According to Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation for the believer in Christ Jesus” because God himself has met the righteous requirements of the law through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  Paul has already used the noun κατάκριμα (katakrima, an intensification of the more common noun κρίμα) in 5:18, the trespass on one man led to the “condemnation” of all men, but now “in Christ” there is “no condemnation.”  The word has the sense being under a judgment for breaking the Law and is often translated “justice.”  To “do justice” is to treat people fairly with respect to the law, usually the word has a negative connotation.  To “bring someone to justice” means make them face the penalty for breaking the Law.

But for those who are in Christ, there the Law no longer condemns because the “Law of the Spirit of life” sets the believer free from the “Law of sin and death.”  I think Paul is intentionally using language which evokes the coming New Age of the Spirit anticipated by the prophets.  The Old Covenant was broken by God’s people, so in the coming age God will make a New Covenant and enable his people to keep the New Covenant through the Holy Spirit.  Texts like Jeremiah 33:31-33 indicate that the messianic age would be an age of the Holy Spirit.  By combining “no condemnation” and the “Law of the Spirit,” Paul is claiming that the future, messianic age in some ways began with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  The Spirit of God is at work in the ones who are “in Christ” so that we are the beginnings of the eschatological age.  I do not think this exhausts those prophecies, rather, we live in the “already” and look forward to the “not yet” of the consummation of God’s plan (Eph 1:20-22).

In fact, the requirements of the law are met in us (8:4).   This is done through the death of Jesus Christ, who was the perfect God-Man.  His voluntary death on the cross fulfills the requirements of the law.  In the present age, Paul says, we participate in a state of “no condemnation.”  This is a foretaste of what God was planning from the very beginning when condemnation first came upon the human race.  “Paul deliberately recalls the once-for-allness of the eschatological indicative, the opening of the new epoch effected by Christ.” (Dunn, Romans, 1:415.)

How one lives by the Spirit is the subject of the rest of Chapter 8.   There are therefore two “mind-sets” possible, the believer ought to have the mind-set of the Spirit (8:5-8).   The mind of the sinful nature is set on what that sinful nature desires; it cannot submit to God’s law, it is hostile to God, it cannot please God.  The result of this mind set is death.  On the other hand, those that walk by the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires, and by implication they are able to submit to God and they are able to please him.  The result of this mind set is life and peace.

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