So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Paul says, “I want to do good. I believe in it. I delight in God’s law — God’s holy nature — in my inner being. I am changed; I agree that the law is good, but I find I can’t do it.” In his mind Paul is awakened to the value and the righteousness of God’s law, but set against that is this sin that is in his flesh that takes hold of him and makes him a slave to the law of sin, even though he does not want to be.
How does Paul break this hold? Paul is saying though we struggle at times, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. The reason there is no condemnation is given in just one little phrase: “in Christ.” That goes right back to our justification by faith: We came out of Adam, We are in Christ, and God will never condemn those who are in Christ. He never will! We have to understand what “no condemnation” means. Certainly, the most basic element in it is that there is no rejection by God. God does not turn us aside, he does not kick us out of his family. If we are born into the family of God by faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us, and he will never, never leave us. Another thing “no condemnation” means is that God is not angry with you when this struggle comes into your life. You want to be good, or you want to stop doing bad, but, when the moment of temptation comes, you find yourself overpowered and weak, and you give way. Then you hate yourself. You go away frustrated, feeling, “Oh, what’s the matter with me? Why can’t I do this thing? Why can’t I act like I want to?” And though you may condemn yourself, God does not. He is not angry with you about that.
The beautiful figure is that of a tender, loving father, watching his little boy begin to take his first steps. No father ever gets angry with his little son because he doesn’t get right up and start running around the first time he tries to walk. If the child falls and stumbles and falters, the father helps him; he doesn’t spank him. He lifts him up, encourages him, and shows him how to do it right. And if the child has a problem with his feet, maybe one foot is twisted or deformed, the father finds a way to relieve that condition and help him to learn to walk. That is what God does. He is not angry when we are struggling. He knows it takes awhile — quite awhile, at times. And even the best of saints will, at times, fall. This was true of Paul, it was true of the apostles, and it was true of all the prophets of the Old Testament. Sin is deceitful and it will trip us at times. But God is not angry with us.
Heavenly Father, I am forever grateful that you are slow to anger when I continue to run and follow things of this world. Thank you for your patience and the abundance of grace I receive each day.
What do we do with the guilt inevitably resulting from our sin and failure? Do we seize the pre-paid grace-gift of God’s forgiveness? Do we then live free from condemnation and free to the quality-control of His Spirit?