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 thatthe righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
In the name of Jesus, Our Savior, Amen.
Dr. Sam Boda was one of our former members at Good Shepherd. He told me once about his 50th class reunion from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Since he was in charge of it, he asked all his classmates to send him information about their ministry. One the questions he asked was this, "From which chapter of the Bible did you preach the most sermons?" The number one chapter for all those pastors was Romans eight.
This really is a tremendous chapter of the Bible. In Romans 1-6 Paul explains the situation we are in with sin and the salvation that we have from Jesus Christ. He became the ransom for our sins through His life, death and resurrection. Through Him we are declared righteous apart from anything we do. We are saved by faith. But that doesn't mean we don't struggle against sin. In chapter seven he talks about that terrible struggle and that no matter how hard we try, by ourselves, apart from Christ we can't win. In chapter eight he explains how we battle against sin by faith.
People take different approaches to the problem of sin. Some deny that it exists. Some try to cover it up. Some try to will themselves to moral improvement. Picture the child in school who is caught misbehaving and told to go to the marker board and write, "I will not talk in class" fifty times. Such drills, whether imposed by others or imposed upon ourselves as we tell ourselves over and over that we will not do what we are not supposed to do, only work temporarily.
There is something, however that we can do over and over that will overcome the power of sin in our lives. Our sins were forgiven in our baptism, and the Holy Spirit came into our lives to give us faith. Every Sunday we gather with other Christians, confess our sins, receive forgiveness and pray for God's help. In our daily devotions we repent, believe and look to the renewing help of the Holy Spirit to live by faith. In this scenario we stand at the marker board and write: "I am sorry. I am forgiven. I want to live by faith in Jesus." This routine, done over and over and over in the Christian life is what it means to be "in Christ."
In Christ, there is no condemnation. Our sins are forgiven. And in Christ we live by the Spirit through the means of grace. We will never be able to stop sinning in this earthly life. But in Christ we are free from condemnation, and in Christ we will see the work of the Holy Spirit who will help us to improve in our outward righteousness.
Prayer: Renew Me, O Eternal Light Listen
And let my heart and soul be bright,
Illumined with the light of grace
That issues from Thy holy face.
Destroy in me the lust of sin,
From all impureness make me clean.
Oh, grant me pow’r and strength, my God,
To strive against my flesh and blood!
Create in me a new heart, Lord,
That gladly I obey Thy Word
And naught but what Thou wilt, desire;
With such new life my soul inspire.
Grant that I only Thee may love
And seek those things which are above
Till I behold Thee face to face,
O Light eternal, through Thy grace.