Paul: The Chief of Sinners? (Pt 6)

Daily Devotion | Day 350

“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. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, NKJV).

Today’s opening Scripture is a continuation of what Paul has been saying in the preceding chapter in his Letter to the Romans. In 7:13-25 he described the guilt, condemnation and helplessness associated with bondage to sin and one’s inability to submit fully to God’s law. After crying for someone to deliver him from the body of death, he exclaimed, “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25).

From chapter 8, Paul explains at length why he is grateful to God. He is thankful because the experience he described in 7:13-25 is over. That was his former life under the law, before he became a new creation in Christ. He was not describing a Christian’s struggle with sin; rather, he was describing the sin struggles of a Jew under the law, a man who had not experienced redemption in Christ yet. Therefore, it would be a mistake for Christians to quote from Romans 7:13-25 either: (a) to show that Paul (the Christian and Apostle) was a sinner or (b) to explain why Christians today continue to commit sin.

Paul dedicates the whole of chapter 8 to explaining the new found freedom in Christ and its implications for the believer in this world and in the next. Chapter 8 is a description of the born again life. Paul now has found a deliverer and a savior in Christ. His sins have been washed away by Jesus. In addition, he has received from Him power not to fall into sin and condemnation again. The new Paul walks in victory over sin, as all Christians should. Freed from the dominion of sin and filled with the power of the Spirit, he now is able to submit fully to God.

This is the reason Paul opens the chapter with an emphatic declaration of victory and freedom: “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.” Born again people suffer no more condemnation for two reasons. First, they are in Christ. Second, they walk according to the leading and empowerment of the Spirit.

With great joy Paul further testifies, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” This is the new Paul, the Paul who met Jesus, who was saved from his sins and became filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the born again Paul. This Paul and the one described in Romans 7:13-25 are two different people. The former is a Christian and a new creation; the latter is not.

The new Paul is a free man, no longer a slave to sin. This is his testimony. And all Christians, like Paul, should be able to testify to this freedom in Christ: freedom from sin and its attending condemnation. Jesus died, after all, to offer us this very freedom: “He shall save His people from their sins,” the angel told Joseph (Matthew 1:21). Later on in His ministry, Jesus confirmed this offer of freedom from sin when He stated, “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin . . . Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36).

Freedom from committing sin is the most important and the most precious freedom in Christ. This freedom is made possible by the redemption in Christ (through His blood; this includes forgiveness of sins) and our new walk in the Spirit. The result of this freedom is a life of no condemnation. This is what Paul experienced as a Christian, exactly as Jesus envisioned for all believers. But why, one may wonder, do many Christians still struggle with sin on a regular basis? That is a good question, but it is a discussion for another day.

This concludes our current series. Next time you read Paul’s writings, I pray you find inspiration to pursue righteousness, holiness and freedom in Christ. Stay free, stay blessed. And remain in the grace of Christ Jesus. Amen.

For further studyActs 9:1-30 and John 8:1-12

More Than Conquerors

What words can sufficiently describe the victory we have in Christ Jesus? Paul attempted to share the revelation of our victory in the following words:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:37-39, NIV; emphasis mine).

  What does it mean to be more than conquerors? Why is just being a conqueror not enough? This is a powerful revelation which defies the logic of the natural mind. Such profound revelation can be grasped only with the help of the Holy Spirit. We know that Christ died on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended to take his throne at the right hand of God. From the cross to the throne, our victory is utterly complete in Christ.  In the passage cited above, Paul mentions nine specific things, including powers visible and invisible, which are incapable of separating us from the love of God in Christ. That statement is one way of asserting the believer’s unshakable assurance of salvation and of our eternal union with Christ. This statement also reveals an important fact: From the cross to the throne, Christ and Christians are inseparable. Yes, inseparable! The result is that the victory of Christ from the cross to the throne is the victory of the Christian as well.

I am going to share with you just three passages from the New Testament which will show you the utterly amazing nature of our victory in Christ Jesus. My hope is that you will realize why every day of your life should be spent in complete confidence, never again living in fear of death, hell, demons, condemnation, or separation from God. To be a conqueror is enough; but to be more than a conqueror is something else; but that is precisely who you are in Christ – more than a conqueror!

Our first Scripture passage is from Romans 6:3-4:

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (NIV; emphasis mine). 

From the cross to his throne, Jesus did nothing without us. We were with him all the way. As you can see from the passage in Romans 6, on the cross, we were crucified together with Christ. Then, we were buried together with Christ. We know that it was on the cross that Jesus made complete eternal satisfaction for sin. We died a real ontological (not metaphorical) death together with Christ. What was the result? Our old being or spiritual self which was stained with sin and deserving of condemnation died along with Christ and was buried (literally) with Christ. This means that when all our sins (past, present, or future; the timing of our sins makes no difference to the cross. What happened on the cross was a once-for-all event which transcends all divisions of time) and the corresponding penalty for sin were finished when we died with Christ and were buried with him. In other words, the crucifixion of Christ was our crucifixion. His death was our death, and his burial was our burial. We and Christ were inseparable from the cross onward.

If this sounds overwhelming for you, I understand. It happened to me too, at first. Just pause for a moment, and give yourself time to think about it or better still, pray about it, because the spiritual realities we are talking about now concern your eternal destiny. God wants you to understand and believe it for what it is, for it is a matter of life and death. Have an open mind and allow God to lavish you with his love. I trust God to help you grasp this revelation. Once you grasp it, Satan is exposed for who he is (liar, deceiver, murderer, accuser) and you will enjoy lasting peace, joy, freedom, and confidence. You will even notice changes in your body! Don’t be surprised. The lies of Satan are toxic, not only to our spirit, but to our body as well. In the same way, knowledge of the truth is liberating and it brings healing to our whole being, spirit, body, and soul.

Lets’ return to the Scripture. Through his crucifixion, death, and burial, Jesus paid for all the condemnation we deserved for our sins. The power of sin over us, and it’s ability to hold us captive under judgement was broken. So, Jesus’s victory over sin was our victory. At the cross we won, because we and Jesus were inseparable. Do you see what is happening? None of this is merely symbolic or metaphorical. When Christ died, the old “you” (i.e. the sinner “you”) died a real death together with Christ, then it was buried, never again to be seen. Your “old you,” the one who deserved hell, no longer exists. He or she is dead and forever buried! This is victory!. You should be shouting at this point! But there’s more to come. God is not done with you, yet.

We will now look at our second Scripture passage which takes us to the resurrection of Christ.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6-7; NIV; emphasis mine)

We know that God raised Christ from the dead. But the complete truth is that God raised us together with Christ. That means you are risen from the dead together with Christ. Does this sound like victory? Think about this for a minute. And say it aloud so you can hear yourself: I am risen with Christ! Again, we are not dealing with the metaphorical. This is reality of realities. The passage from Ephesians tells us about two things the Father did to us and Christ. He raised us with Christ. He didn’t stop there. He also seated (Notice the past tense, referring to a completed action) us with him (the Father). Where? In the heavenly realms! Do you see where God has placed you? More than that, you are in Christ Jesus. You are in heaven already! Do you see yourself there? These are spiritual realities to be grasped with spiritual minds. Human logic will break down in the face of this supernatural truth. Notice the pattern of the expression “with Christ,” from the time of the cross to Christ being seated in heaven. Christ and us are inseparable. His victory is our victory. And nothing can separate us from him. We and Christ are united by an eternal ontological bond. Therein lies the truth of the statement, “We are more than conquerors.” We are not just conquerors.

We are spiritually seated with Christ in the heavenly places. What can possibly make you doubt God again? What can possibly make you panic? What can make you think that you will go to hell? What can possibly separate you from Christ? What can possibly make you live under condemnation? What can make you afraid of Satan? Satan is afraid of you, because you reign now with Christ from the heavens. Satan is under your feet, including all powers of darkness. You and Jesus share the same power! You are joint-heirs with Christ. What could possibly make you feel inferior? What could possibly make you feel powerless? Nothing!

Our third and final passage is from Colossians 3:1-4:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (NIV; emphasis mine). 

Take a look at v.4. Notice how the Apostle says that on the last day when Christ appears, we also will appear with him in glory. Do you see how we and Christ are inseparable? And why will we appear with him? The answer is simple. We will appear with Christ, because our life is hidden with him in God. This means Christ and us are one. He cannot appear in glory without us. Our future looks glorious! For those who believe in Christ hell is no longer an issue. We are past that point, and that is why we are more than conquerors. Jesus was not crucified without us. He was not buried without us. He did not rise from the dead without us. He did not ascend to heaven without us. He is not seated on the throne without us. And on the last day, he will not appear in glory without us. How amazing! What can separate us from the love of Christ? Nothing! We are more than conquerors indeed.

At then end of this message, I invite you to say the following prayer with me:

Father, you are love, and your love for me is stronger than I can imagine. Thank you for the great love you have shown me. Thank you for washing away all my sins through the blood of Jesus. Thank you that I am risen with Christ. Thank you that you have seated me with you in the heavenly places. Thank you that you have made me more than a conqueror. Thank you for the truth you have shown me. From this day forward, I set my mind on things above where Christ is seated. I take authority in the name of Jesus. I declare that I am more than a conqueror. I declare that I am free from the power of Satan. I am free from fear, guilt and condemnation. I declare my freedom from all demonic bondage. I am alive in Christ. And I live for Christ alone. Amen.

God bless you.

Steve