The “therefore” in this sentence implies that we know what came before it. Paul, in the previous chapter, has been warning the Romans about trying to achieve fulfillment through the wrong means. He is now turning our attention to the right means in this chapter. Our fulfillment comes through one means only, that is, through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
What was our condemnation? As long as we were held under the terrible and powerful forces of sin and death, our fulfillment in holiness was impossible. As long as we remained “in the flesh,” that is, in our old ways of self-centered rebellion and hostility toward God we frustrated the divine purposes expressed in the law. All that is changed because of Jesus Christ. It is true that Christians still remain in the flesh, but it is now foreign to our “new being” in Christ. If we have accepted Jesus personally in our lives, if we are truly “in Christ,” we have taken on a new, unselfish self, that is governed now by the Holy Spirit, rather than by our old rebellious will. It is through the Holy Spirit that we are able to live according to the will of God, no longer subject to the law.
That we remain in the flesh is something for us to contemplate each day. It is in the humility of our “new being” in the Spirit that we recognize our need for God, and our desire to live toward that fulfillment, that holiness, that can only come from the grace of God, which is given to us through his Holy Spirit. We understand that our old self was focused on the desires of the flesh, that is, the physical desires of the body and those desires that are the products of pride and greed. Because we have taken on Christ in our new being, we are slowly growing in our ability to turn away from those former things and to walk more and more each day in the ways of Christ. The more we do this, the more at peace we become, even though we remain in the flesh. We become stronger in our virtuous habits, and less vulnerable to the old vices. Why? Because, in our new humility, the Holy Spirit is filling us with more and more of the divine graces we need to become fulfilled, that is, holy and righteous in the sight of God.
The fact is that the Christian life is a constant challenge to put to death the things of the flesh through a growing and deepening commitment to live our lives in the Spirit. But the struggle is not in vain, nor is it done alone. We have the Holy Spirit to guide, to protect, to strengthen, and to defend us. It is in forming the habits of prayer, reading the Bible, and attending church services that we gain the knowledge of what the life of Christ is and how to live it more fully. We have the counsel, the prayers, and the support of our fellow believers to encourage us. In the end, we know that Christ has conquered sin and death. If we are in Christ, we are no longer condemned by the law. Rather we are living the Law and, in doing so, we are becoming more and more fulfilled, more and more happy.
Lord, help us to enter into the struggle to live in Christ’s ways with humble, willing confidence. Fill our hearts minds and souls with the graces we need to be true champions in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen!
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