“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
Condemnation or conviction? So many times I hear this verse used as an excuse to ignore conviction. So what’s the difference? Let’s look at the entirety of the verse. It says that there is no condemnation, but that lack of condemnation comes with conditions. The first being that you are in Christ, most take this to mean that you believe in Jesus as the son of God, and simply stop there. Therefore, they conclude that as long as you believe in Jesus then you are not condemned and any conviction that comes their way gets excused as condemnation. However, simply believing won’t save you from either conviction, condemnation, or hell’s fire.
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” – James 2:19-20
Yes belief in Jesus Christ is one condition to avoid being condemned but it’s not the only condition. The verse continues to include the second requirement, that being that you must also “walk after the spirit and not after the flesh.” In other words, you can not be walking in sin or self will, but following the leading of the Holy Spirit of God who will never lead you to sin, for there is no sin found in Him.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16
So this passage does not at all imply that just because we believe in Jesus that we will never feel conviction, or even face the threat of condemnation. It simply says that if we have made Jesus Lord of our life and our will, and are walking in the leading of His Spirit, then we will not be led to do anything that will cause us to be condemned or convicted. However, the moment we let ourselves be led of (or act in) the flesh (which drives us to sin and self will) we loose that promise because we have broken the conditions. This is further explained as the passage continues.
“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: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” – Romans 8:5-8
That word “enmity” means “to be the enemy of“. Therefore, those who choose to ignore conviction (which is the Holy Spirit asking them to repent and submit to His leading and will) and walk in the flesh are condemned already, for they have chosen to be unfaithful to a faithful God, marry themselves to sin, and thus, have made themselves an enemy of God.
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” – James 4:4
So yes, once we are saved and become the bride of Christ we or no longer condemned because of past sins. However, even though no man, devil, or angel can take us from our mighty bridegroom, we can choose to leave at anytime. Or worse yet, cheat on God while we cling to His arm, claiming to be His while we flirt with sin and the world. So never, allow conviction for current sins, or even a pulling in your spirit trying to warn you of the danger of a situation or coming temptation, to be excused as condemnation. They are the loving pleas of a faithful God to His bride, asking you to abandon your affair with sin, and follow the leading of His Spirit out of the condemnation that you have followed the flesh into, before it’s too late.
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” – Revelation 2:4-5
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” – 2 Peter 2:20-22