‘By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4
We are on the holiest of Holy Ground in our Daily Office reading this morning. We have come to the start of the greatest chapter in the greatest of Paul’s epistles – Romans 8.
This has been a fundamental and foundational text for me in my Christian life. I was taught by a godly man to memorize and take to heart the great truth that starts the chapter: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Take note: IF you have responded by faith to the gospel of Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through the sacrament of baptism, you are “IN Christ Jesus”. And IF you are IN Christ Jesus THEN you are no longer UNDER “condemnation”.
This is great news both theologically and practically.
My godly friend taught me the difference between the ‘convicting voice of the Spirit’ and the ‘condemning voice of the enemy’. When we sin the Spirit convicts us (‘You have done wrong!) while the enemy condemns us (‘You ARE wrong!’). I was graciously taught to recognize that condemning voice and to renounce it. It has literally changed my life.
But today, I was caught by a second and complimentary great truth from this dense and glorious text. Paul writes: “By sending his own Son in the likeness of human flesh (the Incarnation) and for sin (the Atonement: to deal with the reality of sin), he condemned sin in the flesh….”
Note what Paul is saying: by the sending of God’s Son, as the Messiah of Israel, and through his life and his death, the Creator of all has not only brought ‘sin’ to trial, but has pronounced and executed his judgment on it. He has “condemned sin in the flesh” – first and foremost Jesus’ flesh, but in so doing, for “all human flesh” – you and me included. Again, this is great and glorious good news for us.
We tend to understand ‘sin’ in terms of our ‘wrong actions’, and thus the forgiveness of sins as the “pardoning of those actions.’ But for Paul, “Sin” is the personification of evil; the enslaving and corrupting force within the created order and supremely within the human creature. Go back and read Romans chapter 7 and you will see this writ large.
What all of this means is this: Through Jesus’ life and death, God has not only judged ‘sin’, but has broken its power — its enslaving, corrupting power — over the lives of all those who are IN Christ Jesus. Which means this: while we who are in Christ may still sin, the great truth is we NEED NOT Sin! Sin’s power — its corrupting and enslaving power over our lives has been broken!
Let that truth sink into your heart this morning.
It too will change your life.