1THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 (Amplified Bible)
When I was in my previous religious church, all I knew was condemnations for not doing all the stuff that need to be done. I hated church because it was the place where the religious pastors will lay more rules and requirements on me. Condemnations came when I could not fulfill them and that happened all the time. Therefore, my religious life was a life of condemnation. It was not very enjoyable to live in condemnation and I regretted being a Christian.
However, the above verse tells us that those who are in Christ Jesus will not be condemned. It explains no condemnation as no adjudging guilty of wrong. This privilege of no condemnation is not conditional upon obeying religious rules but available to all who are in Christ Jesus (means Christians) who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.
Please note that living after the dictates of the Spirit is not the same as obeying religious rules. As Christians, we were stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit the moment we first believed in Jesus.
13In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 1:13 (Amplified Bible)
The Holy Spirit is now in us. This goes to say that his dictates come from inside us. Both His desire and our desires come from the same place. In contrast, religious rules are from outside us and they have to be imposed externally. Religious rules cause condemnations, the Holy Spirit doesn’t. This proves that religious rules are from the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:1 speaks of walk not after the dictates of the flesh. The flesh here refers to carnal desires. The things you want to do for the moment regardless of the consequences.
Have you ever feel like punching someone? Have you ever feel like wanting to get drunk? Did you fantasize on having sexual relationship with people you should not? These are dictates of the flesh. They may make you feel good for the moment but they are destructive in the long run. They can block your prosperity.
The religious answer to them is to force yourself not to do it. Many times when we failed, they will condemn us. So their answer is no answer at all. God’s answer to overcome the dictates of the flesh is to allow ourselves to be lead by the Holy Spirit. As long as we are walking with the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to “try” to resist the dictates of the flesh because our nature will be transformed into His nature.
The desire of the flesh will have no power over us. This means we do not commit adultery not because we are bound by some external rules but because we don’t want to. The desire for adultery is not there in our hearts. Adultery is not fun anymore. The same will go with other sins. This is true freedom.
How can we reach this state? We will have to spend time with God. We have to pray, confess his words and meditate on them. In doing so, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us to his path of freedom. This path leads to freedom and not condemnation.