The Blessing of Life⸻Page 2 (Lessons on Romans)
by John Lowe
The law of the Spirit of life—breaks the domination of the old law of sin and death. The Spirit of life is the Holy Spirit, who brings life because He essentially is life. He is the Spirit of life. Through Jesus Christ, men are set free. The law of the Spirit of life, also called the Law of Faith, is synonymous with the Gospel.
The phrase in Christ Jesus refers to the spiritual union of believers with the Lord through His death and resurrection. Because the believer shares the life of Christ, He liberates the believer. What is involved in this was given in chapter 6:3–11.
The phrase made me free means the freedom from bondage that the believer has when he receives Christ as Lord and Savior. Paul may have had the occasion of his conversion in mind.
The whole verse can be summed up in one sentence: That the triumph of believers over their inward corruption, through the power of Christ’s Spirit in them, proves that they are in Christ Jesus.
3The word law does not mean condemnation. It means “pattern,” or “principle,” or “system,” or rule.”
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
The law could never get people to fulfill its sacred requirements, but grace has succeeded where the law failed. Let us see how!
For what the law could not do—the meaning may be either “the weakness of the law,” or “that which was impossible for the Law.” The latter is probably the correct meaning. The significance is the same however, regardless of the meaning you accept; the Law could not give freedom from condemnation, it could not justify or impart life, and it could not produce holy living, because it was weak through the flesh. It was weak in its inability to accomplish, by means of the flesh that which God alone could do and has done. The reason for the inability is not stated, but the point is, its powerlessness. The inability and its cause are found in Romans 7:14–25. Romans 3:20 tells us, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The law of the heathen, the law of nature, the law of morality, the law of conscience, the Law of Moses; none can justify a man and make him righteous in the sight of God. Even the law of Christ, laid down in the Sermon on the Mount, cannot justify a man. It is by the law that the knowledge of sin comes, a point expanded on in 4Romans 5:20; but no law can save a man. The law can convict men of sin; it can define sin, but it cannot emancipate man from sin. Only the grace of God can do that. The whole world is sinful and desperately in need of the righteousness of God. However, if that righteousness is to come to the individual, it must come through the agency of grace; sovereign grace, not by human works. The Law of Moses could not justify us; it could not sanctify us, because it was weak through the flesh. The Mosaic Law is good and holy, but our flesh is weak and we are unable to keep the law, therefore, the law does not have the power to justify. The trouble was not with the law but with the fallen human nature. The law spoke to men who were already sinners and who were without the strength to obey. Nevertheless, God intervened by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. Take careful notice that the Lord Jesus did not come in sinful flesh itself, but in “the likeness of” sinful flesh.
• He did no sin: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). Our Lord did not suffer for His own sins because He had none.
• He knew no sin: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). We must beware of any idea that on the cross of Calvary the Lord Jesus Christ actually became sinful in Himself. Such an idea is false. Our sins were placed on Him, but they were not in Him. What happened is that God made Him to be a sin offering on our behalf. Trusting in Him, we are reckoned righteous by God. Our Substitute has fully satisfied the claims of the law.
• There was no sin in Him: “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (1 Jn. 3:5).
However, by coming into the
world in human form, He resembled sinful humanity. He gave Himself for a sacrifice for sin, and as such, Christ condemned sin in the flesh. He died not only for the sins which we commit—“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18), but also for our sin nature. In other words, He died for what we are just as much as, for what we have done. In so doing, He condemned sin in the flesh—condemned it to lose its power over men. God’s condemnation against sin was fully poured out on the sinless flesh of Christ. “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken” (Is. 53:4-8).
Our sin nature is never said to be forgiven; it is condemned. The sins that we have committed are what is forgiven.
God…sending—the “sending” is that the Lord went from the glory which He had with the Father into the world, by way of the 5
Incarnation. So in John 3:17, Jesus was God the Son in relationship to God the Father, when He was sent and came into the world. He did not become the Son of God at His incarnation. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17).
His own Son—this phrase expresses not simply the closeness and dearness of the relationship between the Father and the Son, but the greatness and power of the person God sent, and this is what is set in contrast to the weakness of the Law.
in the likeness of sinful flesh—the flesh stands for the human body, which in man has become the seat of indwelling sin. Jesus Christ took true human flesh from the Virgin Mary, His Mother. The flesh which Christ came in, was the same as the flesh of any man, except His was not sinful, for He “knew no sin” (II Cor. 5:21). He was a true man, but His human nature was protected and preserved from the indwelling principle of sin that has plagued all human beings since Adam. That is the difference between Christ and those He came to save; He was sinless, but man cannot be.
on account of sin—God provided our 6
atonement by offering the person of Jesus Christ.
He condemned sin in the flesh,—this has been understood in various ways. The preceding verses would lead us to understand the phrase “in the flesh” as referring to the fact that Christ, having taken human nature (but not the fallen nature), and having lived a sinless life, died under the judgment that was due to our sin. God, therefore, condemned sin both by the sinless life of Christ (not that Christ bore our sins in His life, but that His life was an absolute condemnation of sin) and then in the crucifixion and death of His own Son.
Sin has been condemned, but it has not been removed, in spite of the belief of some very sincere people. These bodies are to be redeemed—“…raised a spiritual body…” (1 Cor. 15:44). Today, the Holy Spirit is the Deliverer from sin in the body.
(Romans 5:20; NKJV): "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,"
Moreover the law -- "The law, however." The Jew might say, If the whole purposes of God towards men center in Adam and Christ, where does "the law" come in, and what was the use of it? Answer: It entered -- But the word expresses an important idea besides "entering." It signifies, "entered incidentally," or "parenthetically." (In Ga 2:4 the same word is rendered, "came in privily.") The meaning is, that the promulgation of the law at Sinai was no primary or essential feature of the divine plan, but it was "added" (Ga 3:19) for a subordinate purpose -- the more fully to reveal the evil occasioned by Adam, and the need and glory of the remedy by Christ.