1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The Christian’s freedom from condemnation is declared here – “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (v. 1a).
The phrase, “There is therefore”, refers us back to the previous chapter, where the Christian’s spiritual struggles against the flesh are discussed. However, it ended with a great shout of victory and joy – “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25).
After reminding us of our spiritual conflicts, the apostle Paul declares: “now no condemnation”. In this great statement, Paul seeks to eradicate whatever doubt a Christian may have concerning salvation, which has started the reality of the spiritual battle within every Christian. What does our present struggle with the flesh and its lust prove? Does it mean that we are not saved yet? Are we still under the bondage of sin and the curse of the law? Amidst our present struggle against the temptations of the flesh, it is unequivocally declared unto us for our comfort and strengthening – “There is therefore now no condemnation”!
The word “no”, though it appears as the fifth word in our translation, is the first in the Greek text. Paul placed it at the front in order to emphasise in the strongest possible way that there is no condemnation. Moreover, Paul used a stronger word of negation than is typically employed in the Greek language. So one might translate: “No condemnation – none whatsoever”. The word “condemnation” (katakrima) indicates a “damnatory sentence”. There is no sentencing or punishment for those who have believed on Christ. The just penalty incurred by our sins has been paid for by the death of Christ.
The freedom from the condemnation of sins belongs “to them which are in Christ Jesus”. All those who are joined to Christ by faith are declared to be absolutely free from God’s judgment. Every Christian is “in Christ Jesus” spiritually. Those who are in Christ Jesus are also described as those “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”. He who has first of all been freely justified, is to thereafter walk after the Spirit to be a sanctified vessel. Justification leads to sanctification – and not to further moral and spiritual degeneration or corruption (cf. v. 4).