“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)
No condemnation, what an intriguing idea. Romans 8:1 is one of my favorite verses in scripture. It is truth, it is encouraging, and, if we would just embrace it, it would be incredibly freeing. Guilt is a crippling emotion that can paralyze any one of us into a crazy cycle that keeps revolving in a pattern of destruction. John 10:10 states: 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” What does he come to destroy? Although there are many things that can be inserted to answer that question, I think it is very clear that at least one of the things that he comes to destroy is our life. He uses guilt to do this.
Guilt is not all bad, though. In fact, we have learned that God’s purpose in giving us the law was to invoke guilt. The law exposes sin in our lives and surfaces the guilt that we have in His eyes. The law’s conveyance of guilt is a good thing, because it shows our need to be redeemed from this guilt. I once heard guilt described this way; guilt before repentance is conviction, and guilt after repentance is condemnation.
Conviction is a good thing. It invokes the action of repentance. We see that we are guilty in an area of our life, we do not want to be guilty, and so we turn away from the sin. Now, we are no longer guilty, and more importantly, we should no longer feel guilty. That debt has been paid for through Christ Jesus. But, the thief comes in and tries to destroy this freedom that we have obtained through our redemption, by reminding us of our shortcomings and using the law against us in a way where we start to question Christ’s work. We must guard against this by clinging to the truth of the redemptive work that was done once and for all through Christ.
“12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:12-18).
When we have repented, we are no longer held in bondage to that sin. There is no more justifiable guilt, and any that arises is not from God. We have been set free. We have been given life.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
We have learned throughout Romans that the Law could not do a lot of things.
- It cannot save (Chapters 3,4, and 5)
- It cannot sanctify (6)
- It does not deliver from sin (7:14-25)
All of these things are done through Jesus and His work and not the law. His payment, His sacrifice, His blood, His death, His resurrection, all provide the atoning work to justify us in the sight of God. His work through the Spirit also transforms us from that death to life.
“3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,”
Now, we look deeper into the importance of the law. It must be fulfilled. It was only possible through Jesus. The law is holy, Jesus is holy. The law is perfect, Jesus is perfect.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
Now, in verse 4. Paul makes the ultimate claim,
4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
The law that was fulfilled in Christ, will one day be fulfilled in us. This is the good work that he mentions in Philippians…
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6).
Our glorification, the end of the sanctification process and our return to perfect communion with God, is the fulfillment of this law in the way that it was intended. If the law was given to show that we need Jesus to get back to this relationship with the Father, then when we get back to that point, He has fulfilled this law in us.
In our new condition, we go from slaves to sin to slaves to righteousness. It is a process that we call sanctification. We are not sinless throughout this process, but Christ’s work through the Spirit allows for the stronghold of sin to be broken to the point where the desire for sin becomes less and less. Remember sin is missing the mark on God’s perfect standard, but more simply, it is seeking something other than Him in any facet for fulfillment. Either way, sin or righteousness, God is going to be glorified. He desires greatly for that glory to come through the righteous obedience that brings that intimacy with each one of us. The more we let the Spirt do His work in us, and the less we revert to the flesh, the more we want to see this righteous glorification as well.