For so long, Christianity has been a religion of condemnation for human beings.
Since the earliest days of the church, Christianity has been rooted in a mindset of judgment and condemnation. Read any history of Christianity (I suggest Diarmaid MacCulloch’s masterful and lengthy tome) and you will read a history of people coming into conflict over how they each think the other is failing to live correctly. It’s a history of rules and laws and do’s and don’ts.
We see this so much today. Christianity in it’s modern context is one is which clobber verses are all the rage. We love to point out what others are doing wrong; we love condemning those we think are straying from the path or committing what we view as egregious sin.
This faith, this Christianity, is a religion of rules.
And we wonder why the church is sinking.
This religion of condemnation is not the Way of Life shown by Jesus. Christianity was not founded as a legal code.
Christianity in it’s purest form is, simply, love.
Paul hits that point perfectly in this passage. After spending the second half of chapter 7 ruminating on humans’ inability to live according to the rules and laws we are supposed to live by, it seems like he is speeding headlong towards more exhortation to live in purity.
And then BANG.
He clobbers us with 8:1.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
He goes on: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
This is big, radical stuff. This is, like, totally what that Jesus guy was saying.
In the Kingdom of God, there is no place for judgment, for condemnation, for pointing fingers.
We are enveloped in God’s everlasting love and mercy and grace. We cannot escape from it. Paul describes this so beautifully in 8:38,
“For I am convinced that neither
nor things present,
nor things to come,
nor anything else
in all creation
will be able to separate us from the love of God.”
Yes! Isn’t that great rhetoric from Paul? Such a wonderful piece of work; and it’s all true! Nothing can ever separate us from God and God’s love!
We are forever and always guaranteed to be in God, and for God to be in us, and around us, and loving us. No amount of messing up, breaking rules, violating the Law can ever keep us from that relationship. We are forever liberated from the fear of death found in the law, embodied in sin. We are free.
Christianity is not a religion of condemnation. Christianity is not a legal code.
Christianity is a relationship of eternal life, built on love, sustained by faith, and guaranteed by grace. Forever. No exceptions.
Next: Romans 10-12