The Human Jesus

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”
Romans 8:3-4 NLT

Our sinful natures, ubiquitous and universal, give control freaks a problem. No matter how hard they try, they will never be able to control their seemingly unstoppable ability to commit sins. As Paul said in these verses today, even with the help of the Law of Moses, they will be too weak to effectively live up to God’s righteous standard all of the time. We may all succeed in staying righteous for a few moments, but then, at the very least, our thoughts will wander off and focus on something sinful. But thankfully, God didn’t walk away from us, wringing His hands in despair. He sent His Son Jesus “in a body like the bodies we sinners have”. Surely, He must have thought, they will listen to My Son.

We know from the accounts of the Apostles that Jesus lived His life as one of us but in a sinless state. No-one has ever been able to point a finger at Jesus and say, “Aah, but what about …”. We know how His life ended. Surely the greatest and most devastating miscarriage of justice there has ever been. But by God allowing His Son to be sacrificed, He “declared an end to sin’s control over us”. 

We note from these verses today that God didn’t do away with the Law. But we know that, because Jesus said so in Matthew 5:17, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose”. The Law, according to Paul, had a “just requirement” that had to be fully satisfied. And it still does. Jesus told His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to help them, and by following Him, they would be released from the power of sin over their lives. Jesus said in John 15:26, “But I will send you the Advocate —the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me”. And we know how that happened if we read Acts 2.

Through Jesus, there is no more condemnation for sinners like us. As the old song says, “It is no longer I that liveth but Christ that liveth in me”. And because He lives in us through His Spirit, He helps us so that no more will we be under sin’s power. We are free! Praises be to God!

Dear Lord. You set us free from the power of sin and death at Calvary. Please help us to share that truth with all those we meet. In Your precious name. Amen.

No Condemnation

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
Romans 8:1-2 NLT

This famous verse starts with “So now”. In other translations it’s “Therefore”. It is as though Paul has turned a page in His thinking and writing about the Law and sin, and particularly his personal inability to live the righteous life he wants to live. He leaves the previous chapter with a wail of despair, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death” (Romans 7:24)? But thankfully he followed up his cry with a statement of reassurance, as he writes, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord …” (Romans 7:25a). The fact that Jesus brought the answer to his dilemma is then amplified in our key verse today, as if he suddenly realised its implications.

For the Roman Christians the message was really Good News. But the life-changing importance of this verse has reverberated down through the ages to the present day. Christ-followers have grasped this verse with grateful hearts, knowing that its earth-shattering conclusion has saved them from an eternity that would otherwise have been spent in a place so dark and hot, and so inevitable, that even the devil will find himself incarcerated there. You see, there will come a day when everyone, past, present and future, will stand before God to give an account of their lives. And the really Good News is that all those who have accepted Jesus and His redeeming grace will be declared “Not guilty”. They will not become men and women condemned to an eternity in hell, even though they deserve that fate because of their sins. 

We pilgrims “belong to Christ Jesus”. No ifs or buts. Through His breathtaking grace, the implications of belonging to Him means that we have been set free from “the power of sin that leads to death”.  What a wonderful Saviour! We are condemned no more. Paul continues with his message as he unfolds the truths of what Jesus has done for us. Exciting reading! But even more exciting news!

Father God. What can we say? We are overwhelmed with gratitude for Your love and grace. Amen.