I'm not a King-James-Only kind of person. This isn't what this post is trying to imply. But, I was reminded of something the other day and something was pointed out about a specific verse that REALLY validated something in my life. Let me explain...
I love all different translations of the Bible. My personal favorite for just reading pleasure is the New Living Translation (NLT). I also really like the Amplified version...man, it's pretty thorough. Others swear by the New American Standard (NASB) and the New International Version (NIV), so I throw those into my mix as well. Some are of the persuasion that the King James Version is the only accurate version (it is the authorized version after all). While I don't go that far (although they have great arguments), when I'm really studying or teaching on a passage, I always look at it in the KJV too. There is reason for that. Several times I have read something in the NLT or even NIV, then read it in the KJV and it seems to be very different. I actually have a side-by-side Bible with NIV and KJV, so it's easy to see. Like I said, over the years I've noticed several verses and passages where things were left out or seemingly changed. Since I know neither Greek or Hebrew, I rely on others to translate for me.
On to the specific verse I was talking about at the beginning. Romans 8:1 in NLT reads:
"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."
In the NIV it reads:
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,"
In the NASB it reads:
"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
That's what I've heard taught for years now...that there is no condemnation if you belong to Christ. Conviction yes, but no condemnation. Basically, there should be a Godly sorrow when you've wronged, but God forgives you and you shouldn't have this heaviness that comes on you and stays...you should confess, be truly sorry and turn from your sin, and move on. I totally agree with that order of things. But there was one particular thing that happened in my life that I just couldn't explain according to that verse and that teaching.
At one point a few years ago, when I was totally running after God with all I had and things were so amazing, I totally messed up bigtime. I won't go into details about what it was, just because it involves other people and that wouldn't be respectful. But, let's just say that it was a huge setback in my holiness. Oh, it was horrible. I felt horrible. I was so sorry, I confessed, I cried out to God, I definitely turned from my sin. But...there was this very, very heavy heaviness that would not leave. I cried and cried. I cried at work, I cried in my car, I cried at home...I just couldn't stop crying...for 3 weeks solid. I am not exaggerating. Finally it lifted. The Message describes condemnation like this (in Rom. 8:1): "to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud." When I have shared about that time with others, I would always say, "I know that there is no condemnation in Christ, but it felt like it. If that wasn't condemnation, I know I definitely never want condemnation." In my heart of hearts, I knew it was condemnation. I had definitely felt the low-lying black cloud over me.
Recently in our Sunday School class, our awesome teacher, Mrs. Donna Cheatwood (she was one of my youth teachers also, back in the day...love her) was quoting Romans 8:1. She read it from her Bible. She read, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." Then she looked up and said that she just hates it when people leave off the last part of this verse...it's a pet peeve of hers. Then she read on, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
What? What did she say? A huge light bulb came on over my head. I'm sure everyone in class saw it. All at once, that past event in my life made sense. It was condemnation and there it was, validated in the Bible itself.
Isn't it true that the toughest times, if you cling to Jesus and grow through them, end up being the most precious and important times to you? Many times people hear the word "condemnation" and they get the picture of some lost soul...surely a Christian is not really a Christian if he/she is feeling condemnation. I tell you, I felt it and it is one of the best tools of my testimony that I have. I'll tell you another thing too...I never ever again fell into that sin for which I felt that condemnation. Condemnation did me good.
Another great lady in that Sunday School class that day (Mrs. Gail Ferguson) read one of the newer translations along with the KJV of Romans 8:1 and pointed out that no wonder people leave that part out...it's not in there on most translations.
"Therefore, [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."
Let us walk after the dictates of the Spirit, for when we don't, when we walk after the dictates of the flesh...yes, condemnation will come. I believe it. I am also thankful for it.
I pray that we all get a good dose of condemnation when we walk after the flesh.