One of my least favorite things ever, is having someone quote a scripture passage to me in the hopes of defending the status quo of their existence. It is not because they desire to search out the Scriptures and see what they say, it is because they’ve already made up their mind, concluded that they are unwilling to part with their sin, and as a straw man argument they quote a random verse meant to justify their lifestyle. Most of the time they don’t even quote the whole verse because it would nullify their argument, so they choose a handful of words and run with them as though they were being chased by a rabid dog.
By far, the most often quoted scripture I have to contend with whenever the topic of holiness, righteousness or sanctification comes about and someone just doesn’t want to pursue them is Romans 8:1. Mind you, it’s not the whole verse they quote, just the first half, because it’s that first half that justifies their lukewarm lifestyle.
‘There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,’ and that’s as far as they get, because to go further would be to undo their own argument.
First, the entirety of the verse says this:
Romans 8:1, “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
There are certain truths we must extract from this verse if we are to understand it correctly, apply it to our lives, and understand the difference between conviction, condemnation, and why we cannot view the two as interchangeable.
First off, to quote the first half of this verse without acknowledging the existence of the second half is disingenuous and pharisaical. Paul spells out what it means to be in Christ Jesus, and what it means to be in Christ Jesus is to no longer walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
If we walk according to the Spirit, then we are walking in righteousness and holiness, because the Spirit of God will never lead us to sin, compromise, or the things of the world.
Anyone who insists that the Spirit gave them freedom to pursue worldly lusts, to return to the mire from which they were plucked, or to embrace those things which God calls sin, is not being led by the Spirit of God, but by the spirit of this world.
Throughout my years of ministry and of preaching the truth of God’s Word I have caused a considerable amount of anger among believers because they interpreted the conviction of the Lord as my condemning them.
Once again, there is a difference between conviction, and condemnation. It is when we confuse the two that we grow angry with those whom God has brought in our path in order to correct us.
When one is convicted they are declared guilty of a certain thing. When one is condemned they are sentenced to a particular punishment for what they have been convicted of.
When God convicts us of something, it is so we might repent, and turn away from it.
When God condemns men of something, He has already passed sentence, the punishment has been established, and there is no room for recourse, repentance, or appeals.
God convicts us so He won’t have to condemn us.
When we are in Christ there is no condemnation. When we know we have erred, when God convicts us, we can repent, and upon repenting we are forgiven.
This, however, does not mean there is never conviction when we are in Christ.
As God chisels and molds us, as we continue to mature and grow ever more in His likeness, there are new things He convicts us of. Things we must lay aside and do away with. God does not convict us so that He might later condemn us; He convicts us out of love and a desire to see us grow in Him, and in His likeness.
No, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ, because they are no longer walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. There is however conviction and it is when God stops convicting us that we should start to worry and show concern.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.