“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. “ (Reference: Romans 8:1-2 )
The editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible tell their readers that the Protestant reformers interpreted these verse as saying that salvation is received through faith alone, “a liberation from the requirements of keeping the law.” The historic Anabaptists however believed that “the law of the Spirit of life” which is given to us through Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death.
A group of historic Anabaptist brothers wrote the following in their confession of faith, given at Trieste. A portion is excerpted here; “Christians, however,are not of the flesh but of the Spirit; whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9). Where the Spirit of Christ is there the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness (Rom. 6).”
The historic Anabaptists, and some Anabaptists/Mennonites from the 18th to the 20th century, felt everything of the body was sin and wrong, and only the spirit/soul could be sin free. That caused problems when more modern understandings revealed that the body/mind connection was much closer than realized. What to do? Is the body “bad” and therefore the “mind” no better? Must the “body” be purified so that it does not sully the “mind”? Or maybe there is a code of conduct that the body must obey so that it does not defile the mind? Some believed it does not matter what the “body” does as long as the “mind” is “pure”. As I said, it caused problems.
The position finally arrived at was that both the body AND the mind are capable of sin. But both the body and the mind are capable of purity. What the mind directs, the body does. And what the body demands, the mind accedes to. Both must be disciplined through following the example of Christ. So let me quote again what the historic Anabaptist brothers wrote, but with some modern Anabaptist understandings inserted. “Christians [meaning those who have accepted Christ as savior], however, are not of the flesh but of the Spirit; whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ [meaning the “not born again” who commit sins freely without conscience] does not belong to Christ (Rom. 8:9). Where the Spirit of Christ is there the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness (Rom. 6).”
When we (modern Anabaptist/Mennonites) say there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” we mean that Christ shows us our sins but offer salvation and redemption upon our confession. We know what is sin by what Christ tells us and shows us. We no longer need the law of sin and of death because we have Christ who is a living example as opposed to the “law” that is condemning and only leads to death.
For the past two days I have reflected upon and spoken of the historic Anabaptists and how their beliefs bound them to an experience that is more moving and horrifying. If I seem to be of two minds and mixed opinions on them, it reflects pretty accurately how modern Anabaptists/Mennonites look upon them. We have one more day of looking at the theme of discipleship, and I hope that will sum up the historic Anabaptist perspective.
May you beloved bring both your body and mind under the ruler-ship of Christ so that you might be free from sin and death. Selah!