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Free From Condemnation


For the purpose of strengthening the believer in his God-given standing, we shall examine two passages to profitably distinguish two God-breathed words. First notice these words in Romans 8:1 that have blessed believers immeasurably: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”
    Surely there can be no more satanic addition to God’s Word than the last phrase, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Most critical Greek texts omit the phrase, classing it as a transposition from verse 4, and we should remember that even before Paul’s death error was rampant, particularly the desire to add works to God’s grace. The phrase, as it stands in the King James Version, qualifies the statement made in the first part of the verse. The “no condemnation” is made to appear as being applicable only to those walking according to the revelation of the Spirit. Omitting the phrase, the verse stands as an unqualified truth: the “no condemnation” is effective to all who are born again.
       The Word of God always builds up the believer so he can meet the problems of life with a sure knowledge of his position as a son of God with God-given abilities. The rightly-divided Word of God includes the right dividing of the words God chose to use in making known His revelation. Of great importance to the believer is a right dividing of the word “condemnation” in its various usages. It appears twelve times in the King James Version, with no distinction being made to indicate the four Greek words involved. The words “condemn” and “condemned” appear 32 times, with no distinction being made for the eight Greek words involved. Handling God’s Word in translation in such a manner only helps to re-cover truth, rather than recover truth.

An adverse judgement

Before examining this verse in more detail, we should note that the section before us, Romans chapter 8, is a continuation of Romans 5:12-21. Chapters 6 and 7 are parenthetical, answering four questions concerning grace and sin (6:1, 15; 7:7, 13). The structure is further strengthened by noting the usage of the word katakrima, translated “condemnation”. It appears only three times in the Word. In Romans 5:16, 18 we read of condemnation being upon all men, whereas in Romans 8:1 the word is used with the unconditional negative to show freedom from condemnation to a specific group. Romans 5:l2-21 shows the contrast between Adam’s sin and Christ’s sacrifice, both of far-reaching effect upon mankind — the former by nature and the latter by belief. The work of Christ took away condemnation for those who “receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness… by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17).
    The word katakrima belongs to the family of words whose root is krino, “to judge”. The prefix kata, “down”, modifies the root meaning to indicate an adverse judgement; a sentence pronounced against the accused, the crime or punishment being implied. The word “condemnation” is thus a suitable English word to convey the meaning of the original.
    What does this mean to the believer? Let us examine Romans 8:1 one more time. “There is therefore now…” It is a present tense reality that all believers are free from condemnation. Notice the word “now” in the following passages: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested…” (Romans 3:21). “Much more then, being now justified by his blood…” (Romans 5:9). “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we also have now received the atonement [reconciliation]” (Romans 5:11). “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:22). God’s available blessing of sonship is in the “now”, and its point of commencement is clearly stated in Romans 10:9.
    Remember, your freedom from condemnation is not conditional upon your walk, but upon the work of Christ Jesus. Romans 8:2 gives the reason why the statement of verse 1 is true: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
    The believer is free from the old law of weakness, failure, and defeat, for he is now covered by the spiritual law of life in Christ Jesus. The old law had dominion over us, but now “sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). The new “law of the Spirit of life” is stronger than the old “law of sin and death.” With the coming of the greater the lesser terminates. For example, if I drop the pen I am holding, it will fall to the ground because of the law of gravity. But if I place my other hand under the pen as it drops, the law of power and strength in my hand will make the law of gravity ineffective and the pen will no longer fall to the ground. The moment we believed Romans 10:9, the old law of failure and defeat became ineffective because of the strength of the new law of spiritual life in Christ Jesus.
    However, no earthly illustration can depict the brilliance of the glorious freedom of the sons of God. It is no wonder that we read in Galatians the exhortation to “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Every child of God should constantly thank the Father that there is now “no condemnation”.

Adverse knowledge

The second passage that merits our attention in this study is I John 3:19-21: “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.”
    In this passage the word translated “condemn” is kataginosko, used only here and in Galatians 2:11 (“blamed”, middle voice), and with the negative prefix in Titus 2:8. It belong to the great word family whose root is gno, “to know”. Here again the prefix kata, “down”, modifies the root meaning to indicate adverse knowledge; to have knowledge against anyone to his disadvantage; hence to think ill of, to condemn.
    The word “heart” is used figuratively of the mind, the seat of the personal life. That “we are of the truth” (verse 19) is an established fact. However, every believer has the responsibility to “assure [persuade]” his mind before God. This persuasion is accomplished by believing the revelation given to us in the epistles to the seven churches, particularly in Romans and Ephesians.
    “For if our heart [mind] condemn us [with tormenting self-accusation that makes us feel guilty (Amplified Bible)], God is greater than our heart [mind], and knoweth all things” (I John 3:20). Once we have obeyed Romans 10:9, we are children of God regardless of any tormenting self-accusation. The Father knows whom He has fathered; He knows that we are His children, that “we are of the truth”.
    Right before us is the sad picture of the majority of believers today; believers who react to the tormenting self-accusations of their minds rather than acting on the freedom from condemnation that is their right in Christ Jesus.
    How often do we hear these immature believers say, “I’m not worthy…” That is a satanic contradiction of God’s Word and Christ’s redeeming work. You were not worthy before He saved you by His grace, but now you are a child of the family, and “all things are yours” (I Corinthians 3:21).
    How often we have heard these believers say, “I’m a failure…” No, you are not a failure. You may have failed in some particular circumstance, but the Word says you are “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
    How often do we hear people say, “I’m not sure I am a child of God.” That is exactly what Satan likes you to think. The Word says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God…” (I John 3:2).
    Is there an answer to these tormenting self accusations? Yes, let us teach these immature believers what God in Christ has made available to them. Let us encourage them to replace their negative thoughts with the positive statements of God’s Word. Only in this way will they enjoy the more abundant life.
    When God’s Word dominates their negative minds, then I John 3:21 becomes a reality: “Beloved, if our heart [mind] condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” Confidence (or boldness) towards God is our right and privilege, and is the level of fellowship God desires us to have with Him. Here is where we really start tapping into the resources for a more than abundant life. Now Ephesians 1:3 is acted upon: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blesses us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ. ” Ephesians 3:12 becomes a reality at last: “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
    When we were children there were times when we were out of favour with our father because we had broken some family rule. At such times we hesitated to ask for money to buy, say, an ice-cream. We knew by experience the request would be denied. But when we saw evidence that our father was of an agreeable nature, we would make our request with boldness. Unfortunately, we carry over these experiences to our relationship with God. We forget that the illustration is not true in every detail. God our Father is the great unchanging One; He always loves us and wants the best for us. The evidence for this is in the Word. The evidence for our sonship is also in the Word. Thus, if we adjust our thinking to what God says about the situation, confidence towards God will be the result. We will really start taking our place in the family, enjoying our privileges and assuming our responsibilities. And there is nothing greater in this world than a son or daughter of God walking on the greatness of God’s Word.

The two condemnations

We are now in a position to observe that we can be condemned, kataginosko, but we cannot be condemned, katakrima. The kataginosko condemnation will come from our own negative thinking in self-accusation with torment (I John 3:20), or from others (Titus 2:8).
    Titus is addressed to a minister of God, and the section before us is part of an exhortation to be passed on to believers. “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine [teaching] shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned [akataginosko]; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2:6-8).
    Our walk is a walk of freedom in Christ Jesus, but we are careful not to give anyone a reason to think ill of us. Of course, we cannot stop people thinking or speaking evil of us if that is their desire, but we can ensure there is no reason for their condemnation. “He that is of the contrary part” is the one against us or opposing us. He or she can be saved or unsaved, but in the final analysis we discover the work of the adversary, the Devil. It is certainly unfortunate that many times our fellow believers are “of the contrary part”. Too often the power of prejudice is the last thing to be dealt with by the renewing of the mind. “That he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2 :8).
    God’s Word continues to bring edification and comfort to believers. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (I John 3:21). Having rightly divided the matter of condemnation, let us with renewed assurance walk on in victory.

Copyright © 1998 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/

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