Updated: Jun 22, 2020
In this new series, "Arrival," we're going to look at how, in Jesus Christ, God has given us a transformational language for speaking about ourselves, our world, and our place in the world. He has given us a new way to talk about sin, forgiveness, and purpose in life. It is nothing short of a total reorientation of how we see ourselves and our place in the world.
Here's where we left off last week:
Romans 8:3 says, "For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do." So God did something more than criticize sin and call it condemnable. When Paul says, "By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh," he means that in Jesus' flesh - in his suffering and dying body on the cross - God executed a final sentence of condemnation on the sin of everyone who is in Christ. In other words, when we say God condemned sin, we mean that God found sin guilty and sentenced sin to be finally punished and carried out the penalty in the suffering death of His Son.
I want to spend a long moment getting at what Paul means in verse 3, "For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do."
Let's start with what the law can't do. The law can't change us. There's nothing in the law that can make us right with God. There's nothing in the law that can free us from sin and death. What the law can do is speak to us. The law speaks to us. It tells us what we are to do. It defines for us what good and righteous people look like. The law sets the parameters for what a good person looks like. The law spells out for us the things we must do and must not do if we want to be good people. Are you with me on that? I think most people want to think they've been decent human beings; that the good in their lives outweighs the bad. Even nonbelievers have this sense about life that if there is a heaven, you'll go there if you've done more good in your life than bad. And the law defines what good and bad are.
The law boils down to this. It tells us what we are to do, and then it reminds us precisely what we are…born to sin. In other words, by defining what makes a good person, we have something to compare our lives to, and we can see the places we fall short. So while the law cannot change us, it d