Romans chapter 7 ended with the cry from Paul’s heart over his confusion, guilt, shame, compulsions, self-condemnation, and frustration and despair that he expressed in the previous 10 verses of the chapter. He cries out in 7:24, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” But he gives the answer in the following verse. He writes, “Thanks be to God [because he has rescued me] through Jesus Christ our Lord” (7:25). Cottrell, in the College Press NIV Commentary concludes, “While the main concern of this question and its answer is freedom from the power of indwelling sin, we need to be reminded again of the main point already established in (Romans) 3:21–5:21, that the penalty for our sin has been paid in full by Jesus. In the midst of our intense spiritual struggle against sin, in which we are sometimes on the losing end, we need not fear that our forgiveness is in jeopardy. Christ has already secured this for us on the cross.”

Even though in the struggle against sin we seem to be fighting a frustrating losing battle we must never forget that the battle has already been won on our behalf. That’s what Paul picks up with in Chapter 8. He begins by saying “therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The term condemnation is defined as “penalty, punishment and doom.” The negative Greek phrase is most emphatic. One translator says, “not even one.” That would mean there is not even one penalty left to be paid, because Jesus paid it all. There is absolutely no punishment remaining on the books. The debt has been completely satisfied as Jesus said from the cross, “it is finished.” This the Greek word for “paid in full.” There is not even one word of doom left in God’s vocabulary for you and I, who are “in Christ Jesus.” He set us free from the power and punishment of sin. One day we’ll be completely free from its presence as well.

John Newton (The Author of Amazing Grace) once said, “I am not what I ought to be! How imperfect and deficient I am! (Oh, wretched man that I am!) I am not what I wish to be, although I abhor that which is evil and would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be, but soon I shall be out of mortality and with it all sin and imperfection. Though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor yet what I hope to be, I can truly say I am not what I once was: a slave to sin and Satan. I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge that by the grace of God I am what I am!” It’s all “thanks be to God…” He accomplished for me, what I could never accomplish for myself through my own efforts. Newton quotes from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15 and verse 10. “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” That’s the truth for each and every one of us. It is always by the grace of God.