8. The First-fruits of the Spirit

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,  who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).

The text from Romans 8 can only apply to true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are they that truly live according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. They are not under any condemnation because they have been saved through grace. They have the Holy Spirit rather than the spirit of this present age (world) … “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). This text has been abused by many, but we must determine its true meaning.

They that are in Christ Jesus
Those that are “in” Christ do not try to maintain their own righteousness, instead they have the righteousness of God … “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). They are assured that they have “redemption through His blood” (Ephesians 1:7) and are living in Him. This means that true believers do not walk after the dictates of the flesh or the world because they are persuaded to abide in Christ. Those who do abide in Him “sinneth not” (1 John 5:18). Therefore it is only by obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit that the Christian “shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Those that are “in” Christ have “crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24) and abstain from all known sin. By doing so they go on from victory to victory in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). They now walk after the Spirit in their hearts and lives, being led by Him into every holy desire until holiness consumes the soul. Such holiness is evident in the way they speak, for their speech is “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6), and “corrupt communication” proceed from their lips (Ephesians 4:29).

Those that are “in” Christ do everything for the glory of God, and because the Holy Spirit is in them they possess the evidence (fruit) of such an indwelling … “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:2-23).

No condemnation
The true believer has all of his past sin washed away in the blood of Jesus Christ. Because of this God will never hold the believer guilty for them. It is as though such sins had never been committed. The Christian knows Christ as “the propitiation” for his sins (1 John 4:10). Nor does the believer fear God’s wrath, since he knows that Christ paid the price for his salvation. By faith he can declare an “answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21). Sometimes believers do lose sight of God’s mercy, and allow condemnation to darken their understanding. At such times it is vital to get a fresh vision of what Christ accomplished on the cross. It is the light of the finished work on Calvary which dispels spiritual darkness.

The true believer is not under condemnation for “inward sin”, by this I mean the nature of the flesh. Rather than allowing the sin nature to dominate them, they are guided by the Holy Spirit to victory over the flesh. Such believers are very conscious of the fact that the “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), yet flee to Christ instead of continuing in sin or temptation.

The true Christian is not condemned for sins of infirmity, that is, as long as they are repented of as soon as the realisation of their failure dawns on them. Sins of infirmity include those unintended and thoughtless words that hurt another person. Our thoughtless actions often offend those around us.

God sees every plan and scheme of the devil designed to affect the fall of true believers. This is the reason why He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us through life and to bring us safely to Heaven. We must understand that God loves each and every one of His children, and has provided all means to keep them from condemnation.

There is no need for any believer to be fearful and of little faith. Our sins are forgiven in Christ, and none can “lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect” because “it is God that justifieth” (Romans 8:33). The sins you have committed since becoming a believer are dealt with through repentance. We need to remind ourselves that our “Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). It is needful to by “the faith of the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20), by doing so we shall disentangle ourselves from the power of sin … “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).

God has the power to “heal your backslidings” (Jeremiah 3:22). We still have an “Advocate” (1 John 2:1) who “maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34), “For he is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23). It is in our human nature to fall, but God has the might to uphold us by His Spirit … “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:12). 

We must simply accept this by faith. We are not under condemnation if we walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh. If we live according to the Spirit one day we will be “perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4). 

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Preached by John Wesley 25 June 1745