There is therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is a promise that has given many believers great hope throughout the centuries. It is a promise of both immediate and eternal freedom. In Christ, I am free right now and I am free forever. It is a promise that reminds me that the chains of my sin have been broken. The power of Satan has been destroyed. The penalty of death has been obliterated. All of this has been made possible through the horrific death and victorious resurrection of Jesus.
If you are believer, this promise of immediate and eternal liberation is a promise that you can stake your life on. If you are not a believer, this promise of immediate and eternal liberation is an invitation. It’s an invitation to walk out of the jail cell, to leave the prison camp, to evacuate the slave plantation and walk in freedom.
But liberation from that which enslaves you can often be a scary thing. One author said, “The most terrifying thing about any kind of liberation of the soul is that I have no control over when or how it happens.” When I recognized that I was in slavery or bondage to the power of Satan, sin and death I began to live with a simultaneous hope of being liberated and also the fear of what I would do with my newfound freedom. How would I live? Where would I go? What would I do? Would I have to make new friends?
Think about it. You’re enslaved to sexual sin. What will the other side of liberation be like? You’re in bondage to fear. What will the other side of liberation be like? You’re in a jail cell of your pride, your envy, your jealousy, your anger, your impatience, your selfishness or your loneliness. What will the other side of liberation be like? Again, the most terrifying thing about any kind of liberation of the soul is that you have no control over how or when it happens.
This is the beauty of the sovereignty of God in salvation. If my salvation (my liberation) depended on me, then I would never experience immediate or eternal freedom. I would always walk around in fear that I would do something to mess up the freedom I had earned. The new life I built for myself would always be in danger of crumbling with the next sin. I would be obligated to work hard to keep together what I had built. My identity would be all wrapped up in my performance.
Slavery and bondage affects my life, my obligations and my identity. But so does freedom because when the Spirit sets you free then you are free from the pressure to perform and the pressure to earn. According to verses 11 – 17 of our text, when the Spirit of the living God sets you free you can count on receiving a new life a new obligation and a new identity. These are the benefits of the newly resurrected life in Christ Jesus. Look at verses 11 – 17 again with me:
Paul says If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. When the Spirit of the living God sets you free you can count on receiving a new life a new obligation and a new identity.
#1: I Have A New Life (11)
Do you ever dream of getting a new life? The one you are living feels like a jail cell. Seems like you go through the same motions day in and day out. You wonder if this is all there is to your existence. The American dream doesn’t seem to be all that satisfying anymore. A 9 – 5 job, a spouse, 2.5 kids, a house with a 2 stall garage, a little nest egg in the bank, a green back yard, a couple good running cars, cable TV, a dog and a goldfish and you can’t figure out why you still dream of having more.
No matter how many things you accomplish you still feel empty and frustrated. You keep dreaming about a new life where the grass is greener than the grass you have because you haven’t tasted the goodness of the new life you have in Christ. This is a common experience among God’s people today. We want more entertainment, more stories, more accomplishments, more, more, more and more.
I need to be reminded that in Christ I have a new life. Paul says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Not only have I been given a brand new life but the One who gave me that life also lives inside of me. The one who set me free has taken up residence in my soul. The Spirit of the living God has saved me, redeemed me, transformed me and also empowered me. What more could I possibly want?
The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead has raised my heart from the dead. He has loosened the shackles of death. He has released me from the prison of my sin. He has conquered every enemy that comes against me. Fear has no place in my heart. Lust has no bedroom in my soul. Greed has no safety deposit box in my mind. Control has no control over me.
The Spirit of the living God dwells inside of me and he has given me a brand new heart and he is developing a brand new heart, mind and soul of absolute trust, purity, generosity and surrender in me. This is the new life of the resurrected Jesus dwelling in and through me. And that’s not all. Not only do I have a brand new life but I also have a brand new obligation.
#2: I Have A New Obligation (12 – 13)
I’ve often talked about the relationship between the “got to” and the “want to”. I want something so bad that it forces me into a “got to” kind of mentality. I want to be respected so I got to accomplish more. I want to be accepted so I got to tread carefully around this person or that person. I want to be in control so I got to know more than anyone else in the room. I want to be comfortable so I got to eliminate anything that could be a risk.
The “want to” feeds the “got to” and the “got to” fuels the “want to”. This is like an unholy trinity with me at the center. When I constantly feed the thing that my soul craves then I get stuck in a cycle of the “got to” and the “want to”. In this cycle, my flesh dictates what I want and my sin fuels what I got to do. This is a place of sickness, sin, disease, corruption, prison, enslavement and condemnation. It’s a place of death masquerading as life.
It’s a place that is commonly referred to a banquet in the grave where I feast on anything and everything that I am starving for and the result is that I sit in that grave and I feast and I feast and I feast because the food of my want to and the dessert of my got to only staves me more and more. I’m never satisfied because my unholy want to and my sinful got to only produce more starvation and sickness.
Paul knows this struggle really well. He’s already alluded to it back in Romans 7:14 – 25. And here in verses 12 – 13 he says “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” You see, in Christ I have a new obligation. I have a new want to and I have a new got to. I am no longer enslaved to sin. I am no longer in bondage to the flesh. The payment for sin is death but I have a new life that is full of peace and spiritual vitality.
I know that my sinful want to has been crucified with Christ and it’s no longer I who live but him who lives in and through me. My want to is different now therefore my got to is different now to. This all means that I can actively work every day to resist the effects of Satan, sin and death because I know that I am working not in my own strength but in the strength of the Spirit who is alive and working in and through me.
When I want to give in to the promise of lust I can resist in the power of the Spirit. I don’t have to buy the promise of lust any longer because I know the promise is empty. When I want to surrender to the promise of greed I can resist in the strength of the Spirit who is alive inside of me. I don’t need to surrender to the promise of greed because I know that the promise is bankrupt. This is the new obligation of the resurrected Jesus dwelling in and through me. And that’s not all. Not only do I have a brand new life and a brand new obligation but I also have a brand new identity.
#3: I Have A New Identity (14 – 17)
What I do does not dictate who I am. Who I am dictates what I do. If I am an enemy of God then I will live like an enemy of God. If I am a child of God then I will live like a child of God. And Paul says, “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
In Christ I have a new identity. My new identity is the identity of a child of God. There is therefore now no condemnation for me. I don’t need to hide my sin. I don’t need to grovel in my sin. And I certainly don’t need to live in the pigpen believing that this is the best life I can hope for in my weakened, sick and sinful state.
My Father isn’t too afraid or weak to take care of what I’ve broken. He’s declared me perfect because of Christ’s work at the cross and the empty tomb. Therefore I can run into his presence and throw myself on his lap and soak up his joy over me as he fixes my broken life. He walked into the orphanage of Satan, sin and the grave and he called me by name. He adopted me. He signed my adoption papers in the irrevocable blood of his Son Jesus. And He has set his affection upon me.
His Spirit proclaims freedom to my soul, liberation to my mind and sonship to my heart. I belong to him and nothing can ever change that. I can run down the driveway in my grave clothes and my Father will meet me there every time with a brand new set of spotless clothes to cover my nakedness as he reminds me that my guilt and shame have been removed through the work of Jesus at the cross.
His Spirit inside of me preaches this message to me daily as I walk in relationship with him. When I spend time with my Father in prayer and Scripture study he renews my mind, my heart and my soul with this message. He says, “Through the shed blood of my Son Jesus, you are mine. I don’t despise you. I delight in you. I am not disappointed in you. I am delighting over you. I’m not disgusted with you. I am delighted in you. You are not defined by your destructive behavior. You are defined by my delight over you in the cross of Chris.”
I am an heir to the King’s delight over me. When it comes time to suffer in the face of temptation, sin or persecution, I am enabled by the power of the Spirit to suffer with him as I look forward to the hope of Heaven. This is what Paul means when he says that we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him
Our future glorification is our future hope. This is the hope of the resurrection. We know that since Christ has been resurrected he has also been glorified in Heaven. Therefore we have the same hope because we have the same identity. It’s a resurrection identity. The sin that Jesus died for doesn’t define you any longer. Satan has no power over you and the grave is not the final answer to your life.
Satan, sin and the grave have been crucified with Christ and they were destroyed on the third day when the stone was rolled away and our Savior walked out of his grave. This is your identity if you’ve trusted in Christ. This is the new identity of the resurrected Jesus dwelling in and through you and me.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you have trusted in Jesus then you have a new life, a new obligation and a new identity. This is the hope of Easter. On Friday night Jesus died a brutal death but on Sunday he rose again and walked out of the grave. Death has been destroyed. Sin has been erased. Satan has been crushed.
When the power of hell seems to be unbearable, when the promise of sin appears on the horizon, when the fear of death consumes you, you can stand up and say there is therefore now no condemnation for me because I am in Christ Jesus. The resurrected Christ has given me a new life, a new got to and a new identity. The resurrected Christ is living in and through me by the power of the Spirit of the living God.