Words and Meanings - Growing In Grace (23) 


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He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 
John 3:18

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in union with the Messiah Jesus.
Romans 8:1

Text and Context

Every word in scripture must be taken in context, to prevent error. Failing to do this has resulted in much misunderstanding of God and His Word. Examples of such ‘words’ could be carnal; flesh; spiritual; salvation; repent; confess; world, condemnation. Some ‘spiritualise’ every word to the detriment of Scripture. Others take ‘metaphors of comparison’ literally, which distorts the meaning. Still others spiritualize passages that should be interpreted literally and some impose their own definition on a word, relating it to their own unbiblical perception or reading a meaning into the text, based on their own built-in biases. Too often this misses an important truth about God or an important truth from God, resulting in a partial understanding of God’s Word, and missing much that God seeks to teach us through His Word.

Dispensational Understanding

Some mix-up passages that are addressed to specific groups of people, in different dispensations, which inevitably causes confusion and can often cause the unchangeable character of God to become distorted. Others fail to understand that the unchanging God deals differently with Israel and Christians. Instructions given to Israel are certainly for our learning but not always for our application. David for instance, prayed that the Holy Spirit would not be taken from him. This is not a prayer for today, for every believer has been given the permanently indwelling Spirit, whereas before the cross, the Spirit only ‘came upon’ certain chosen people and could be withdrawn. And so to a greater of lesser degree the truth of God’s Word is distorted, and this to our detriment. In one way or another we miss the point of all that God desires to teach us.

No Condemnation

One of the most common problems is to read a meaning into a particular word in Scripture, which distorts the truth contained within. But there is no reason why any such distortions or misunderstanding should ensue, for every single problem listed above is eliminated by Scripture itself, when read in context and rightly divided. Here is one example: In John chapter 3 we are told by Christ that there is NO condemnation in salvation: for we read, God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on Him (Jesus) is NOT condemned. This is clearly a passage on initial salvation – a passage connected with being born-again. Again in Romans chapter 8 we read about condemnation, and this time Paul is addressing believers: therefore there is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus… and some translations add: who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Christ’s statement here seems to have suddenly imposed a condition that was not seen in John

No Contradiction

In John we read; whoever believes in Him is not condemned, while in Romans it appears that a condition on  ‘no condemnation’ appears to have been added. We read that: there is no condemnation for those .. that walk after the Spirit. It seems that there is only no condemnation only for those who do not walk after the flesh. This could be construed as a contradiction, unless taken in context. In John the condemnation is connected to saving faith. No one who believes in Christ is condemned, for their sins have been eternally forgiven. But the passage in Romans is addressed to believers, and is referring to sanctifying faith and living the Christian life.

Contextual Considerations

You see Christians have a choice. They can walk after the spirit or after the flesh. They can live the grace-promise-faith way or they can live the works-merit-law way. And so here we start to see the importance of contextual considerations. The context in Romans is not one of initial salvation. The context in Romans is the ongoing, sanctifying salvation of believers, where God deals with us as His children. One translation of this verse says: there is now no condemnation for those who are in UNION with the Christ. Oh, one can never be broken though not walking after the Spirit will affect our fellowship and communion.

Serious Consequences

No believer is ever condemned, for they receive unconditional, eternal security. But that same believer can be chastened or even punished (condemned), in their sanctification walk, which will result in loss of rewards for disobedience, but NEVER is a believer under the condemnation or wrath of God, that is spoken of in John. This condemnation separates a sinner from God forever. How important that Scripture is seen in its correct context, and how important that we seek to live our Christian life God’s way and not man’s way. Serious consequences can stalk a believer throughout his life, if Scripture is not seen in its correct context.

Right Choices

Remember, there are two paths a born-again believer can follow in their Christian walk: either the grace-promise-faith way or the works-merit-law way;  either by grace or works of the law; either by promise or the works of the flesh; either by faith or by merit; either by living a spiritual life or living a carnal life; either by walking in the spirit or walking in the flesh; either by walking in newness of life in Christ or by walking by means of  the old sin nature in Adam. It is one or the other. Let us seek to please our heavenly Father, by walking the grace-promise-faith way.

Bible verses: John 3:18 Romans 8:1
Topics: Grace

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