Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 22 2013 - Romans 7:13-8:8 – No condemnation

Romans 7 is one of those chapters that has divided Christian opinion. Is Paul speaking about his pre-conversion experience or about his experience as a Christian? If the former, his words do not seem to fit well with his description of his previously proud complacency over his faultless life (see Philippians 3:6). If the latter, his words seem to paint an over-negative picture that does not fit well with what he says in Romans 6 and 8. This leads some to suggest that Paul is not speaking about personal experience so much as the experience of Israel living under the law.

Be that as it may, Paul certainly paints a readily recognisable picture of our conflicted personalities. All of us are conscious of all manner of inner conflicts that are mercifully invisible to those around us. All of us are aware of the way in which we continually fall short of our own best desires and intentions.

Praise God, then, for Jesus. That’s the note with which Romans 7 ends and 8 begins. God condemned our sin in the person of Jesus so that there is now no condemnation left for us. God raised Jesus from the dead so that the power of his Spirit – the Spirit of life – might be released into our lives, enabling us to live to please God as we live and walk by the Spirit.

Christ’s death and resurrection are the inseparable realities that form the ground of our redemption and the foundation for our Christian lives. We are still far from all that we should be; we continue to suffer all manner of inner conflicts. But our lives do not need to be crippled by guilt and fear. Rather, we need constantly to remind ourselves that Christ has died for us and that our sin and shame has been dealt with once and for all:

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

But there is never any place for complacency in the Christian life as if we can carry on sinning so that God may be able to show more grace. Christ who died for us has been raised for us and we have been raised to new life in him. He who is at the Father’s right hand interceding for us has poured out his Spirit into our lives that we too might live the resurrection life. The Gospel is about the power of God: a power that saves from death; a power that gives life. Death did not have the last word for him; death shall not have the last word in us.

We are called to live by the power of the risen Saviour, living the life we were created to live, a life that is pleasing to God. The mind governed by the Spirit – the mind filled with his risen life and power – is life and peace.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for Jesus. Without him I would be without hope, lost in the tangle and guilt of my own failings and failure. Thank you that Christ died for me and was raised from the dead for me. Help me to understand what this means that it may shape the way I view my life: my past with all its failings and disappointments; my present with all its challenges and opportunities; my future with the hope of resurrection life in all its fullness. Help me to live the resurrection life by the power of the Spirit of the risen Saviour that I may live to your praise and glory.

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Peter Misselbrook