There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. – Romans 8:1-11
What’s your go-to comeback. “Am not!” How about, “Are too!”
A friend of mine had a knack for taking a made-in-jest put down and turning it into a self-deprecating even-worse criticism. I would say, “You’re really not with it today,” (in jest, mind you). He would reply, “Only today? I don’t think I’ve been with it for years!” I’d say, “Well, some people just don’t know how to behave.” He’d reply, “You should see me when I’m really trying to misbehave.” And so it would go.
One time, we were together at a conference and we made a comment – snarky, but in good-natured humor – something like, “Well, you just don’t know about those foreigners.” He is an American citizen from Brazil, by the way. A colleague looked at us with wide eyes. He didn’t realize we were poking him with good-natured barbs. He thought we were serious.
Some people are serious about such judgments. Whether it has to do with foreigners, or people with poor social skills, or any way in which people judge or stereotype others, such judgements are not good. In fact that behavior dismisses the profound truth of Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This applies to you and me and your neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and even your enemies.
One powerful episode in the book, The Shack, conveyed how much hubris is needed, in reality, to judge someone else. It has Mack required to sit in judgment on God and the whole world. Mack is overcome with weakness and is unable to do this. Judging others is more difficult to do if we actually believe we have eternal power over them.
This is a message for each of us. We may judge others’ actions. We may conclude that some things are truly right or wrong. But we may never judge another’s motives. Nor is our judgment final. For those who are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation. This is good news for us all. We need to apply that good news to ourselves and even our enemies. Those above and below us. It’s a 360 degree kind of thing.