Paul told the church at Corinth that he did not speak to condemn them (2 Corinthians 7:3) and Jesus said that He did not come to condemn the world either (John 3:17). If Paul didn’t preach condemnation, and Jesus did not show up to give condemnation, why are we so quick to condemn? Could it be that we have very little revelation of our own liberty from condemnation?
Paul states this first verse of Romans 8 in an unequivocal manner: “NO condemnation”. The word ‘no’ is ‘not even a little bit’ in the Greek, meaning that there is no room for condemnation at all, because of Christ Jesus. Once you accept Jesus Christ and His free pardon from sin, there is absolutely no room for you to be condemned. Jesus was condemned for all of our sins at the cross; thus there is none left for you or me!
The last part of the verse is “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”, which appears to place qualifications on the gift of no condemnation. In the original Greek, these words do not appear in this passage, but instead appear at the end of verse 4. Bible scholars call this process of moving one passage to another place as “interpolation”. Why would the translators do this if the Apostle Paul did not write it that way?
The only explanation that I can find is that they simply could not believe that there were no qualifications or conditions upon the gift of no condemnation. Most Christians will tell you that you are under no condemnation as long as you do the right thing, but if you fail then you are condemned in your sin. This is diametrically opposed to the third verse which tells us that Jesus had sin condemned in His flesh (Romans 8:3). Since all sin was condemned in the body of Jesus, it cannot ever be condemned in my body. Hallelujah!
If walking according to the Spirit is the requirement for “no condemnation”, then Jesus broke this rule when He withheld condemnation from the woman caught in the act of adultery. There is no clearer example in the Gospels of a moment when the full weight of the law should have fallen on a law-breaker than when this woman was caught sleeping with a married man. The Pharisees hoped to trap Jesus by forcing Him to decide to either stone her under Moses’ Law or let her go free. Jesus trumped them all with, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). Of course the Law condemned them all, so they dropped their rocks and left. Jesus then released the woman with the blessed promise, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). If ‘no condemnation’ comes only for those who walk in the Spirit, this woman is disqualified. She was living according to her fleshly desires, yet Jesus did not condemn her. It is a gift, and Jesus gives it freely!
As soon as we embrace the gift of no condemnation, the righteousness that the Law tried to bring out in us will come to the surface. Paul said, “That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). Here, the phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”is in the Greek text, but now the meaning becomes clear. Walk according to what the Holy Spirit says about you and you will see the righteousness of God come out in your lifestyle. What does the Spirit say? “Now no condemnation”!