|artwork by Lena Zieber|
Romans Chapter Eight is uniquely the chapter of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is mentioned in Romans 8 no less than 19 different times. No other chapter in the New Testament contains as many direct references to the Holy Spirit. Romans 8 is also the chapter of Christian assurance. As theologian Frédéric Louis Godet said, Romans 8 begins with "no condemnation" and ends with "no separation”…which draws me to a word study of the word, condemnation…
Amplified Bible: Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice].
NLT: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
Phillips: No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death. The Law never succeeded in producing righteousness—the failure was always the weakness of human nature. But God has met this by sending his own Son Jesus Christ to live in that human nature which causes the trouble. And, while Christ was actually taking upon himself the sins of men, God condemned that sinful nature. So that we are able to meet the Law’s requirements, so long as we are living no longer by the dictates of our sinful nature, but in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit.
Wuest: Therefore, now, there is not even one bit of condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit, that of the life in Christ Jesus, freed you once for all from the law of the sinful nature and of death. For that which is an impossibility for the law, because it was weak through the sinful nature, God having sent His Son in likeness of flesh of sin, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the sinful nature, in order that the righteous requirement of the law may be brought to completion in us who, not as dominated by the sinful nature are ordering our behavior but as dominated by the Spirit.
Young’s Literal: There is, then, now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; for the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus did set me free from the law of the sin and of the death; for what the law was not able to do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, His own Son having sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, did condemn the sin in the flesh.
Condemnation from the Greek word katakrima. It comes from katá which means against or down, and krino, which means to separate from which the idea of discriminate, distinguish, and then to judge or pronounce sentence against. This word appears only in the book of Romans. The idea literally is of judgment coming down on someone. The Apostle Paul says God’s judgment is not going to come down upon us as believers, not now, not ever! Those in Christ are not condemned, because Christ was condemned in our stead. There is no punishment for us, because Christ bore our punishment. The word condemnation may also be translated judgment. There is no judgment for those who are in Christ because sin has already been judged in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus.
Katakrima means to judge someone as definitely guilty and thus subject to punishment, which accounts for the literal translation of "adverse judgment and resultant punishment." It is a legal technical term for the result of judging, including both the sentence and the execution or the sentence followed by a suggested punishment (The suffix -ma makes it the result of judgment). Katakrima is always an adverse verdict. Stated another way, katakrima (condemnation) relates to the sentencing for a crime, but its primary focus is not so much on the verdict as on the penalty that the verdict demands.
Pastor F. B. Meyer explains katakrima this way, “Our standing in Christ is present: "Now." If we are in Christ, we need not wait in doubts and fears for the verdict of the Great White Throne. Its decisions cannot make our standing more clear, or our acceptance more sure. We can never be more free from the condemnation of God's righteous law than we are at this present. There are some who live on a sliding scale between condemnation and acceptance. If health is buoyant and the heart is full of song, they are sure of their acceptance with God; but if the sun is darkened and the clouds return; when the heart is dull and sad, they imagine that they are under the ban of God's displeasure. They forget that our standing in Christ Jesus is one thing; our appreciation and enjoyment of it quite another. Your own heart may condemn you; memory, the recorder of the soul, may summon from the past evidence against you; the great Accuser of souls may lay against you grievous and well-founded charges; your tides of feeling may ebb far down the beach; your faith may become weak and lose its power and grip; your sense of unworthiness may become increasingly oppressive--none of these things can touch your acceptance with God if you are in Christ Jesus.”
During a recent hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, a news report highlighted a rescue device used on the oil rigs. In case of fire or hurricane, rig workers scramble into the bullet-shaped “bus” and strap themselves into their seats. When the entry port is shut, the vehicle is released down a chute and projected away from the rig. The seat belts protect the occupants from the impact with the water. The capsule then bobs in the sea until rescuers come to pick it up. The device parallels the theological truth of Romans 8:l—”Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Justification does not mean our world always stops falling apart. The rig still may topple in the hurricane. The storm will take its course. The welfare of the workers depends on whether they are in the rescue device….those in the right place, whether a rescue module, or spiritually, believers in Christ, will weather the storm and be carried safely to the shore. Praise His Holy Name!