(Romans 8:1-2) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
The phrase, “made free from sin” (Romans 6:22), is the reason that God’s elect are not under “condemnation,” for they are “in Christ.” As one of God’s elect; I say, ‘Praise God’ – for (Romans 8:1) is a word of promise: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus….” Obviously, the key to it all is to be “in Christ.”
As we know, being “in Christ” is explained in three pictures of the role of God in the elect’s salvation (from the elect sinner’s call, to his glorification): First, Eternal Justification: wherein, the elect were chosen “in Christ” before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8b; Eph. 1:4-11; Rom. 8:29-30); Second, Judicial Justification: the time frame is Christ on the Cross in the Atonement of Christ as the elect’s Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior (Eph. 1:7; Rom. 3:24-25; 1 Peter 1:24); Third, and finally, Experiential Justification: that is when the Holy Spirit carries out the regeneration process on the elect of God; from the call of God of the dead sinner in trespasses and sin; quickening, or made alive; to conversion (Acts 2:39; Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:5-6 and etc.).
Therefore, we say with the prophet Jonah, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah (2:9). To be “made free from sin” is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This knowledge comes to the elect sinner through the regeneration of the sinner by God the Spirit.
However, salvation (or our deliverance, our preservation) must be viewed on two planes: (1) Spiritually in the Purpose of God; before the foundation of the earth; this entails our Position in Christ in God’s Eternal Purpose in Christ (which is entirely, and completely, a work of The Grace of God; and nothing to do with the merits of the elect sinner; see Eph. 1:4-11). The gift of eternal life in the believer; the sustaining of eternal life in the believer, and in the believer’s presence with Christ for all eternity is completely based on the Grace of God to the elect in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 8:29-39;1Jn. 5:20. (2) Physically in the Plan of God; even the sanctification of the believer, as manifested by the believer’s fruit bearing; this entails: (a) The Performance of the commands of God after regeneration; (b) The Practice in holiness (both in mind and body) as we run the race that is set before us; and (c) The Patience in the endurance of the same unto the end. Here is the responsibility of the regenerated sinner. The lack of carrying out the command of (Jn. 14:15) finds itself not in the lack luster power of the regenerated elect – for Christ, the Power of God (1 Cor. 1:24) dwells in the believer – but in the lack of a diligent seeking after God; which flows from the lack of growth of the saved man. The child of God is to “study to shew himself approved unto God” (2 Tim. 2:15). (See Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 9:24-27; 2 Cor. 6:1, 14-17; 10:3-5; Phil. 3:7-14; 2 Peter 1:1-8.)
The child of God must not stay on “milk” but must advance to the “meat” of the Word of God. When this is the case, the fruit borne on his branches will be indicative of the growth of the believer. The believer’s Performance, Practice, and Patience have to do with growth (not eternal life); and it is in this area that the regenerated elect is warned by the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 10:12), “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Always keep in mind, the elect’s work does not give, or procure, eternal life; only Christ, Who is Eternal Life Himself, can give Life to the sinner; only God can raise the spiritually dead sinner from the deadness of trespasses and sin (Jn. 6:63; Eph. 2:1). However, the regenerated elect will have works of faith to follow; not for life, or to get life; but, to manifest he possesses eternal life (Jas. 2:14-26).
Therefore, Position (or standing as Justified in Christ) has to do with the Purpose (Rom. 8:29-30); and Performance (or our obedience to God’s commands) has to do with Responsibility (that is what we are commanded to be and do for His Name’s sake as His Witness; on the basis of being a recipient of the Grace of God in regeneration). The Position of Who we are is “in Christ” by Grace; and the Performance is what we have to do in the daily exercising of the power of God in the believer. In the Position, the child of God is not active at all (Prov. 19:21; Eph. 2:8-9). And in the Performance; the child of God is to be active in the command of God to “do” (Jas. 1:22), under the influence of the Holy Spirit (Ep. 1:19; Phil. 2:13; Heb. 11:6; etc.) to accomplish the Will of God and the Word of God. The Performance then is a result of the Position. In other words, the elect sinner is Justified (or declared righteous) by the works of Jesus Christ according to the Eternal Purpose of God, and not on any work of the sinner. This Justification was accomplished in the Mind of God in eternity past, and in the Atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross for the sin debt of the sinner.
In the Position, “in Christ,” we are viewed from God as Justified (or declared righteous) in Christ from Eternity past to Eternity future; but in The Performance, the regenerated sinner is in a growth pattern, in the performance mode, in the proof factor – not to God but to himself and to others. The regenerated sinner finds himself as Paul did in (Phil. 3:7-14). The regenerated sinner is being conformed daily to Christ, and departs daily from the Old Man and his corrupt ways; as is proven by the hundreds of Exhortations to holiness, and to separate from this evil world and its philosophies, by the writers of the Bible; and by the rebukes of the writers of the Bible to the children of God that sin on the way; and by the famous writing of the Apostle John in (1 Jn. 1:8-10; 2:1) on the need of the child of God to confess the daily sins of his flesh. This confession has to do with Fellowship; not Position.
The final straw in the proof of the “less than perfect obedience” of the regenerated elect of God is found in (Heb. 12:5-11). Here the believer learns of the process of “chastisement” which comes upon the believer for his disobedience to God. Therefore, it is concluded that the regenerated child of God does at times sin. So in this light, the believer is Perfect in Position (that is, in Christ). However, in Practice, he is not perfect, and may need chastisement that leads to confession of his sin of the flesh. Confession is all important for the believer’s fellowship with God; but not his Position, which of course was secured in the Atonement of Christ on the Cross.
In the study of 1 Jn. 3, I submit the idea of (1) the sins of the flesh; and (2) the sins of the spirit. In these notes, I propose that the child of God can, and does, sin in the flesh. But the only sins that the child of God (one that has received regeneration) cannot commit in the spirit are twofold: (1) he cannot deny that Jesus is God in the flesh; and (2) he cannot not love the brethren.
I do rejoice that God, in the Eternal Covenant in Jesus Christ, has made me “free from sin” (that is, free from the curse of the law, spiritual death); as Christ secured this Position in His Atonement on the Cross for the sin debt of the elect of God, which is revealed to the elect in regeneration by the Spirit of God.
However, I like the words of Apostle Paul in (Rom. 7:20-23):
“Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members (or in my flesh), warring against the law of my mind (or my spirit), and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
I have concluded in my own experience, I have been “declared righteous” in the Atonement of Christ as my Substitute, my Sacrifice, and my Savior. And this fact was revealed to me in the process of regeneration from quickening to conversion. And that He, as such, eternally secured my oneness in Himself, and my presence with Him for all eternity.
However, up to this point in my Christian journey of sanctification, I no longer find myself without the war between my flesh and my spirit; but rather the opposite. Without question, I am without the bondage of sin; for I am no longer a slave of unrighteousness, but I am a slave of righteousness. And when I do sin, it is my choice to sin; for sin has no power over me, having been raised from the deadness in trespasses and sin. But, the fact remains; at times I have sinned, and may sin again, in my flesh. But, praise God I have never sinned since my regeneration that I was not convicted of my sin; and was ashamed of my sin; and was brought to confess my sin to God and obeyed (1 Jn. 1:9). In every instance of my transgression, as God brought me to confess my sin on the basis of my standing (or my Position) in Christ; He never did not restore fellowship with me, and cause me to grow in the entire process.
Only those who possess the Holy Spirit have the ability to discern truth. Most expositors interpret (1 Jn. 3:9) as, “You will not habitually sin or to practice sinning” (pertaining to the sins of the flesh); which of course is a truth for the regenerated child of God, because he has been given a new nature and a new love. However, I interpret (1 Jn. 3:9) as, “he cannot sin, period” in two areas: (1) he cannot deny that Christ is God in the flesh; and (2) he cannot, not love the brethren – and these are the sins he cannot sin, once he has been born again (these are sins of his spirit).
John wrote his epistle to reveal that: (1) God is Light; (2) God is Love; (3) God is Life. John was revealing to the reader – not that they would never sin in the flesh again (1 Jn. 1:8-10; 2:1-2) – but that those that had been regenerated could not deny that Jesus was God in the flesh and they could not, not love the brethren.
John was fighting the major heresies of:
- Platonic thought: “They thought the spirit was all important. The body was only a prison from which one desired to escape. These people had a hard time believing Jesus was fully human and fully divine, or God.”
- Docetism: (from a Greek word meaning “to seem”) “They held that Jesus was actually a spirit who only appeared to have a body.” But in reality (they said) He cast no shadow and left no footprints; He was God, but not man.
- Gnosticism: (from a Greek word meaning “knowledge”) “They held that all physical matter was evil. The spirit was good; and only the intellectually enlightened could enjoy the benefits of religion. They could not believe that Jesus was human.”
John combated these heresies in 1 John 1:1, that He (Jesus) was eternal, and yet He became flesh, and lived among men and women. He was both divine and human, yet without sin. The incarnation of Christ is pivotal; without it, we have no Sacrifice for sins, no Substitute for us, and no Savior, without Christ being God in the Flesh, yet without sin. Therefore, John was saying you cannot be born from above and be antichrist and not love the brethren; and these are the sins of the spirit that cannot be committed once you have been regenerated.
It is so sad that many believers in Christ, in the 21st Century, do not understand that “in Christ” they are “free from sin,” yes, free from sin’s penalty, free from its power, and free from its punishment for all eternity. It is pathetic that in so many of the pulpits of the Evangelicals today, the lack of the knowledge of the Doctrines of Christ is evidenced by what they preach. Consequently, the lay people are babes in Christ; for all they get from the sermon is milk. Because of the lack of instruction coming out of the pulpit, they think that it is normal, rather than the exception, for the so-called Christian to be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, and to be defeated daily by their flesh because they know not of the Victory they have in Christ. They tend to use the flesh and its pull as a crutch, and to say, ‘Well, I am eternally saved and on my way to heaven; however, I am still in this flesh (which Paul called “the body of this death”).’ And they somehow equate this as a no-win situation; and therefore give over to the desires of the flesh, and never walk by faith (or in the path of Sanctification, even “in Christ”; Gal. 2:20).
Therefore, they think that it is normal to re-dedicate every Sunday; not knowing, because of a lack of instruction of the victory and power they possess in Christ, that this is not necessary if they would only “walk by Faith.” So, many think that this is the norm for the child of God to suffer defeat at the hand of their flesh; when really, it is the abnormal – for the children of God have not been given the spirit of fear; but “of power, and of love and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Wake up, Child of God; you don’t have to become an overcomer – for you are already an Overcomer in the Victory of the Lamb of God (1 Jn. 5:4-5), “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world (not maybe; but this is a fact because you are born of God): and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (Who is “our faith”? Christ is The Faith). (5) Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” Who is it that is a believer that Jesus is the Son of God? The answer: those who have been born of God.
Finally, the solution is simple: Are you born of God? If so, you are “free from sin”; you do not have to sin; and you are not in condemnation.