Romans: The Clearest Gospel of All
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

#21 – The Truth as It is in Christ
(Romans 8:1-3)

Romans 8:1-3 has generated a lot of heat, both within the Christian church and within our own.  Therefore, before I tackle it, I’d like to lay down some certain groundwork so that this passage becomes meaningful.

Not too long ago, Ministry Magazine came out with two articles, both written by Adventist scholars, both dealing with the subject of Romans, the human nature of Christ.  The one by Dr.  Herbert Douglas presented the post-fall position; that is, Christ took the nature of man after the fall of Adam, that is, like our sinful nature.  The other article, by Dr.  Norman Gulley, presented the pre-fall nature of Christ; that is, He took the nature of Adam before the fall.

A few months after these articles appeared, I happened to meet with Elder Bob Spangler, the editor of Ministry Magazine.  I asked him a question, “Did you have any reaction to these two articles?”

He said, “Did I!  I was inundated with letters from both camps.”  In fact, he felt that he had received more letters over these two articles than over any other article that had appeared in the magazine while he had been editor.  In fact, he said that some of the letters were so angry, so bad, that it almost caused him to cry, that Christians could write such nasty letters.  You see, the humanity of Christ is one of those hotly debated issues in the issue of Righteousness by Faith.  And Romans 8:3 is one of those texts that has generated much heat:

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man....

Now, before we tackle this, I would like to say a few things about the subject.  The first thing I would like you to look at is a statement by E.G. White, of which I think I we need to take note.  7BC 904,905 taken from manuscript 67 published in 1898, we have the subheading, “The Most Marvelous Thing in Earth or Heaven.”

“When we want a deep problem to study, let us fix our minds on the most marvelous thing that ever took place in earth or heaven, the incarnation of the Son of God.”

Then, a few lines below she says:

“The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us.  It is the golden-linked chained which binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God.

“This is to be our study.  Christ was a real man and He gave proof of His humility in becoming a man.  He was God in the flesh.  When we approach the subject of Christ’s divinity clothed with the garb of humanity, we may appropriately heed the words spoken by Christ to Moses at the burning bush, ‘Put off thy shoes from off thy feet.’”

Please, don’t take that literally, but let us come humbly, for the place we’re in, the subject we are going to discuss, is holy ground.

“We must come to the study of this subject with the humility of a learner and with a contrite heart.  The study of the incarnation of Christ is a fruitful field and will repay the searcher who digs deep for hidden truth.”

There are four things we need to look at as we study this quotation:

  1. The incarnation of Christ is a deep study.  It will tax your mind to the fullest, but, please note, it is the most marvelous thing that ever happened on earth or in heaven.

  2. I want you to take note that the humanity of Christ is everything to us.  Please don’t ask me, “Why do we need to study this?  Is it important to our salvation?”  Yes, folks, it is vitally important to our salvation, both in terms of justification as well as sanctification, as we shall see in a moment.

  3. The third thing we can take note of in this quotation is that we must approach this study with reverence and humility, willing to learn.  What you think and what I think doesn’t matter.  What the Word teaches is what matters.

  4. Finally, this study is fruitful and will repay those who dig deeply.

But nowhere in this statement or anywhere else do we find that this is an issue that we must fight over, so I would like to suggest a policy that I normally use myself.  I would like to suggest that you use it, too.  In every church, in every denomination, the teachings of a church may be put into three categories:

  1. We have the fundamentals, we call it the fundamental beliefs.  (A book on these has come out, The 27 Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists.)

  2. Then you have nonfundamental beliefs.

  3. And lastly, there are teachings of the church which are considered nonessential.

Here is the policy.  In fundamental beliefs, we must be united.  If we are not united in fundamental beliefs, the church is in a problem.  In nonfundamentals, we must have charity.  We must respect each other.  In nonessential, there must be liberty.

Now irrespective of what you think or what I think of the human nature of Christ, the denomination looks at which nature he took as a nonfundamental belief and, therefore, allows both views to be taught.  That is why there were two articles presenting each different view.  We need to learn to respect each other, for in nonfundamental beliefs, each one must be persuaded in his own mind, between him and God.  We won’t solve any problems, we won’t receive any blessings when we fight.

I want to give you an illustration.  When the Pacific Press moved to Idaho, where I was pastoring, the following year the nominating committee and the church voted one of the top leaders of that Press to be the head elder of our church.  He was a very fine, godly, dedicated Christian, but we did not see eye-to-eye on this subject.  He was the head elder, I was the pastor.  What was I to do?  Well, I never condemned him.  I respected him.  He was a fine Christian and we got along very well.  We worked together, we became friends.

Then one day I said, “Can we sit down, when we have some time and compare notes?  I’ll respect your position.  You respect mine.  Tell me where I’m wrong, I’ll tell you where I see a problem in your position and let’s try and study together.”

He said, “Fine.  Let’s work together.”  So we began studying.  I gave him material to read, he gave me some and we kept comparing notes, looking at the weaknesses of each area.  Well, thank God, a year later he said he was willing to change.  But what I want to impress on you, folks, is that if I began by condemning him, we would have gotten nowhere.  You see, when we condemn each other on nonfundamental beliefs, when we become intolerant of each other, it is a sign of legalism.  Legalists don’t like to tolerate different views.  We need to respect each others’ views.  So I want you to be clear that if there are some of you, and I know there are, who belong to the opposite camp to where I stand, I’ll respect you.  But please, be honest with the Word of God.  Your conscience must never be against the will of God.  Study, wrestle with this issue, it is important.  But let us learn to respect each other.

Having said this, I would like to answer two important questions that we must answer when we are dealing with this subject and which are vital to Romans 8:1-3.  The first question is, “Why?  Why did Christ become a man?  What was God’s purpose in sending His Son in human flesh?  Why was ‘the Word made flesh and dwelt among us’?  Why?”  Now, that’s an important question.  It is, in fact, at the heart of true Christology.  Because, you see, Christ became a man not because He wanted to visit this earth.  He didn’t need to become a man to visit this earth.  There was a reason.  What was that reason?  Within Adventism there are three answers:

  1. Some teach that He became a man to prove that man can keep the law.  Some say, as God created him; some say in his fallen condition with the help of the Holy Spirit.  But the primary reason He became a man is to prove that the law can be kept.

    Now it is true:  the fact that Christ actually kept the law in His humanity proves that the law can be kept by man.  But nowhere in scripture do I find that this is the reason why He became man.  In other words, that is not the primary reason why he became man.  You won’t find that in the Bible.

    Now some of you may quote to me E.G. White, so I want to say something about that.  Now please don’t misunderstand me.  In 1980, I was discussing this with Walter Martin, the expert on the cults.  He came to Nairobi, Kenya, and he made a statement which I believe is true.  He said, “If E.G. White were to rise from the dead she would be horrified at the way your church has used her after her death.”

    Because when she was alive there were many theological problems.  There was the issue of the “daily” in Daniel 7 and 8, there was the problem with the 144,000, there were many other theological problems.  Never did she ever allow her writings to be used to solve those problems.  She always told the brethren, “Go to Scripture,” because the fundamental belief of the Adventist church is that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the only rule of faith and practice.  And, please remember, the message God has given us is for the world.  When you preach the gospel to the world, the only book we can use is the Bible.  But, as I read the Bible, I don’t find it saying that Christ became a man to prove anything.

  2. The second answer is that He became a man to be our example.

    Does the Bible teach this?  Yes.  Let me give you a couple of texts.  Turn to 1 Peter 2:21.  Peter uses Christ as an example of how we Christians should suffer when we are mistreated and falsely accused, that we should not fight back, that we should suffer as Christ did.  There He gives Christ as an example.  In 1 Peter 2:21, Peter says:

    To this you [believers] were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

    You have the same idea in Philippians 2:5-8, where Paul is admonishing believers to have the humility of Christ.  In Verse 5 he says:

    Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus....

    Then he talks of the self-emptying of Christ in verses 6-8:

    ...Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!

    But whenever the Bible talks of Christ as an example, it only uses him as an example to believers who have already accepted Christ and who stand justified by faith.  But when the Bible talks of Christ’s humanity in terms of the world, it never uses Christ as an example.  Christ is not an example to all men.  He is only an example to the born-again Christian.

    Those who emphasize the “example” position, those who put the emphasis there, have often been accused, and to a large degree rightly so, of legalism or perfectionism.  Because the “example theory of the atonement,” which is a theological teaching among certain theologians, is a heresy because it presents Christ as an example in terms of our salvation.  In other words, we must follow his example in order to be saved and that’s legalism.  That is why I would like to emphasize that “Christ our example” is not the primary purpose of Christ taking humanity.  It is the secondary purpose, but not the primary.

  3. This brings us to the third answer.  Christ became a man primarily, number one, that He might save fallen man.

    Jesus himself said [Luke 19:10]:

    For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

    When the angel told Joseph about the conception that Mary had just experienced, the angel instructed Joseph, in Matthew 1:21, that when this boy is born:

    ...You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

    In Galatians 4:4 and 5, Paul tells us:

    But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

    In Hebrews 2:14-17, we are told that Christ partook in, or shared, our humanity that he might save us from death and the fear of death:

    Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Christ] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

So the primary reason, at the very heart of Christology, is Christ became a man in order to be the Savior of the world.  And to those who believe he says, “Now, I want you to use me as an example.”

Once we establish this, we come to the next question and that is, “How did His humanity save us?”  We have established the fact that he became a man to be the Redeemer of the world.  The question is, “How did that humanity save us?”  This is also a very important question, and within Adventism we have two answers.  We are not agreed on how he saved us.

One camp says he saved us “vicariously.”  The other camp says he saved us “actually.”  Now, because each camp takes a different position on the human nature of Christ, what do these two positions mean?  Those who teach the vicarious position teach that Christ had to take the sinless nature of Adam before the fall.

The word vicarious means “a person who functions instead of another.”  This is their argument.  They say that, “Sin is a dual problem.  Sin is what I am and sin is what I do.  I’m a sinner by nature.”  (We touched on this last study where Paul teaches in Romans 7 that there is sin dwelling in our very members, in our nature, in verse 17, verse 20, verse 23.  He calls it the law of sin and death.)

But sin is also performance and Christ had to save me both from what I am and from my failures.  How did He do it?  “It is very simple,” they say.  “He took the sinless nature of Adam to substitute, to be in place of, the sinful nature of man.  So His sinless nature saves us from our sinful nature.  And His sinless performance, which is his doing and dying, saves us from our sinful performance.  Thus, His sinless nature plus His sinless performance together give us salvation full and complete.  Christ is the perfect Redeemer.”

Sounds good!  Sounds wonderful!  Sounds convincing!  But there is one major problem.  In fact, there are two problems, but one major one:  this makes the gospel unethical.  You see, it is perfectly acceptable to have substitutes in football and basketball and, in the teaching profession, we have substitute teachers.  It is even acceptable that we have substitute foods, like substitute meats from Loma Linda and Worthington.  That’s a substitute.  It is in place of the real stuff.  Now, it’s a poor imitation but it’s still a substitute.

But when you apply this definition of substitution, somebody who functions instead of somebody else, legally you face an ethical problem.  Because it’s a fundamental principle of all law, God’s or man’s, that you cannot allow an innocent person to suffer in the place of a guilty person.  No law will allow that.  No judge would be legally right to allow [serial murderer] Ted Bundy’s mother to suffer the death sentence for her son no matter how much she wanted to, because it is unethical.

Now when God established Israel as a Theocracy, He made it very clear in Deuteronomy 24:16 that you cannot transfer guilt and punishment:

Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.

He made a law and, in fact, He wanted to see the law carried out.  Look at 2 Kings 14:6:

Yet he did not put the sons of the assassins to death, in accordance with what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses where the Lord commanded: “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sins.”

You will notice how this law was fulfilled.  And when Israel departed from this principle and began transferring guilt and punishment, God came down hard on them through Ezekiel the prophet.  In Ezekiel 18:5-20 you will see how God comes down hard on people who transfer guilt.

Therefore, if God made it clear that you cannot transfer guilt and punishment — an innocent man cannot suffer in the place of a guilty man — then the vicarious position becomes unethical.  And, because it is unethical, those who preach this position, like the Reformers, were accused of “legal fiction” or, “as if passed on righteousness.”

Today the same view is condemned by Muslim scholars who say that this teaching makes Christianity the most unethical religion in the world.  The vicarious position has that major problem.

It has a second problem.  If Christ did not have to become “me” to identify himself with me, to be my Savior, then obviously I don’t have to identify myself with Him to be saved.  All I have to do is simply accept, simply believe (and the word “believe” is understood as a mental assent to truth), simply say “yes” and Heaven is mine.  But genuine faith, as we saw already, demands identification with Christ.  His death is our death.  His life is our life.  His burial is our burial.  Paul, in Romans 6:5, will use the same word as he uses in Romans 8:3:

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

(Our resurrection will be real because His resurrection was real.)  The result is, if you don’t identify yourself with Christ, you end up with what is called cheap grace.  “He did it all.  I’m saved.  Praise the Lord.  I can do what I like.”  True salvation, true gospel, true justification by faith won’t allow that.

What about those who say He actually saved us?  What do they mean by that?  Well, they say that Christ could not save us until first He qualified to be our Savior.  How did He qualify?  He took unto Himself the humanity that needed redeeming, the humanity that stood condemned.  He took it unto Himself so that He may redeem it; not in place of it, but to redeem it itself.

So when Christ assumed our corporate humanity that needed redeeming, He qualified to be the second Adam, the Savior of the world.  Then, by His doing and by His dying, He not only provided salvation, He actually changed the history of mankind in Himself.  And that, by the way, is the message of Romans 8:1-3.  We have a new history in Christ, a new identity, a new position.  There we stand perfect in Christ, we stand reconciled, we stand legally justified.  It was not just a provision, it was an actual salvation for all man.  That is the good news of the gospel.

Now, with this background let’s go now to Romans 8.  Now I know the big issue is over the word “likeness.”  The Greek word for “likeness” can mean “resemble” or it can mean “similar,” and Paul will use it in both ways, in Romans, and also in other passages.  We cannot find out the true meaning of “likeness” in Romans 8 simply by making a word study.  We have to look at it in its context.  And I would say that we have been so bogged down with that one word, “likeness” in verse 3, that we forget the entire meaning of the whole passage that Paul is trying to convey.

So instead of being bogged down with the word “likeness,” I would like to read for you a very reliable and a very good commentary by a group of scholars under the editorship of Cranfield, none of whom were Seventh-day Adventists but who are fine Biblical scholars.  The commentary is the International Critical Commentary, the 1982 edition, by Cranfield.  Here’s that part which is pertinent:

“By sinful flesh [this is referring to Romans 8:3], Paul clearly meant sinful flesh, that is, fallen human nature.  But why did he say in “likeness” of sinful flesh rather than just “in sinful flesh”?  At any rate, there are five alternative solutions to this problem.”

Now I won’t read you all five, because three of them are very liberal positions, but I will review two of them, both taught within our church.  Those who teach the vicarious position and say that Christ took the pre-fall nature of Adam use the argument of number two.  Here it is:

“Paul introduced ‘likeness’ in order to avoid implying that the Son of God assumed fallen human nature.  The sense being, ‘like our fallen flesh, because really flesh, but only like and not identical with it, because unfallen.’ This, though it is the traditional solution [i.e.  the evangelical church teaches this], is open to the general theological objection that it was not unfallen but fallen human nature which needed redeeming.” 

In other words, if Christ came to save fallen man, it becomes senseless that He took unfallen human nature.

Here is the fifth argument which is the second argument taught within our church, taught by the actual people who take the position that Christ assumed our fallen nature:

“That the intention being the use of ‘likeness’ here was to take account of the fact that the Son of God was not in being sent by His Father changed into a man, but rather assumed human nature while still remaining Himself.”

That is, Divinity did not become humanity, Divinity took unto Itself humanity, but Christ was still God.  The quote continues:

“On this view the word “likeness” does have its sense of “likeness” but the intention is not in any way to call in question or to water down the reality of Christ’s sinful flesh, but to draw attention to the fact that while the Son of God truly assumed sinful flesh, He never became sinful flesh and nothing more, nor even sinful flesh indwelt by the Holy Spirit [which is what believers are] and nothing more.  But He always remained Himself.”

In other words, God, His divinity, never changed.  It remained divinity or, to use the words of E.G. White, she puts it very nicely:

“He took upon his sinless divine nature our sinful nature.”  (MM 181)

And then it begins to critique each of these positions, and I’ll read what it says about position number two:

“We have already indicated the serious theological objection which lies against number two position.”

That objection was that Christ came to save fallen man and not unfallen man.  Then, regarding five, which is the fallen position:

“We conclude that position number five is to be accepted as the most probable explanation of Paul’s use of the word “likeness,” and understand Paul’s thought to be that the Son of God assumed the self same fallen human nature that is ours; but that in His case, that fallen human nature was never the whole of Him.  He never ceased to be the Eternal Son of God.”

“If we recognize that Paul had this in mind and believe that it was fallen human nature which the Son of God assumed, we shall probably be inclined to see here also a reference to the unintermittent warfare [the constant warfare that Jesus Christ battled His whole earthly life] by which He forced our rebellious nature [i.e., our sinful nature] to render a perfect obedience to God.”

Then they quote the neo-orthodox scholar, Karl Barth:

“Those who believe that it was fallen human nature which was assumed have even more cause than that of the authors of the Heidelburg Catechism to see the whole of Christ’s life on earth as having redemptive significance; for in this view Christ’s life before his actual ministry and death, was not just a standing where unfallen Adam had stood, without yielding to the temptation to which Adam succumbed, but a matter of starting from where we start, subject to all the evil pressures which we inherit and using the altogether unpromising and unsuitable material of our corrupt nature to work out a perfect sinless obedience.” 

This, by the way, was the 1888 message.  Today scholars — non-adventist scholars — are preaching it.  Don’t ever tell me that there are no scholars that back this position.  I have just read to you from one of the top commentaries of the Christian church.  The International Critical Commentary takes the position that Christ took the fallen nature.  But now let’s look at the context.  Romans 8:1:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus....

The word “therefore” immediately tells me that this verse is connected with the previous statements that Paul made.  What did Paul say previously to verse 1 of chapter 8?  Remember, there were no chapter and verse divisions when Paul wrote.  What is he saying?  He has just told us in Romans 7:14-25 that there is a problem in his life, a problem in every human life.  And that is:  sin dwells in us.  The law of sin is in our members.  And in Romans 7:24 he cries out in desperation:

What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?

I have a body that stands condemned to death because it has sin dwelling in it.  Who will deliver me not from my sin, my acts, but from what I am?  That is the issue.  I want you to know his answer, Romans 7:25:

Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now he didn’t explain any further there.  He goes to Romans 8 to explain what he means by, “Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  In view of this, he says:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus....

Do you still have sin dwelling in your members?  I’m not talking about performance, I’m talking of sin dwelling in you, in your members.  The answer is “yes,” because Christians still have sinful flesh.  Do you stand condemned?  Not in Christ; there is no condemnation for those in Christ.

Now I would like to say for those of you who have the King James version of the Bible, because you will notice, those of you who have a modern translation like the NIV, Good News Bible, or any contemporary version, the second half of verse one from the King James is not there:

...who do walk not according to the flesh [the sinful nature], but according to the Spirit.

The most reliable manuscripts do not have that second part.  I am convinced this is a scribal addition, not mainly because of the textual fact but because if Paul put that statement there in verse 1, he would be contradicting his own theology.  Because he would be saying that we are justified because we are doing something, we are walking in the Spirit.  He would be making sanctification the means of justification, which Paul condemned.

Yes, sanctification is the fruit of justification, never the means.  That part, “walking in the spirit and not in the flesh,” does belong to verse 4 but not to verse 3.  All that Paul says in verse 1 is that, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.”  Why is there no condemnation for those who are in Christ?  The answer is found in verse 2, because something took place in Christ.  Romans 8:2:

...Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Please notice it’s not through you, but through Christ.  Now the words “set me free” are in the past historic tense, the Aorist.  It’s something that has already happened in the past.  I have and you have already been freed from the law of sin and death, but we have been freed in Christ.  Now how could Christ free you from the law of sin and death if he did not assume the nature that had it?  Then in verse 3 he goes on to say how this happened, he gives the details.  Romans 8:3:

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man....

The law of God could not free you from the law of sin and death, and he’s already covered that in chapter 7.  The flesh is incapable of keeping the law of God because it’s weak.  What the law could not do, God did.  How did God do it?  By sending His own son in a human nature that is like yours and mine.

Now please notice what he condemned.  He did not condemn “sins,” your performance or mine.  He condemned “SIN,” singular.  What is Paul referring to when he uses the phrase “sin in sinful man” (or “sin in the flesh,” as some translations read)?  The phrase “sin in the flesh,” found in verse 3, the phrase “the law of sin and death” found in verse 2, the phrase “the law of sin at work within my members” found in Romans 7:23, the phrase “sin living in me” found in Romans 7:17 and 20 are all synonymous terms.  Paul is not dealing here with our performance; he is dealing with the source of our problem, the foundation of our problem, which is sin dwelling in me.

Now, those who teach the post-fall position, to which I belong, have a problem.  We must also be honest with our position.  If Christ took that sinful nature which has sin dwelling in it, and which condemns me, doesn’t that make Christ a sinner in need of a Savior?  That’s the argument of the pre-fall people.  That’s a valid argument.

Unfortunately, the solution that is offered to them is unacceptable.  Even I won’t accept it.  They [the post-fall group] say that sinful nature is not sin.  “Yes,” they say, “we have an inclination towards sin, we have a bent toward sinning, but it is not sin.”

Folks, you would have a hard time proving it from Romans 7 and from other passages.  The Bible does call it sin, so that is not the solution.  Sin is not a singular problem, it is a dual problem.

Then what’s the solution?  Well, as I read the New Testament, I discovered something, that whenever the New Testament talks about the humanity of Christ, it always uses a qualifying word.  In Romans 8:3 the qualifying word is “likeness.”  In John 1:14 and Galatians 4:4 the word used is “made” or “to become,” the Greek word “ginomai.”  In 2 Corinthians 5:21 you have the word “made” also, “He was made sin.”  In Hebrews 2:14 the qualifying word is “partake” or “share”:  He shared in our humanity.

In other words, what the New Testament teaches is this:  in the incarnation Jesus Christ became, was made, shared, what we are, but what we are did not belong to him by native right.  We must never ever teach that Christ HAD a sinful nature.  That would be heresy.  That would be making Him altogether like us.  He ASSUMED our sinful nature.  He TOOK upon Himself what belongs to us, not to Him.

Now it is true that if Christ consented to the sinful desires of that nature, if He yielded to that nature even by a thought, He would have become a sinner in need of a redeemer.  But as long as He would not allow that nature to control Him or to express itself in Him, He was not a sinner.  He was made sin, He was made flesh, but He was not sin.  In other words, we must never drag the will of Christ, the mind of Christ into sin.  That would be making Him a sinner.  Yes, He took our nature, He struggled with our nature, but He conquered that nature and He executed that nature on the cross, and that is what verse 3 is saying.  On the cross He took that nature and executed it or He allowed the executioners to execute it so that we may be set free from the law of sin and death.  Now, what is our conclusion?  What is the blessing of this wonderful truth?  The blessing is twofold, not one, but twofold.

  1. You and I are sinners, not because of our sins only, but because of what we are.  I am a sinner by nature, plus I am a sinner by performance.  Jesus saved me from both, not vicariously.  He took my nature and He executed that nature on the cross so I’m saved from my sin.  But in that death, all my sins which that nature produced also died.  When you cut down an apple tree the apples also die.  Am I correct?  And when He dealt with the very core of my sin problem He dealt with the other problem too, the sin.  Because of this there is no condemnation, and that’s the first blessing [Romans 8:1]:

    Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus....

    Even if God were to give you total victory over sin, you still stand as a sinner because your nature will condemn you.  But in Christ I have freedom from my nature as well as from my performance.  I have a perfect Savior.

  2. But that is not the only blessing that we receive, we receive a second blessing from this truth, which we will study in detail as we go along to verse 4, but I’ll just review verse 4.  The second blessing is this:  that the righteous requirements of the law which we could not keep ourselves, might be fulfilled, are possible to be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh (because if you walk in the flesh you will have the frustration of Romans 7), but who walk according to the Spirit.

    This same Spirit that conquered the law of sin in Christ and executed the law of sin in Christ, this same Holy Spirit that produced righteousness in the humanity of Christ that is identical to ours, that same Spirit is now available to you and to me who are born-again Christians.

    And as we walk in the Spirit, the righteous requirements, not some of the righteous requirements, but the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us, not to justify us, but as evidence that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  So the humanity of Christ is everything.

These three verses are extremely crucial because in these verses Paul is telling me that Jesus did not only come to save me from my sins which are many, but to quote John the Baptist in John 1:29:

Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

He takes away sin, singular, the SIN of the world.  He took the cause, the source of our problem and with it He took also our sins.  And so in Christ, Who became one of us, we have a perfect Redeemer.  We have a new history and we have a new hope.  And I say praise the Lord for a Savior who came not halfway between God and man where Adam stood before the fall, but came to where I am, struggled with the struggles I am going through.  So we have a Priest in heaven now who can sympathize with me and who can help me.  I thank God for such a Savior.  He is my elder brother.  I hope He is yours, too, is my prayer in Jesus’ name.


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