Jewels from Romans #12

Romans 8:3-6

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
(ESV)

Why was the Law not all that we needed in order to please God? After all, in Psalm 19, we read the following verses which pertain to the Law of God:

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
(ESV)

It seems to me from these verses in Psalm 19 that the Law is everything we need to gain a right standing before God and to live a righteous life. The Law revives the soul. God’s testimony gives us wisdom. God’s precepts bring joy. The rules of the Lord show us the way to righteousness. So then, why is the Law not everything we need?

Paul answers this question for us in Romans 8:3-4 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (ESV) There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Law. The problem is with our flesh. Paul tells us that the Law is weakened, not because it has some inherent flaw, but by our flesh. More specifically, the problem is with the sin that had dominion over our flesh. The Law has failed to make us righteous in either a spiritual way or a practical way. No one is able to obtain a right standing before God by obeying the Law, and no one is able to live a daily life of righteousness by obeying the Law. And the problem is not with the Law, the problem is with us, because we sin.

But what the Law could not do, Jesus Christ could do. Jesus Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh. He had a human body just like you and me. However, since Jesus was also God, He was able to live a sinless life in his body, and by his crucifixion He condemned sin. Jesus appeased the requirements of the Law on our behalf. When the righteousness of Jesus is imputed to us, the end result is just as if we had lived a life in complete obedience to the Law.

But notice I said that there were two problems with the Law. First, the Law was not able to impute righteousness to us so that we can have a right standing before God. But second, the Law could not also empower us to live a daily life exhibiting righteousness. Paul deals with this second issue in Romans 8:5-6 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV) Allow me to ask you a personal question here: What is your relationship to your flesh? Is your mind set on the things of the flesh, that is, do you live your life paying constant attention to fulfilling the desires of your flesh? If the true answer to this question is “Yes”, then you have your mind set on death. But if your mind is set on the things of the Spirit, then your mind is set on life.

Let’s keep reading in Romans chapter 8.

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
(ESV)

What is a “carnal Christian”? The term itself is an oxymoron according to the doctrine of the book of Romans. It is more than an oxymoron, it is an impossibility. Romans 8:7-9 tells us four facts about a person whose mind is set on the flesh, fulfilling the desires thereof:

· First, the person whose mind is set on the flesh is hostile to God. Only a life lived after the Spirit is at peace with God.

· Second, the person whose mind is set on the flesh will not and cannot submit to God’s Law.

· Third, the person whose mind is set on the flesh cannot please God.

· And fourth, the person whose mind is set on the flesh does not have the Spirit of Christ in them, and therefore does not belong to Jesus Christ.

Do these four things describe a “carnal Christian”? No, of course not. These four things describe the state of the majority of people in this world, and, unfortunately, a majority of people who think they are in the church today. These four things describe the mind of an unbeliever who is hostile to God. I recently had a pastor lament to me that he was disappointed with his congregation because after a time of worship, singing, prayer, and studying God’s word, the first thing the people did was talk about football. Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh.

So, allow me to ask you my question again: What is your relationship to your flesh?

By Berean Husband

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