Interestingly in the Greek Interlinear text of this passage, the phrase ‘from his great variety of spiritual gifts’ does not appear. This is clearly an addition by the translators to further inform on the meaning of the passage.
The more straight forward Interlinear ‘(as) each has received a gift’ is much more inclusive than the addition of spiritual gifts.
You can read of specific spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 13, and no doubt your ‘gift’ may be part or inclusive of these.
Yet there is a difference.
Your gift maybe of conversation or hospitality, music or poetry, confidence or encouragement, teaching or listening, art or craft.
God’s Spirit will be abundantly clear in all of these, no doubt, and they are your gifts to use in service of others, reflecting God’s ‘manifold grace’.
The word gift is charisma occurs 8 times in the N.T. and is always translated as gift, ‘free from God’ and only once in Romans 8:1 as ‘spiritual gift’.
You all have at least one gift from God, which brings something positive to others.
In this verse the Apostle Paul uses the Greek work katakrima for the word condemnation.
He tells us there is no condemnation – no penalty, no punishment or penal servitude following from a condemning.
There are only two other usages of katakrima besides this one in the New Testament and both occur in Romans 5:16 and 5:18. Both refer to the penalty of Adam’s sin and how, through Christ, the penalty for that sin has been paid for good.
In some ways this is an easy concept to understand but much more difficult to take on board.
It is as if a stranger had just walked up to you and offered you a £1,000,000. You would be looking around to try and work out what was going on. Really? The money must be fake. There must be a catch.
Paul reassures us, there is no ‘penalty’ for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. Those who are part of the body of Christ. Those of us who find out belief and peace in God through His son.
I love the way The Message Version puts this part of the verse:
‘Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. ‘
The Apostle Paul is making an important distinction here to the followers of Christ in Rome.
We have mentioned previously that these believers were a mixture of Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.
The Jews recognised themselves as God’s chosen people.
The Gentiles were everyone else who weren’t God’s people.
Paul corrects this attitude.
He tells all of the believers in Rome that they are the children of God.
To the Jewish community, their relationship with God was symbolised – even proven – by their adherence to the Torah and the Law, along with their various celebrations and circumcision.
Paul now explains that through Jesus’ ministry and atonement for the world’s sins, now everyone can be a child of the most high God, and the proof is being led by the Spirit – the returning spiritual connection between God and Mankind which was cut off by the sin of Adam and Eve.
Through this Spirit, God walks once more with us, just as he did in the Garden of Eden.
Through this returning Spirit connection, God’s presence is with us and in us. He listens and answers us.
Before the Jews had the tick list of the Torah and the Law.
Now ‘Christians’ have the example of Jesus’ life and the guidance of the Spirit to direct our paths.
Paul makes it clear that this ‘leading’ will be evident by the nature of our conduct and our speech. We will prove our connection to God by the way we live our lives.
The Jewish community in Rome had their indicators of their separation and faith in God. They had their rules and their festivals.
The Gentile community would have a similar set of rules but a wide array of ‘gods’ to follow.
In our own communities and countries we also have a set of observances which will indicate we are a particular faith, ethnicity, or nationality.
The church has a clear list of services which mark out the year.
Paul tells those identifying themselves as Christians in Rome that there is one specific way which proves their faithfulness – being led by the Spirit of God.
In this they are all counted as children of God, in the same way and on the same footing as each other.
Being led by the Spirit of God is about reading about the life of Jesus in the Gospels, meditating upon the Words and letting them change our behaviour, and spending time conversing with God in prayer.
When we do these things, God will lead us.
Our thinking will change. Our words will change. Our actions will change.