18 April 2016

Romans 8:1-11

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (v. 1)

Psalm: Psalm 73:1-14


Paul writes much about the struggle between the law of the Spirit and the law of sin; and in this passage he refers to living "according to the flesh" (v. 4). "The flesh" here is thought to mean the jurisdiction of the world. Living "according to the flesh" is not so much about our giving in to specific temptations but about the orientation of our lives, the limits of our horizons, or the ways in which we embrace and are guided by values and patterns of behaviour that are not of God: it is about habits of thought and ways of being that restrict our perception of God's glory and impair our relationships with others and with God.

And yet, God has acted in Jesus. There has been a decisive moment which makes possible new ways of seeing and different patterns of relating. A new time and way of existing has begun. We need no longer have our ways determined by the world, and the world does not ultimately determine who and what we are.

This does not mean that followers of Jesus are no longer capable of doing things to hurt themselves, others or God, and there are times when we may feel overwhelmed by the injustice and suffering we see and experience, or when we may feel trapped by our anxieties, burdens or own limitations. Yet the law of flesh, sin and death, does not have the final say. There is nothing that in the end cannot be overcome. Jesus is our salvation and peace. Those who are in Christ Jesus do not suffer "condemnation". Through the Spirit we are enabled to live within a different jurisdiction, and are given the possibility of new ways of seeing and new ways of being. Those who root and orientate themselves in Christ, those who "set [their] mind on the Spirit" (v. 6), discover the path to life and peace.

To Ponder

  • How do you understand the verse: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"? What kind of assurance does this bring?
  • What are the things that nourish your discipleship and help you to "set [your] mind on the Spirit" (v. 6)?

Bible notes author

The Revd Nicola Price-Tebbutt

Nicola Price-Tebbutt is a presbyter in the Methodist Church. She has previously served in circuit in Sheffield and as a tutor at Hartley Victoria College in Manchester.