Gospel News · September - December 2017

Paul’s Letter to the Romans | Chapter 8 Verse 1
| Bro Roy Soffe (Portsmouth, UK)
erses taken out of context can cause
considerable discussion and to try to
understand the verse in isolation can open up
pathways to mis-interpretation. Verse one of
Romans chapter eight is such a verse. Bro
John Carter acknowledges this in his book
‘The Letter to the Romans’: “In coming to this
chapter, we come to a variety of difficulties.
‘There is therefore no condemnation to them
which are in Christ, who walk not after the
flesh, but after the Spirit.’”
Do we understand, then, that those in Christ
are no longer condemned? Those in Christ are
those who have been baptized into his saving
Name. So have these people been relieved of
the condemnation given to Adam because of
his sin and are free from the sentence of
death which was imposed on Adam which we
have all inherited? Such thoughts should set
alarm bells ringing in the minds of Bible
students who claim to have the Truth. Why?
Because those who desire to be “IN CHRIST”
do so to separate themselves from the sinful
nature of Adam and become related to Jesus
in baptism and the hope that is extended to
us by such action.
What is that hope? It is a place in the Kingdom
of God and to live there in the strength of
immortality. But if the reason for being in
Christ is to have this hope, then we cannot
have immortality now, otherwise we could not
hope for it. “For the Son of man shall come in
the glory of his Father with his angels, and
then shall he reward every man according to
his works” (Matthew 16:27). “And, behold, I
come quickly and my reward is with me, to
give to every man according as his works shall
be” (Revelation 22:12). Immediately we see
how difficulties can arise when a verse is
taken out of context.
Looking again at the verse, Romans 8:1, the
word “therefore” suggests that Paul is contin-
uing his thoughts from chapter 7. What has he
been saying there? He is dealing with the law
of sin and death. We are all mortal sinful crea-
tures, descendants from Adam, inheriting the
sentence of death. Adam was given the choice
of obeying God, but he was disobedient and
he received the sentence: “As in Adam all
die”. Bro John Carter writes on page 92 of his
book: “That is the truth of the matter.
Assured prospect of eternal life, not a posses-
sion through being in Christ”. An assured
prospect! We apply for a job, but it is up to us
if we get it. If we can present ourselves in the
right way, it is an Assured Prospect, but it may
not materialize. So it is with baptism into
Jesus. The fact is that he is our mediator: we
can receive forgiveness of our sins if they are
confessed through Jesus. The fact that we are
baptized into Jesus gives us an assured
prospect of eternal life if we remain faithful
and do our best. Being in Christ, with the
result of our sins being forgiven, there is
acquittal. Man is reckoned not guilty. There is
no condemnation. Bro Carter says “We create
difficulties when we try to read into the
words of scripture the particular meaning
which the same words may have acquired
through religious controversy.”
So what does Paul mean when he says there is
now for us in Christ no condemnation? There
is a present freedom, certainly, but not from
the death inherited from Adam, which will
certainly send us to the grave. The freedom
that we have is freedom from our sins as
obstacles to a future life. One commentary
puts it like this: “We believe that in baptism
there is a transition from a state of alienation
in Adam to a citizenship in Christ and through
it we shall ultimately be free from Adam’s
sin, mortality. We are not personally respon-
sible for Adam’s sin, but we are all under the
result of that sin and are baptized to remove
the condemnation which came thereby and to
place us in Christ, reconciled to God.”
The apostle Paul in Romans chapter seven
struggles with the fact that while he makes
every effort to do that which is right, he still
does those things that are wrong, “For the
good that I would I do not; but the evil which
I would not, that I do” (verse 19). This is
because of mortality. Paul is fighting the law