Living Life in The Spirit: Set Free From Condemnation
When the eyes of your heart were opened and you realized there was need in your life for God's salvation, and as you began your new life following Jesus one thing you were confronted with is this reality of tension between your desire to live for God and the temptation to sin. Do not take it from me though, take it from Paul. He wrote the book of Romans and in it we see a passage in chapter 7 where we read about this war that rages between his desire to do what is right but not having the ability to do so.
First in Romans 7:14-17 we see this tension Paul expresses that he does not do the good he wants to do but he does the very thing he hates (15). Then we come to Romans 7:18-20 and Paul observes this "desire to do what is is right, but not the ability to carry it out." Then we come to Romans 7:21-23 where Paul recognizes this is war that takes place between our "inner being" and "sin that dwells in my members", that is his flesh. So we see that Paul is talking as if he is two persons, one inner man and one external man, and in fact that is what he is saying. He saying that his redeemed soul dwells in a body of sin. Therefore you see this tension between the two, one delights in Christ and the other delights in sin. What a tension! If you are a follower of Christ you are well aware of this tension.
Do not read this and conclude that because Paul expresses this tension that we have a license to sin; we don't. Truth is the Bible speaks against intentional sin. 1 John 3:8 states, "Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil"; 1 John 3:9 records, "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning"; and 1 John 3:10 expresses "whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God". Thus the Scriptures teach that no one born of God can continue to make willful, intentional, habitual decisions to sin.
Instead the Scriptures teach that no one born of God keeps on sinning, "we know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning". Now many look at this and think that means that Christians are free from sin, as if they sin no more. But this is not what John is saying at all. What John is saying is no one born of God continues to make a practice of sin. They do not make peace with their sin. They do not settle for sin. Instead, there is this on going tension to live for God and resist the temptation of their flesh as Paul expresses in Romans 7. So then what I think Paul is getting into in Romans 7 is this - as long as you live in the world in this body there will be this on going tension, this on going war and this on going struggle with our temptation to sin.
For a point of clarification understand that living life in the Spirit does not exempt us from the temptations of our flesh. In fact the author of Hebrews writes to believers "Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood" in 12:3,4. This acknowledges that as believers we will "struggle against sin" but the writer encourages to "not grow weary or fainthearted" in our fight against it, and when we do become weary and fainthearted to consider Jesus who shed his blood on the cross. We have not struggled against our sin nature to the point we have had to shed blood, so keep fighting against the temptation to sin!
Let's look back at Romans 7:24,"wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" He concludes that he is a wretched man because of the body of sin that he dwells in while having this desire to live for God. So who can deliver Paul? He answers in verse 25, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." Who can deliver Paul? God can and God has! God delivered Paul by crushing Jesus under the weight of sin on the cross! He has delivered us all.
So then because of what God has done through Jesus on the cross "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). We are sinners, but because of Jesus' death on the cross, when we believe in Him as the Son of God and commit our life to following Him, our sins are no longer counted against us. There are no grounds of conviction for those who believe in Jesus! Therefore, living life in the Spirit begins with being set free from condemnation.