There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1
Romans 8:1 has been so misunderstood by many Christians. There are believers who think that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ… as long as they do what is right.
Now, I am for what is right. I am not for what is wrong. But that is not the criterion by which we are justified. We are justified by the obedience of Christ.
I know that some people will say, “But, the rest of Romans 8:1 goes on to say that the gift of no condemnation is only for those who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. That is the criterion to qualify for the gift of no condemnation!”
“…who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” is not there in the original manuscript. It was added by Bible interpreters. And you can verify this truth in any good Bible commentary. In fact, the New American Standard Bible is one version of the Bible that leaves this verse in its original form. Therefore, the only reason that you are not condemned is that you are in Christ Jesus. That is the only requirement.
So what does it mean: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”? The answer is found in the word “therefore”. Wherever you find the word “therefore”, find out what it is there for.
It is there because of what the apostle Paul wrote in the previous chapter. In Romans 7, Paul wrote about his own struggles and how he was condemned by the law that he knew so well as a Pharisee. He said, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” (Romans 7:19)
So Romans 8:1 only means something when you have done wrong, because that is when the gift of no condemnation matters to you. All of us qualify for this gift because we have failed to keep all the Ten Commandments perfectly. And God says, “In Christ, I don’t condemn you. Now, don’t condemn yourself. Go and sin no more.” God is for you not living a lifestyle of sin. But the power to do this comes when you receive the gift of no condemnation. Some people may say, “Some people might take this gift and start using it to live a licentious lifestyle!”
My friend, people who live a licentious lifestyle do not believe this truth. They have not truly received this gift. Many of them are already self-condemned and are doomed to repeat their sin.
Do you know that God does not say that there is no condemnation based on His whim and fancy? He does not say, “Never mind, boys will be boys,” and then sweeps everything under the carpet. If He did that, He would be unrighteous. No, He has to condemn our sins. That is why He sent Jesus to suffer the condemnation for us.
Today, you are not condemned because all the sins of your entire life have already been condemned in the body of another at the cross on Calvary. Jesus bore it all! And all lawyers know the law of double jeopardy: The same crime cannot be punished twice. Your sins cannot be condemned in the body of your substitute, and then in your own life!