that’s all Christianity is then I don’t need it. But it is true, lost people are headed to a Devil’s hell (and don’t ever accuse me of not teaching that), but that is not the Gospel. Hell-fire and brimstone preaching is not the Gospel, and nether is telling folks to come forward and take Jesus into their life. Do you hear me? The Gospel is believing for your Salvation that Christ died for you, was buried for you and rose from the dead for you. (Ref: I Corinthians 15:1-4, and another good one is Romans 10:9,10.) Then when you believe the Gospel, Who are you taking into your life? Jesus Christ! Absolutely you do. He becomes your personal Savior, absolutely He does. But when you use those little cliches by themselves then it’s not the Gospel.
Now, it’s the same way back here in this verse again. Here we have the law of sin and death. That’s been with man ever since Adam ate. But now to counteract that, and supersede that, what do we have? The law of the Spirit of Life. I guess I should make this point right here since the word `Spirit’ is now used. Do you realize that in those first seven chapters of Romans the Holy Spirit was only mentioned one time, and then not in a really doctrinal sense. And after Paul explained that dilemma in Chapter 7, we come into Chapter 8 and the Holy Spirit is going to be mentioned nineteen times in just this one chapter. Nineteen times there is a direct reference to the work of the Holy Spirit. In those first seven chapters, Paul lays all the ground work of how we ended up in sin and under condemnation, and how that Christ died that we might be justified from all that, and how we might be forgiven. Then he comes through Chapter 7 with the dilemma of, “How can I overcome that old Adam, how can I keep it in defeat?” Well, what’s the answer? Romans Chapter 8: the Holy Spirit. And it’s the indwelling Spirit now that becomes our law if you want to put it that way. Now, let’s read on:
“For what the law (the Mosaic law) could not do (it was limited), in that it was weak through the flesh,…” Go to Hebrews 8:7.
“For if that first covenant (the law of Moses) had been faultless (now stop. When you see the words “if it would have been,” then what is implied? That it was faulty, it was not faultless like we like to think), then should no place have been sought for the second.” If it had been perfect then there was no need for anything more. But it wasn’t. Oh, it was perfect from God’s perspective, but not from mankind, because man couldn’t keep it. Now, verse 8:
“For finding fault with them, he saith, `Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.'”
So what the Scripture is showing us then is that the Mosaic Law from man’s perspective was faulty. And as I’ve emphasized ever since I started this series back in Genesis, the Law had no power to help mankind to keep it. Are you all aware of that? The Law had absolutely no power to keep a man from stealing, committing adultery, and what have you. All it could do was condemn him. That’s all. Now, come back to Romans Chapter 8 again. Living under the law of the Spirit, what’s the big difference? Well, the Spirit indwells us as we saw in the last lesson, and thus becomes our law. The Holy Spirit becomes our guideline for Christian living, not a set of rules and regulations, but His influence, His power. Do you see the difference?
And so all the Law did was just sit there in cold stone, there was nothing warm or cuddly about the Law, because it was severe, it condemned, and it did nothing to help that person keep it. But the indwelling Holy Spirit is warm, He is loving, and He does embrace us, He does cuddle us. And as He does so, He gives us that desire to live pleasing in God’s sight, He takes away that desire to be a rebel, to be obnoxious, wicked, and all that. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Now, verse 3 again:
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak…”
It had no power. Never accuse me of saying that the Ten Commandments weren’t perfect, absolutely they were. But they were powerless. A good illustration is that the Law was just like a mirror. You come in from an afternoon of working in your yard on a hot summer day, and you’re sweaty and grimy, and you look in the mirror, and all the mirror can do is show you what’s wrong, and what needs cleaning up, but the mirror is never going to reach out and clean you, it can’t, it’s helpless. And that was the Law. It was just the mirror that showed man his utter sinfulness, and helplessness, but the indwelling Holy Spirit is something totally different.
“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:”
I tell my classes night after night that this is something I still cannot comprehend except through the eyes of faith. He was the Creator of Genesis 1:1. He is the One Who spoke and the universe came into being. He’s the One Who spoke and Adam came up out of the dust of the ground. Yet Jesus Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for the sake of dealing with the old Adam. He condemned the old Adam and the flesh, and that was His whole purpose of coming – to get right down to man’s level in man’s frame of flesh that He might condemn sin in the flesh.