Before he became a supervisor, our son Kraig worked directly with various forms of nuclear waste. He was employed at the Hanford Nuclear site in Washington State and then at the Oakridge facility in Tennessee. Between those jobs, he was at the Savanna River Facility in South Carolina, where much of this dangerous waste is being stored. In his early days with the company, he had to wear the extremely heavy, specially designed suits used to protect his body from the dangerous radiation of uncontained plutonium and uranium. But because he was enwrapped in that suit he was in no immediate danger.

Those suits might be used to illustrate Paul’s lesson for us in this scripture. Those people who are “in Christ” (which I will explain in a minute) are insulated from condemnation; something far more deadly than plutonium radiation. It never happed to Kraig as far as I know, but people sometimes fail to use their HAZMAT suits properly, and they get hurt. The protection, which our scripture describes, is guaranteed and maintained by the manufacturer, the Lord Jesus Christ, not by the sinner who wears it. It works perfectly when properly worn. “There is therefore now NO condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

This is a wonderful and glorious promise to the people of God; a promise which I pray is yours by faith. Let’s think about that promise this morning, recognizing that there is NO condemnation NOW in Christ. We can also KNOW for sure there is now no condemnation, and we should also NOTICE the cause of it all.

First, let’s consider Paul’s statement: “there is no condemnation.”

The word “condemnation” suggests that someone has made an accusation, the accused has gone to trial, and having been judged and found guilty, he is to be punished. The Lord Jesus used a form of this word in Mark 10 to warn His disciples about what was upcoming. “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles” for crucifixion. And four chapters later, we hear the words of those chief priests, “Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.” By the way, sometimes the word is translated “to damn someone” – it speaks of “damnation.”

But Paul is negating that condemnation, saying “there is NOW NO condemnation.” The word “now” tells us that something has changed. “Now there is no condemnation,” but formerly there was.

Paul is not saying the people of this verse were once condemned by a group of priests, Pharisees or judges. The context reminds us that it is the holy God, who had judged and condemned these people. And the grounds of that condemnation was sin; the transgression of the will of God. Jehovah has revealed and even codified His holiness and commands. When we step beyond those laws or when we stamp our foot down on His will, we have sinned. And sin against God is worthy of eternal and divine damnation.

I make no apology for constantly telling you that the Bible says we are born into this world as sinful creatures. When we arrive, our hearts are more sinful and wicked than our bodies are covered with silky skin. And that is the reason we all begin, at an early age, to show our selfishness and our sinfulness. We are unprotected from the wrath of God without the HAZMAT suit of Christ, until such time as we repent and trust the Lord. As John 3 tells us, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son (trusts Christ as Lord and Saviour), hath everlasting life; and they that believve not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Without Christ we are already condemned – doomed to eternal damnation and judgment.

But for those who are in Christ Jesus there is no threat of condemnation – zero – none whatsoever. I know that you can look at me and say, “I see things worthy of condemnation in that man.” And to tell you the truth, I see a lot more of that sort of thing in me than you do. But this scripture doesn’t say that there is nothing condemnable in me or any other Christian. There is still much in the Christian’s life which is worthy of judgment. But what the verse says is that the just judgment against these people has been removed. Condemnation will not be carried out upon those who are in Christ Jesus.

Please, please, you who make no profession of being Christ’s people… Please don’t look at those who do make that profession, and in seeing their periodic sins, don’t condemn God’s salvation. The problem isn’t with the Lord, or His grace, or His forgiveness. The problem is that those Christians are nothing more than sinners saved by divine grace. There will remain things which could be, and perhaps should be, condemned in the Christian, and yet…. “There is … no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…”

That is true because they are now IN Christ Jesus.

What strange language! Here is some of that confusing Christian jargon which disturbs people who are unfamiliar with it. It upsets some people, and it completely derails others, because it is foreign to their logic. But like a thousand other subjects, religious and secular, perhaps we just need to consider and define it.

The words, “to be in Christ,” are pretty common to the Bible. This is not the only verse where we find it. A good place to start our investigation of the idea is I Corinthians 15. In that chapter we find another equally troublesome concept: resurrection from the dead – resurrection both of Christ and of people like us. Paul says in verse 19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfuits of them that slept.” Christ became the leader, the first, of those to return from the sleep we call “death.” “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so IN Christ shall all be made alive.”

Among other things, Christians are “in Christ,” in the same way they were once “in Adam.” And how was that? Adam was our first father, and through him we inherited physical life. We are “in Adam” in that relationship – fatherhood and headship – a relationship polluted by sin and death. And Christians are “in Christ” in a similar way, but with much more. Now we have a new relationship which includes eternal life and a special resurrection to enjoy that life. I Corinthians 1:30 says, “Of (God) are ye IN Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be IN Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed way; behold all things are become new.” And one of the new things is that “There is therefore now no condemnation.”

Implied within the word “now,” especially in the context, is the idea of permanency. The condemnation which Christians deserve as naturally born sinners, is gone because they are “in Christ.” Even though they continue to deserve that condemnation, it can’t penetrate the HAZMAT suit of the Lord. Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” No radiation can reach them. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” – unending spiritual life in the presence of the eternal God. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Okay, but how can someone who is in Adam become a person who is in Christ? Paul says: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Some might think, “Ah, I see. If I walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit I will put myself in Christ.” No, my friend, that is not what Paul is saying. I will come back to the end of this verse in a minute, but at this point let’s just say, “This business about walking is a description of those who are in Christ, NOT how they entered.”

Earlier, I quoted one of the world’s most favorite scriptures is John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” – unending spiritual life in the presence of the eternal God. I also quoted Romans 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” That gift should fill us with thanksgiving. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable GIFT.” “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the GIFT of God.” How does a dying sinner in Adam enter the eternal life which is in Christ? By the gift of God’s grace.

As sinners by nature, we are not worthy of any of the blessings which are in Christ. And there are no works, or accumulation of great accomplishments, which will ever make us worthy. What is required of us to enter the Lord can be summed up with the word “nothing.” However, we do see in God’s Word where those who enter Christ all, repent, trust and begin to love the Lord Jesus for His gracious gift. The people whom the Lord protects from condemnation express their new circumstances with humble acknowledgment of their sinfulness and faith in what Christ did through his death on the cross. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” from the radiation of God’s judgment for sin.

But how can we KNOW that someone is in Christ?

We can know, because they no longer “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” What do those two principles mean: “after the flesh,” and “after the Spirit?” Simply put, there is a new government in their lives; there is a new King in their souls. Genuine Christians no longer let their flesh and their fleshly minds dictate how they live.

Why do people smoke cigarettes? It is not because of the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Nicotine addiction is something of the flesh. But I have known new believers who immediately threw away their cigarettes never to smoke again, even though their bodies craved the nicotine. I’m sure the same can be said in cases of alcohol and other drugs. I’m not saying that this is always true, but in Christ there is victory over the dictates of the flesh. I have known people who were living in fornication, who upon their salvation began to live chaste lives, despite the yearnings of the flesh. Verse 13, here in Romans 8 says, “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (or kill) the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (the children) of God.”

What sort of things will the Spirit of God lead the new believer – the now believer – to do? One of the first things will be direction toward the water of baptism as a testimony of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and their own resurrection to a new eternal life. Baptism is usually quite contradictory to the flesh – the proud flesh. But it is so inextricably linked to salvation that several scriptures make sound almost as if it was the method God’s uses to save souls. For example, the crowd of Jews on the Day of Pentecost said, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” Immersion does not wash away sin, but it does illustrate that spiritual washing, and it should be done in the light of the actual remission – the removal – of punishment for sin. Walking in the Holy Spirit will mean seeking His direction in where to go. And the Spirit will lead the new believer toward a church where he can learn God’s Word and God’s will. That person will find that the preaching, which he once hated, he now finds that he loves. And the Christian people whom he once hated or feared, he now finds to be the best possible friends – they are a part of a new family.

What is it to walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit? Paul, in writing to his young friend Titus, put it his way – “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

To no longer walk according to the flesh means abstinence from all forms of ungodliness; abstemiousness. For example, lying and petty theft are contrary to the nature of the truthful and holy God, therefore they are ungodly and should not be found in the life of the Christian. Blasphemy, taking the Lord’s name in vain, is ungodly (anti-God), and the Holy Spirit teaches us to deny this part of our former lifestyle. Jealousy, greed and pride are products of the flesh, not of God. Ephesians 5 says, “Fornication, and all uncleaness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints,” (people delivered from condemnation), “neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient…” Some of these things will have to be stubbornly resisted for the rest of our lives, because they have been so much a part of our flesh, and we are still live in that flesh. But those who have been delivered from condemnation live without these sins because they want to live after the Spirit of God. Those who walk after the Spirit, “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” and has delivered us from condemnation.

Again, compliance in these things and a hundred others do not put us into Christ. They do not save our souls or deliver us from future condemnation. Rather, they are characteristics of those who have been saved from damnation