Romans 8:1-4 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
One day, our family was out on a hike when we reached a fork in the road. Set before us were two paths – one went up and the other went down. Our family was divided over which path to take and so we argued for a bit and then broke into two groups and headed to explore the two paths. The path up led back to our car, which is where we sat enjoying the air conditioning, while those who took the dead-end path down had to turn around, retrace their steps, and take the road up.
For the Christian, there are, broadly speaking, two paths that Paul lays out before us in Romans 8:1-4.
Path 1: Living under the law leads to failure and condemnation
God’s Law is His good commands that rule over our lives as the just standard for the judgment of human behavior. Our flesh is that sinful and fallen part of human nature that disobeys and defies God’s law. Condemnation is the judgment of God for our sin against God and His law that leads to punishment. For those who live under God’s law by seeking as something of a perfectionist, that downward path leads only to the dead end of failure and pain. If you are a Christian who struggles with constantly feeling like a condemned failure, it may be because you are on the wrong path and need to turn around and walk a very different path with Jesus who has already walked it before you and now walks it with you.
Path 2: Living under the Spirit leads to Jesus and freedom
Jesus Christ came and lived like Adam without a sinful nature in the “likeness of human flesh”, which means he had a body like ours but a soul that was unlike ours in that it was not fallen. Jesus lived by the power of the Holy Spirit, under the law, perfectly fulfilling its every demand. Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that His perfect obedience and righteousness could be imputed to us. Jesus rose from death, fulfilling the demands of the law for us so that His power and presence could be imparted to us through the Holy Spirit. The result is that we are now free to live for Christ, and live like Christ, as Christ lives in and through us by the Spirit. This is the upward path of the Christian life which leads to freedom and peace.
Do you tend to see your walk with God more as a journey on the first or second path? Why?
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