I grew up in church, since I was 8, and I've heard over the years that Christ will not condemn Christians, Romans 8:1. Is it actually true? Are Christians free from the condemnation of Christ? I did not say believers will go to hell: suffering God's Wrath is different than God's Judgment (condemnation). Nonetheless, do any Bible believing, God honoring Saints want the condemnation of our Lord? I think not!
This misnomer comes from something we all do as Christians on a regular basis. We quote or recall only a part of a verse and not the whole. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a perfect example. We want God to heal our land and we use this verse as a point of reference that God will do so. We usually quote it this way: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” It sounds right and oh what a might thing, if God would step in and heal our land; what a great rejoicing it would in fact be! Sadly, in our excitement, we forget part of the verse. Here is the whole passage: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Did you catch it? We often forget the most important phase in the verse: “and turn from their [God's people] wicked ways”
Yes God will heal our land IF we humble ourselves, pray, seek Him and turn from our wicked ways. Wow! This is the missing part to a national revival! Turn from our wicked ways! You may ask, what wickedness? God sees our hearts. We can lie to ourselves, but not Him. Something as simple as a lie, is a wicked thing to God. Don't you know God hates a lie. Proverbs 6: 16-19 “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Did you notice, lying is motioned not once, but twice! These sins are an abomination to our Lord. Which of us has not been full of pride? lied? Lest we think too highly of ourselves because we have not murdered, think again: what does the Scripture say about murder? 1 John 3:15 “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” So which of us has not murdered according to God's standards? Who has not devised a plan against someone? Who has not gossiped (run swiftly to mischief or sown discord)? I am not speaking of acts done prior to becoming a Christian. I am speaking since having become one. Have we turned from these things? No, the church is full of these things! This is way the world, rightly so, calls us hypocrites! This behavior will not bring them into the faith, rather they will run from it! They get this everyday outside of Christianity. The world is looking at us and expects to see what we claim to be, not what they already are. Why should they change their life by accepting God, if they will only live as they already are? It would be foolish to do so.
You may say, it's impossible not to do such things. I ask you, is it? If Christ lives is us through the Holy Spirit and nothing is impossible for God who is alive in us because it is not us, but God that works in us to make us like Him more each day.. Surely, He can do what is right in and through us; this is what He commands us to do. God does not require of us, that which we cannot do, right? To do such, would be unjust and we know God is just! There may be times we fail to yield to God and revert back to our old self; in such times God has not left us without an answer: Have we corrected whatever it is we have done wrong? Is it not our pride that keeps us from such? We cannot force the person we wronged to forgive us, that is between them and God. We can, however, go to them without bringing up any error they may have had or without making excuses for our own behavior and pled with them for forgiveness, right? In doing such we are turning from our wicked ways!
I was one with a severe temper. God convicted me greatly in this. I purposed (determined) to obey God and do whatever needed to be done to rid myself of this sin. Sure enough God gave me ample opportunities. I recall going to my mother at least 60 times in one day to ask forgiveness. 60 times! As the days and weeks went on, my requests for forgiveness shrank in number. I also noticed an unexpected benefit: I became aware of my temper in a way I never had before. Prior to this time, I got angry responding without hesitation; after this experience, it was as if time slowed down and I now have a moment to decide if I wish to respond in anger or gently. What a freedom to have such control over my anger. The same is true of any of our sins. When God is in control, we have purposed to do right (yielding to His will, not ours), we can and will turn from our wickedness!
The true question is, are we determined to turn away from our wickedness or do we merely want to turn away. The question may seem confusing or as if I'm splitting hairs, yet it is not so. My brother wanted a car when he was 16, yet he was not determined enough to work for it and my parents told us both, if we were to own our own car, we must pay for it ourselves. Non-Christians do not have God within them, yet they have stopped smoking because they were determined to do so, yet I know many Christians who say they can't stop even after trying. The same is true of alcohol, sex outside of marriage or any other sin. My brother stopped having sex immediately after becoming a Christian, among other things, and remained faithful, waiting until he married to enjoy sex once again. The question for the believer who has God within, is how bad do we really desire to change our ways? If we have not purposed in our heart to change, change will not come. I know this personally. I struggled with a particular sin for years and in all honesty, if I was honest, truly honest with myself, it was because I did not determine to stop. Deep within I wanted to continue. God is available to us, it is us, that is not always available to Him. You know this is true as much as I do.
Now, if we clearly miss quote this verse or others you know you miss quote, then surely we can miss quote Romans 8:1. This is how it is often quoted: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus...” this is the actual verse: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Notice the whole second phrase is not usually quoted: “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” It was a dear Sunday School leader that reminded me of this while in his class one day. He used the whole verse in his lesson. I too had heard and misquoted this verse for years and thought it accurate. I had heard it said so many times wrong, that I too quoted it wrong! We, as believers, never stop learning! If one foolishly thinks they have come to a point where they cannot learn form another Saint, they are in the worst of places they can ever be!
As Christians, we can work one of two ways: after the flesh or after the Spirit. Which do you walk? Do you know the difference? Many in the faith know what it means to walk after the flesh: self desires, the old self, pre faith, or our own way once we are saved by grace. To walk in the Spirit, in short, it is to walk with God, here and now! See “How to Walk in the Spirit” for greater detail.
It is apparent by Romans 8:1 above, Christ will condemn, have a verdict against, Christians if they walk in the flesh. Christians are not free from the judgement of God merely because we are His children. This verse is not alone: 1 Peter 4:17 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” God is clear, Christians walking in the flesh will be judged (avenged, condemned), of course, those that rejected Him, will suffer more. Although this is a comfort to some, it is not to me, that one will suffer more than another. I'd rather not suffer under God's judgement at all! There is also, the verse: 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul tells us that he is in danger of being castaway (found worthless), if after he preaches, he fails to live up to what he has proclaimed to be. If Paul was in danger, surely you or I can be! Do we not proclaim Christ to the lost? All Christians have shared our faith with someone, thus we have “preached” the faith and by Paul's words, not mine, we are in danger of being castaway, if we do not live as we preach. This is not to say salvation is by works; nor is it once given and then taken away, God forbid! None would be saved if this was the case. The book of James says we as Christians shall be known by our works because it is our faith that produces them! Because we have faith, we do the works; we do not do the works to have the faith. Romans 6:23 tell use that eternal life is a free gift. These are elementary doctrines I mention only to avoid any possible confusion. Another verse: Jas 3:1 "My brethren, be not many masters [teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. "Do we desire the judgement of God in our lives? I don't! He will not let sin go unpunished, especially in His children! God warns us throughout Scripture, DO NOT take sin lightly!
If any thing, as Christians, we are held to a higher standard because we are His children. Any parent will hold their own children more accountable than the children of others. Is not a popular request of a child, “but all the other kids are doing it.” What is often the parent's response? You're my child not theirs or I'm not their parent or such. We've all heard it growing up and we go away upset because our parents are “unfair” or “old fashion” or such. When the whole time, it is our parents that care the most and they want to protect us from what they know is a danger, whether it is something they themselves suffered at a young age or they saw others suffer. It requires the child's trust in the judgement of their parents to make it through those rough seemingly unfair times. Then sure enough, when the children are grown, they say either, I'm glad I listen to my parents, or, sadly more common, I wish I had listen to my parents!
Likewise, God is our Father. He knows all and knows what is best for each of us. He merely wants us to have faith, trust and obey. We show our faith by trusting His Word; we show our trust by obeying His Word; are obedience shows our love. 1 Peter 1:22 “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” Soak that verse in: our souls are purified by our obedience to the truth by the power of God (the Holy Spirit) within, which produces genuine sincere love, which by the way, is how the world knows we are of God and comes to God. Look at 1 John 5:1-2 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” They world is not drawn to God by our church programs, events and get togethers. Sadly, these things keep us so busy we don't have time to love those around us.
Did you notice the last phrase of 1 John 5:1-2? It too is often left out when quoting the verse: “...and keep his commandments.” A teaching that is lacking in the church today is the very warning throughout Scripture. We will be judged by God as Saints, if we fail to live up to our claim that we are saved by Christ. Too often a parent or the church is concerned that one is saved, rightly so, yet they neglect the training up of the one converted to Christ. We drop the ball after salvation and neglect to teach that Christ is not merely our Savior, He is our Lord!
Americans have a disadvantage here. We are not used to a king and while we understand it in our minds, we fail to grasp it in our day to day living. It is the fundamental foundation of the Christian faith. Christ is the Corner Stone, our Savior, yet He too, is the whole foundation! If we fail to understand the Lordship of Christ, we fail to understand the whole of Christianity.
A saved life is a changed life under the Lordship of Christ. Are there areas in your life you are not willing to change? Maybe you are willing, but you are trying in your own strength, which leads to defeat. Live as the verse in Romans 8:1 says, “...walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” for in doing so we escape the judgement of God. Believe one who has suffered under such, it is not a place you wish to go, even for a day! Do not be content with where you are as a Christian, Paul wasn't. Deal with your sin! End the excuses! Then God's witness through you is not hampered nor are you in danger of judgement at the hand of God and you are free to enjoy your life as God child. You can live with the joy of God surrounding you, filling you and overflow to others around you.
Too many times I look around at the faces in church and I do not see joy; I see sadness! Even in our choirs, they sing of God joy and love with frowns on their faces. Do not misunderstand me, all of us have a bad day now and then, but sadly, many churches are filled with those you'd think were attending a funeral rather than worshipping their God!
If you don't understand what it is to walk by the Spirit, ask someone! Kept asking until God reveals it to you! This is what I did and honesty I found that many did not know! God did reveal it to me when I was finally willing to truly listen. I wrote about what I learned in “How to Walk in the Spirit.” God does not wish to hind anything from us! He loves it that we love Him enough to fill ourselves with His Word and do what He