There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.(Romans 4:1-4)
Romans 8 is a continuation of the theme of Romans 5, the gospel of the assurance of salvation. There is therefore NOW no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Why not?
Because what Jesus did for us is greater than what Adam did for us. If Adam’s one act of disobedience plunged us into a reign of condemnation, Jesus’ one act of obedience can bring us into “the abundance of grace and the gift of Righteousness”.
“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Romans 5:20-21)
Furthermore, there is no condemnation possible for us, because we have not merely been forgiven of past sins, we have been translated from being “In Adam” into being “In Christ”. We now have a whole new God-given status and identity.
And there is no condemnation for us because we are no longer under the law. it’s not that there is anything wrong with the law of God, there couldn’t be, it is Holy,Just and True. The problem is with us. “The Law was weak through the flesh”. The Law only had us to work with, it could show us truth, but not empower us to live it.
God has done what the Law could never do, and that is another one of the reasons why there is NOW no condemnation to we who are In Christ. God has sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh , and as an offering for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.
This passage reminds us that the basis for assurance is that is God’s salvation, His gospel, it involved the sending of God’s own Son into this world, He himself took the initiative. Jesus was sent to us in God’s name,in the Likeness of sinful flesh. What does this expression mean?
* It has to do with the Incarnation. In Jesus ,God became a flesh and blood man, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us“.Over and Over again the scriptures testify that God was manifested in the flesh…God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself….Since the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same…”
* He made himself a sin offering, “And for sin He condemned sin in the flesh”, ie “As an offering for sin…” The grounds for the gift of Righteousness, is the offering of Jesus Christ unto God as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus did no sin, nor did He ever practice guile, He fully pleased God as a human being, his whole life. But at the prime of His life, he made his life an offering to God, he “was made sin” as 2 Cor 5 tells us.
“For He made Him who knew no sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21)
* “In the Likeness of sinful flesh” is typified in the serpent on the pole, of the book of Numbers. The people had grumbled and murmured against God and Moses, and deserved the judgment that they were receiving, plague in which serpents were giving them fatal snake bites.
But Moses and Aaron, after interceding for them, were instructed to make a bronze serpent” and elevate it upon a pole. Whoever looked away from their snake bite unto the pool was healed. The bronze snake was not a snake , it was “in the likeness “of a poisonous snake, representing the death and judgment upon the thing which had afflicted them.
In the same way, Jesus did not sin, ever. He never broke faith with God in any way, but he took our sins upon himself, and bore them to judgment and death. To see Him upon the cross is to be healed from our worst malady, it is to see the death of sin, the judgment upon judgment, the death of you and I, by way of substitution! Hallelujah!
* Furthermore, this expression that He came,“in the likeness of sinful flesh”,reminds us that though Jesus did not have a sinful nature, he did share with us in some of the physical consequences of sin. Jesus was subject to tiredness, discouragement, weakness,pain and sorrow, grief, and disappointment. In that way he became like us.
The book of Hebrews brings this out very powerfully in its discussion on the utter dependence upon God that Jesus lived in as a man;
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;(Hebrews 5:7)
* Why did Jesus have to come “In the likeness of sinful flesh“? Because he had to become a man, under law, in order to save us who were under law. He entered into the arena where everything had gone wrong, that is in the human body and in human nature.
God, through Him “Condemned sin in the flesh”, in other words, the sins that you and I have done in our bodies, have been judged, and punished, in a human body, and upon a human life, that is , in Jesus of Nazareth. This took real human hands to nail to a real cross of wood, a true human head to crown with thorns, real human tongue to parch with true thirst.
We have a real Saviour, flesh and bone, who died for the sins we have done against God in our own bodies. They nailed Him to a cross which had splinters, and they embalmed the body of Jesus in a tomb, with a certain weight of spices.On the third day, (a real day on the calendar). He was crucified under the real reign of a real Governor, Pontius Pilate.
He rose from the dead and was seen and handled. When they ate with him, the apostles couldn’t see the fish and bread through his esophagus, because he isn’t see-through, He is physical. The apostles put real hands into real scars, and watched as he ascended to heaven.