1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:1-8
Last post we saw there is no condemnation for those in Christ because “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (2)
So, what is the law of the Spirit that gives life? Is it different from the law that was given at Sinai or that ruled the lives of the Jews on a daily basis? I don’t believe that the law of the Spirit is talking about the law as commandments. The law of the Spirit that gives life is the gospel. In 2 Corinthians 3:8 Paul calls the gospel the “ministry of the Spirit.” It is the gospel, after all, that has freed us the curse of the law and of being under the control of Satan, sin and death.
Take a look again at verses 3 and 4 to see the point Paul is driving home to the Romans. John Stott points out, “The first and fundamental truth which Paul declares is that God has taken the initiative to do what the law (even though it was His own law) was powerless to do.” Romans p. 239
As Christians it is fundamental that we recognize that the law can neither justify nor sanctify us. I have talked to scores of Christians who believe that they are justified by faith without performing works of law, but as soon as it comes to sanctification they go into works mode.
The reason we can not be justified or sanctified by the law is because “we are weakened by the sinful nature (flesh).” (v. 3) As Stott says, “The law’s impotence is not intrinsic. It is not in itself but in us, in our flesh, our fallen selfish nature (Romans 7: 14-20). So then what the sin-weakened law could not do, God did.” Romans p. 219
What an amazing life giving, encouraging, wonderful thought to spend our time dwelling upon. When people strike out at us because we believe in grace alone they often quote the idea that the law is Holy and good. What they don’t understand is that we are not differing with them, because we understand that. What we are saying is, because the law is holy and good and we are not, we can’t keep it or please God through trying to keep it. It is arrogance and belittling of Jesus to believe that we in our sinful state can obey the law of God perfectly. Do we really want to declare that we believe we are sinless as Jesus was, because that is what we are saying when we say we can keep the law.
Here is how the gospel of salvation works. First God sent His Son, whose incarnation and atonement are mentioned in verse 3. Then He gave us His Spirit through whose indwelling power we are enabled to fulfill the law’s requirements. (see verse 4) God justifies us through the Son and sanctifies us through the Spirit.
To quote Stott again is a must as his insights are so clear and helpful. “God condemned sin in sinful man, that is, in the flesh or humanity of Jesus, real and sinless, although made sin with our sins. God judged our sins in the sinless humanity of His Son, who bore them in our place. The law condemns sin, in the sense of expressing, disapproval of it, but when God condemned sin in His own Son, His judgment fell upon it in Him. As Charles Cranfield puts it, ‘for those who are in Christ Jesus…..there is no divine condemnation, since the condemnation they deserve has already been fully borne for them by Him’” Romans p. 220
Now we come to verse four, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Is Paul now contradicting what he said in the first three verses? No, not at all. He is saying that a redeemed Christian who is under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit will live a life, not perfectly, in harmony with the law. But, we must remember that the law is the law of the new covenant, the law of love.
So, let me sum up what I think Paul is telling us in these first four verses. We, on our own and in our own strength, cannot love God with all our heart nor our fellow man as our self. When we allow Jesus into our heart we suddenly are filled with grace and the peace that accompanies the knowledge that we are saved. This is only accomplished through the merits of Jesus and His bearing our sins at Calvary. The work of the Spirit in our life is to bring us into unfathomable gratitude to God for His mercy and this spills out into love for others.
The work of the Spirit is to fill our lives with love. At this Christmas season may we allow that love to flow through us and into the lives of those around us.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you who reads this blog and may God continue to lead and direct in your lives.
Ladd and Ruth
Wind Chimes (written by Kevin Thompson) Ruth Dunfield from Times Like This CD
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…