Rom_8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
My hearers, we are each of us, by nature, under the condemnation of God. We are not only subject to condemnation, but we are condemned already; and, on account of sin, there is judgment recorded in God’s book against every one of us, considered in our fallen state. But if we “are in Christ Jesus,” if we are made partakers of Jesus, if we have hidden ourselves in the cleft of the rock, Christ, and if our trust is solely in him, oh, precious thought, “there is therefore now no condemnation” for us. It is blotted out. The old judgment that was recorded against us is now erased; and in God’s book of remembrance there is not to be found a single condemnatory syllable, nor one word of anger written against any believer in Christ Jesus. Glorious freedom from condemnation! How may I know whether I have been thus set free? This is the question that should enter into each of our hearts. The answer is: “Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” My hearers, after which of these are you and I walking? Are we following the flesh? Are we seeking to please ourselves, to indulge our bodies, to gratify our lusts, to satisfy our own inclinations? If so, we are not in Christ Jesus; for those who are in Christ Jesus “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” and every one of you who is fleshly and carnal is not in Christ, but is still under condemnation.
Rom_8:2-3. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
He did accomplish it. The law could not condemn sin so truly and so thoroughly as God did when he condemned sin in the person of Christ. O believer, let not thy sins grieve thee,-however great or however tremendous they may have been; weep over them, but do not be distressed about them, for they have been condemned in Christ Jesus. They may have been enormous, but if thou art in him, Christ was punished for thee, and God’s justice asks not for a second punishment for one offence. Christ offered once a complete atonement for all believers, and if I am a believer in him, there is no possible fear of my ever being condemned. There cannot be; for Christ was condemned for me, my sins were laid upon his head; and in the awful moment when he sustained the stroke of his Father’s vengeance, those sins ceased to be; and “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
Rom_8:4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Mark, again, how Paul brings us to this as the great evidence of our being in Christ Jesus,-the not walking after the flesh. Now, every man, as he is born into the world, left to himself, is sure to “walk after the flesh.” It is only the man who has the Spirit of God put into his soul, who has the heavenly gift from on high, who will “walk after the Spirit.” It is not talking after the flesh, but it is walking after it, that condemns us, and it is not talking after the Spirit that will save us, it is walking after the Spirit that is the evidence of salvation; not talking, but walking. How many of you are there who are talkatives, who can talk religion, and give us as much as we like of it, but whose life and conversation are not such as become godliness! “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” If ye sow to the flesh, ye “shall of the flesh reap corruption,” but if ye sow to the Spirit, ye “shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
Rom_8:5-7. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:
That mind with which we are all born is enmity against God, and however much refined or polished a man may be, however amiable or polite, however he may shine amongst his fellow-creatures, if he has not had a new heart and a right spirit, he is at “enmity against God,” and he cannot enter heaven until there has been a divine change wrought in him. Some of you suppose because you have never been guilty of any vice, because you have not indulged in any great transgression, that therefore you do not require the work of regeneration in your hearts. You will be mightily mistaken if you continue under that delusion until the last great day. “For to be carnally minded,” even though that carnal mind is in a body that is dressed in silks and satins, “To be carnally minded is death,” even though it be whitewashed till it looks like a spiritual one. “To be carnally minded,” even though you sow the carnal mind with a few good garden seeds of the flowers of morality, will still be nothing but damnation to you at the last. “To be carnally minded is death;” only, “to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:”
Rom_8:7. For it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The opponents of the free-grace gospel, which it is our delight to preach, assert that men can be saved, if they will, and that men most certainly can repent, and can believe, and can come to God of their own free will, and that it is not through any defect in any powers that they have if they are not saved. Now, we are not over prone to controvert that point; but, at the same time, we do not understand the meaning of this verse if what they say is correct. It says here, “The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Some say that men could repent if it were their inclination. Exactly so; but that is what we assert,-that it never will be and never can be their inclination, except they are constrained to do so by the grace of God. Rowland Hill uses a very singular and odd metaphor in his “Village Dialogues.” Two parties are speaking together on this subject, and one of them, pointing to the cat sitting on the hearth says, “Do you see that cat? She sits there, and licks her paws, and washes herself clean.” “I see that,” said the other. “Well,” said the first speaker, “did you ever hear of one of the hogs taken out of the sty that did so?” “No,” said he. “But he could if he liked,” said the other. Ah, verily, he could if he liked; but it is not according to his nature, and you never saw such a thing done, and until you have changed the swine’s nature, he cannot perform such a good action; and God’s Word says the same of man. We do not care about fifty thousand aphorisms, or syllogisms, or anything else; God’s Word against man’s any day. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” Men cannot come to Jesus, unless the Father draws them to him. We assert that, from first to last, the work of salvation is all of grace; and we are not afraid of any licentious tendency of that doctrine, or anything of the kind. God’s Word, in all its simplicity, must be preached, and we leave him to take care of his own truth. Blessed be God, this humbling truth is of far more use than the other doctrine, which puffs men up with pride, telling them that they can perform what most assuredly they cannot do. “It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Rom_8:8. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
No man “in the flesh” can please God. Oh, what a sword this is,-a sharp two-edged sword against many of you, my friends! Some of you who regularly attend this house of prayer, and others of you who stray in here in the evening, you “are in the flesh,” and you “cannot please God.” Perhaps you have been attempting to do it. You have said, “I will attend the house of prayer regularly.” You cannot please God by doing that, so long as you are “in the flesh.” You may be as moral as you please, and we beseech you so to be; but unless you have the Spirit of God unless you are really changed in heart, and made new creatures in Christ Jesus, all that you can do, as long as you are “in the flesh, cannot please God.” Virtues, in unregenerate men, are nothing but whitewashed sins. The best performance of an unchanged character is worthless in God’s sight. It lacks the stamp of grace upon it; and that which has not the stamp of grace is false coin. Be it ever so beautiful in model and finish it is not what it should be. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot praise God.”
Rom_8:9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any may have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
O beloved, we have need each of us to put ourselves in this scale! Come, preacher, be not too sure of thine own salvation. Come, church-member, do not be too certain of thine own regeneration. Come, Christian, put thyself in this scale: “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” If he has not the Holy Ghost really dwelling in him, guiding him, directing him, teaching him, comforting him, supporting him, he is none of Christ’s. And if we do not exhibit the Spirit of Christ in our character,-if we have not gentleness, meekness, purity, holiness, benevolence, we are none of Christ’s. Ah, this will take some of your flimsy Christians to pieces. Half of your professors, we fear, will at the last be found not to have had “the Spirit of Christ.” It is one thing to profess religion, beloved, it is quite another thing to possess vital godliness. We may sit down at the communion table, but oh! if we never had the Spirit of Christ, we “are none of his.” We may plead our own goodness before the throne of God at the last; but Jesus Christ will say, “You have not my Spirit; you are none of mine;” and then, however much we may have striven to serve God, unless we have the Spirit of Christ, there shall be nothing for us but the fearful curse, “Depart! depart! depart!” “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Let us ask him for his Spirit; let us plead with him for his grace; and though some of you have never had it, yet if you now ask for it, our God is a gracious God, full of mercy, and exceedingly pitiful; whosoever calleth upon his name shall be saved; and though the chief of sinners, if you sincerely ask for pardon and for grace, you shall receive it at his hand. The Lord help you so to pray, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.
This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 66.; and Rom_8:1-9.