It is important when studying the Word of God to understand a few simple principles. One of the most important principles of Bible study is to consider the context. This means that we must not isolate scripture from its text when attempting to interpret its meaning. The above scriptural verse can only be understood in light of its surrounding text.
The text that supports this scripture is rather broad; it begins with chapter 3 and ends with chapter 8. Most people believe that the beginning of chapter 8 is the conclusion of what Paul wrote in chapter 7, but it covers all of what Paul had written from chapter 3 forward to this point.
In chapter 3, Paul established that all have sinned (Romans 3:23). In chapter 6 he revealed that the punishment for sin was death (Romans 6:23). In chapter 7, Paul pointed to the natural impulse of humans to do what is wrong in the sight of God; the presence of the sin nature (Romans 7:15-25).
Chapter 8 is where Paul explains how God, through grace (God’s unmerited favor), provides all that is necessary for man to overcome his fallen state. Verse 1 of this chapter introduces the neutralizing force of God’s grace. To this point, Paul had pointed out that “man” (all of humanity) was in a hopeless position. Sin was not acceptable to God. In fact, the punishment for sin was death (both physically and spiritually).
Before moving on, let’s take a look at death that comes as a result of sin. In order to do this we need to take a look into the book of Genesis.
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17, King James Version)
Although physical death was partly implicit here, it was not the primary focus. This can be understood by the fact that neither Adam nor Eve died the day that they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So what type of death was implied? Spiritual death was implicit in God’s command here. Spiritual death can best be explained as total separation from God. It is the inability of man to have a relationship with His creator. The Bible reveals that God is a Spirit and all who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. Being spiritually dead severs the connection between man and God.
Since Adam was the corporate head of humanity (meaning he was the representation of all humans before God), when he sinned God accounted that sin to all of humanity (Romans 5:12-17). It is important to understand this. All humans are born spiritually dead because the sin of Adam is applied to the account of every individual. Long before actively committing your first sin, sin had already been accounted to you.
Romans Chapter 5 verses 12-17 reveal that Adam was the first representation of humanity and through him sin entered into the world. This passage further reveals that Christ was the second corporate head of humanity. Through Adam, sin entered the world and through Christ sin was taken away.
So, when verse 1 says that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ, it is saying that what you were unable to accomplish on your own, being sinners, Christ executed on your behalf. Only one that has not sinned can take upon Himself the sins of all. Christ was the perfect, unblemished sacrifice.
Bible scholars have often called the eighth chapter of Romans the crown jewel of the Bible. This is because it is loaded with doctrines (centralized teachings) that reveal God’s grace to mankind. What makes verse 1 of chapter eight so important is the fact that it frees the believer from having a guilt complex, based on their natural proclivity to sin. This does not mean that sin isn’t judged and that it has no consequence, it simply means that sin no longer has the power to separate the believer from God. Spiritual death has been eradicated from the equation.
Why is understanding the truth revealed in verse 1 so important? It is important for a couple of reasons. The first thing is that is provides the liberation from the burden of sin that can weigh down the believer. The burden of guilt can be quite a load to carry; verse 1 takes away that burden. When a believer carries guilt because of past mistakes and failures, it can cripple them and render them incapable of fulfilling their designed purpose as they carry out God’s plan for their lives.
Secondly, the apprehension of verse 1 provides the clarity necessary to understand verses 5-14. Paul has taken the time to lay out these doctrinal truths with great accuracy and detail. One truth lays the foundation for a greater truth. Because Christ has paid the price for your sin, they can no longer be charged or held against you as a means of destroying your relationship with God. This verse provides the confidence necessary for the believer the carry out their mission here on earth.
The eighth chapter of Romans presents a number of powerful truths, such as the fact that believers have been grafted into the royal family of God through spiritual adoption. It reveals that God works everything that happens in your lives (good and bad) together to achieve what is ultimately best for you. It also reveals that you have the power to conquer every obstacle that you will face in your lives. All of these things are presented upon the foundation of your freedom from condemnation.
(by Dr. Rick Wallace)
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