Romans 8:38-39 Ephesians 4:17-19 Colossians 1:19-20
Today we are here to talk about the work of Christ in taking away sins and how that has changed all things that pertain to our daily lives. I think that for a very long time we have learned to view the sins of mankind as if only partially taken away. I mean, how else can we view things when we see things as they appear outwardly? When we view the cross of Christ according to man’s fleshly, temporal thoughts, it makes sense that it would be partial, conditional and bent toward human efforts.
The temporal wisdom of man has seemingly always got its claws on the reality of God’s dealing with sin so that it works to reinterpret the whole reality according to its own weakness and limitation. Simply put, flesh can only understand flesh and that is what we have seen hurled upon the miracle of our Lord Jesus Christ. How many times have we viewed ourselves and our lives according to some familiar, temporal idea of the cross? When seeing that way, didn’t we sense that feeling of deafness and deadness in the learning of it? Are we not always looking to the one thought, that one act, that one situation where God would say “nope that’s it, the Cross was not intended to cover THIS!” But, isn’t this thought itself just an imagination of the fleshly mind that wants to endlessly speculate as to what the cross means in ‘practical terms’?
In Ephesians, Paul talks about knowing this ‘height and depth and width’ of the love of Christ. How much do you suppose we who are in Christ have been led about with the idea of the flesh that would try to define this as something according to temporal concepts and wisdom? If Christ came to bring something not of this world, then why on earth do we listen to those that tell us to ‘apply’ the things of God according to the world?
Jim: If sin has truly been taken away then wouldn’t it stand to reason that there is now no more condemnation that can reach those in Christ? No matter how wide or deep or low this experience of life goes?
Romans 8:38-39 Nothing can separate us!
The taking away of sin through the cross of Christ, which brings the forgiveness of sins, may in fact satisfy the demands of the Law, but God did not send his son as the satisfier of the legal nit-picking mind. For that mind can never be satisfied. What I’m saying is that God did not send Jesus on a mission to consciously deal with all those individual sins as we might imagine him as having done. He did not hang on the cross and concentrate on your yet-to-be-committed sins as if in doing so he could pay for them. He paid the price in full by having hung as a sinner condemned to death. It was accomplished without him having to make some kind of a deal with the devil for individual sins committed. He took away our sin by dying on our behalf, by having been condemned in order to bring the answer of death to any possible charges. He died for us, and we died with him, and that leaves no room for condemnation in any court. The argument of “Sorry your honor, the accused is dead” … causes all charges to be dropped from consideration.
No more condemnation Romans 8:1 This declaration came in view of Paul’s testimony as having been consumed by Law, even in the midst of the delusion that the Law still owned him. Paul came to understand the reality of no condemnation in the midst of — as in because of it— having fallen to the lowest low of his own life.
Adam: Talk a little more on Romans 8:1 How and what have people often thought this means? How so?
From my time at Bible college, I became very familiar with viewing Romans 8:1 in a mostly doctrinal manner. When I say doctrinal, I refer to an understanding based upon rote, that is, Biblically-based information learned as any other field of study. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing to learn information. We just need to be mindful of the difference, for there is a whole world that would convince us otherwise … and that includes the natural-minded wisdom of the religious institution.
Now, those who learned Romans 8:1 through the KJV translation may be quick to notice that the verse as we have read it seems to be missing something. And they would be correct. Here’s how it reads in the KJV: [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1, KJV). The additional phrase has been said to have been … added… that is, it was copied over from verse 4 somewhere along the way. Apparently, the branch of manuscripts that were affected were able to be traced back to a common source. Anyhow, doctrines have been constructed based upon the wording that state that the truth of no condemnation is contingient upon the condition of how believers conduct themselves—that is, only as long as they continue to walk after the Spirit (the concept of walking after the Spirit, of course, being assumed as a condition a believer must work at). Truthfully though, even the misplacement of the phrase does not have to be read in view of a condition, but rather as the same description as seen in verse 4. For those in Christ Jesus no longer walk after the flesh but after the Spirit. Just because we might judge outwardly that it cannot not true, we cannot force those judgments to change Paul’s meaning.
Jim: If our sins, which can be seen outwardly, are no longer before God, then wouldn’t we then be able to safely view everything in our lives as no longer defined by sin and its consequences?
Fear of the final straw, as in crossing the line, comes from the mind of death and becomes a self-fulfiling prophecy. Living as if defined by sin and its consequences totally dismisses everything brought about in Christ and the cross. Totally! Viewing ourselves according to sin and its consequences gives us no option other than the performance of some kind of law or set of principles. There is absolutely no room for the truth of Christ when living as if still under the law in some form or another. We think we can add Christ in as a helper along the way. But he is the truth, the life and the way. We are defined by him and his life.
Adam: Talk a bit more about what the ‘mind of death’ is. How do we define the ‘mind of death’?
The mind of death is none other than the same natural mind we often refer to. I use that wording here because it brings attention to the reality that the logic or reasoning of the world does, in fact, come from, as well as lead to death. It is death even though it might appear to be quite alive.
Jim: many times we are tempted to mentally ‘retreat’ whenever the natural mind kicks in and convicts us of sin, but what can we hold onto in times where we are wondering if the peace with God achieved by Christ could be derailed by our failures at outward righteousness?
Romans 7:7-11 The conviction of sin. It is the Law that brings the knowledge of sin, and in turn, sin finds a place to estabish itself through the law. As you suggest, the natural mind convinces us that we are failures, sinners. Yet how often have we attributed this whole process to God’s Spirit?
I suspect many have made huge assumptions based upon Jesus’ statement in John 16:8-11 regarding what would happen when the one he called the Helper would come into the world. It should be noted that the world is said to be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment. It is also more accurate to say that this conviction is concerning—rather than of—sin, righteousness and judgment. The difference is more clearly seen when held up against a traditional usage that would have us imagine that conviction equates to the guilt of exposure. Yes, convict does mean to expose, but what is it that is exposed? Do you see where it says, “of sin” or “concerning sin” and then continues with “because”? Notice how each one — sin, righteousness, and judgment — was commented on in the same way. Now, there are some who call attention to the phrase, but instead of letting the words stand on their own, they get merged together so as to read “the sin of unbelief”. I’ve never noticed these same people try to merge either righteousness or judgment together with their corresponding explanations. Such an approach might allow for an easy-to-understand concept that declares this one sin as paramount in the mind of God, but it misses the point.
The conviction of sin is not said to be focused upon a particular sin, but rather it is sin itself that is exposed before the world because they do not believe in Jesus. You see, the Spirit of Truth was being sent in the coming absence of Jesus, not to be something different to the world … but rather to carry on where Jesus had left off. Jesus had been exposing sin, righteousness, and judgment in the world by his mere presence. Consider how it was the working of Law in those who opposed Jesus by which their mouths had been shut and by which they skulked away in shame. Did Jesus bring the shame … or did his simple presence and his words of life expose the lies and deception so that in their attempt to use the Law against him they found themselves as transgressors, even to the extreme of conspiring and putting to death the only truly innocent man they had ever come against? The Spirit of Truth is not some nebulous ghost roaming about the world looking for victims to haunt, rather this is the life of Christ that has taken up residence in those who are his. His presence in us causes this same exposure in those who oppose us in order to condemn. For those who attempt to convict us of sin use their own accomplishments or superiority against us, they have created their own traps that eventually undo them.
Colossians 1:19-20 What do we hold onto when it seems our failures could derail the peace he brought? The one who brought peace through his cross. The one who reconciled us. You see, within ourselves is the witness of this truth, for that witness is Christ.
Jim: How does this all connect to the testimony of Paul of the height and depth and width of the love of God? How about with reference to sin?
Romans 8:38-39 Notice how there is no reference to sin in the list of things Paul mentioned that can separate us. Did he just forget? You know, was the mention of sin some kind of oversight? Or did he not list it because sin can still separate us from the love of God? Now if you worry about this, I’d have to say that you’re probably holding to the same fear that undermines the confidence of the majority of those who claim to believe in Jesus Christ.