F. B. Hole.
(Extracted from Scripture Truth Vol. 13, 1921, page 182.)
The contrast between the seventh and eighth chapters of Romans is very pronounced. In Romans 7 the Spirit of God is not so much as mentioned; whereas Romans 8, brings Him in again and again — the first 27 verses are full of Him. The bearing of this is quite evident: all proper Christian life and experience is in the power and energy of the Spirit of God.
This being so, the old source of energy, the energy that characterized our unconverted days, stands condemned and counteracted.
Romans 8:2, names the old energy of our unconverted days, "the law of sin and death." It names the new energy that properly characterizes the Christian, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus"; and it asserts the superiority of the latter to the former. Let "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" but exert His "law" or "control," and the control of sin and death is broken. The superior law counteracts the inferior.
Then verse 3 gives the basis for this new control in the great act of God in the sacrifice of Christ when He "condemned sin in the flesh." "Sin in the flesh" was the old tyrant. We say tyrant advisedly, for the law of sin and death was tyranny indeed, as witness the miserable experiences of Romans 7, where the workings of its "law" are detailed for our instruction. There is no tyranny, thank God, in the new "law," for it is the law of a new life — "life in Christ Jesus" — and not only so but the law of the Spirit of that life.
Then has the believer two lives? Not from the Divine viewpoint. The new life is his on the basis of the condemnation of the old by God Himself in the sacrifice of Christ. "God … condemned sin in the flesh." The law could never do this. It could condemn very fully the man dominated by sin in the flesh, the man in whom it impersonated itself. God has condemned sin in the flesh — the very essence of the Adamic nature — and done it in such a way as to deliver the poor child of Adam who believes. This He did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as a sacrifice for sin. We turn to the cross, and in the sacrifice of Christ as bearing the judgment of sin we behold sin in the flesh condemned.
"Sin in the flesh" remember. The Lord Jesus was made flesh — holy flesh. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. Sin has invaded the angelic ranks, we learn; but sin in spirit-beings lies quite outside this verse.
Remember also that sin in the flesh is condemned and not forgiven. In the administration of human justice there may be forgiveness expressed in the remission of a sentence, yet even so the law maintains its condemnation of the lawless and criminal instincts from which the crime in question proceeded. Thus also it is in the administration of Divine justice, for the human in so far as it is good and right is but a feeble reflection of the Divine. The sacrifice of Christ truly provides the basis whereby forgiveness of offences may reach the believer righteously. It equally sets forth the Divine abhorrence and condemnation of the corrupt nature from which the offences sprang. "Sin in the flesh" — the very essence and nature of the life of fallen Adam and his race — is condemned.
And here are we believers "in Christ Jesus" as to our new position before God, and not in Adam at all! And not only have we this new place, this new standing, but we also have "life in Christ Jesus"; there is a new spring of life within as well as a new position without. And yet, further, we possess "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," and His law or control ensures that there shall be power to carry out the instincts and desires of the new life, even though the flesh and sin are still actually within us.
No wonder, then, that those "in Christ Jesus" are altogether clear of condemnation! The flesh and sin, still in them while yet dwelling here in mortal bodies, are indeed incorrigibly evil and merit nothing but the fullest condemnation; but in the sacrifice of Christ the Divine condemnation has fallen, and the believer in Christ Jesus is beyond it for ever. For us there is no condemnation. It has exhausted itself in the cross!
"Death and judgment are behind us,
Grace and glory are before;
All the billows rolled o'er Jesus,
There they spent their utmost power."
We can, indeed, exultingly speak of ourselves as "free, because beyond our doom."
While praising God for this, let us not, however, overlook verse 4 of our chapter, where the practical consequences of all this is shown. All is in order that those things which the law so righteously required, and never got, might now be fulfilled in us "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."
Find us a Christian who recognizes how God has condemned sin in the flesh at the cross, who ratifies that great act in his own soul, and consequently disowns the flesh in its activities, i.e., he does not walk according to it; and who also rejoices in the possession of the new life in Christ Jesus and the Spirit of that new life who is the power and energy of it, and consequently allows and delights in the Spirit's activities, i.e., he walks according to the Spirit; and we will at once show you a Christian who is fulfilling what He had so righteously required of men. Indeed we will show you one who is going beyond those requirements, for he is learning to walk as Christ walked — and that is a far higher standard than the law of Moses.