Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
January 8, 2017
3 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:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 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:
4 that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace:
7 because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be:
8 and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
- I. Another "For".
- A. Paul's reasoning is running into the details.
- 1. There is no condemnation, "for...".
- 2. The Law of The Spirit of The Life in Christ Jesus has set us free, "for...".
- B. Our "freedom" from The Law of The Sin and The Death is rooted in Paul's "...The God...".
- 1. Since our bondage to The Law of The Sin began with Adam, our freedom began with "...The God, having sent "His Own Son", Who condemned The Sin.
- 2. At issue is the reality that "The Sin" was a fundamental corruption of humanity at both a spiritual and a genetic level and "The Spirit of The Life" inserts a new "fundamental" that incipiently grows out of the bare seed into a full orbed experience of "The Life".
- a. The fundamental corruption, whatever it actually is, affects humanity at one pivotal point: The Disbelief (this is the description of fallen man in Ephesians 2:2).
- b. The fundamental restoration, accomplished by The Spirit of The Life, likewise affects men at one pivotal point: The Faith.
- C. The Specific "Target" of The God's activity.
- 1. Paul calls this "target" "The Impossibility of The Law".
- a. The translation is specifically, "That [which was] impossible out of The Law...".
- b. This effectively removes "possibility" out of the reach of the fundamental character of The Law, as it is used deceptively by The Sin: the Demand/Perform reality of God revealing what is "demanded" by His own character and then levied upon men as necessity.
- 2. The problem: The Law was "weak" through The Flesh.
- a. The problem boils down to this: all who act do so according to their essential character.
- b. God is essentially "holy" in every aspect of all that is God.
- c. The children of Adam are essentially "sinners" in every aspect of all that are generated by that original "Sinner".
- d. The twain shall never meet in harmony unless there is an essential change of character.
- 1) God cannot change because He is, by very definition, immutable.
- 2) Man cannot change because he lacks the capacity to institute "character change": the tree must be good to produce good fruit and "change for the better" is, definitely, good fruit.
- 3) Thus, man must be changed by Someone beyond himself. He must become a "new" creature/creation.
- C. The Specific "Action" of The God.
- 1. He sent His own Son.
- 2. The specific character of this "Son" is described as "in the likeness of sinful flesh".
- a. The automatic question that arises is this: in exactly what sense was this "Son" "like" sinful flesh?
- 1) The word translated "likeness" is used six times in the New Testament. In some cases, the "likeness" is a "visual likeness" (a stone image of a bird that "looks like" a bird). This means that the "Son" would have a "visual" likeness to humanity (a body that looks like every other typical human body).
- 2) In other cases, the word signals the "likeness" to be "having the exact characteristics" of the thing to which the "likeness" points (Romans 5:14; "sins" that do not share the same exact characteristic of Adam's "sin"). This means that the "Son" could have a deeper connection than simply a visible similarity of form (if this is Paul's meaning).
- 3) In the theology of the New Testament (especially the birth narratives of the Christ), this "Son" was an exact sharer in Mary's DNA, but not an exact sharer in any "man's" DNA. What was conceived in her was "of the Holy Spirit" (a DNA that He created). This means that this "Son" was not in the likeness of sinful flesh at least at the point of being a sharer in Adam's DNA except as that DNA was filtered through Mary (a filtering that disallows the woman to pass on the actual genetically modified DNA of a "sinner").
- 4) So, in what sense did this "Son" come in the "likeness of sinful flesh"?
- a) Jesus, in every way that affects "visual appearances", was "like" every other human being that has the typical, normal human appearance.
- b) Jesus also, however, was "like" human flesh in that His flesh had the same basic incapacities that Adam had before Genesis 3. In other words, Adam was a creature, not a Creator, a man, not a God, a creature with a great host of "less than deity" characteristics. Thus, in this "likeness" this "Son" had to exercise what capacities He did have to compensate for those He did not have (in the absence of omniscience, He had to resort to prayer to find out what He could not know otherwise).
- c) The point: creatures, by definition, lack the "infinity" of divine characteristics; they have "knowledge", but are not "omniscient"; they have "power", but are not omnipotent; etc. Thus, without the comprehensiveness of infinite love and wisdom, they must function by "faith" in what their Creator gives them. A failure of "faith" will inescapably lead to a failure of "godliness"; i.e., "sin". Jesus was "like" sinful flesh in that He possessed the same endemic weaknesses of a creature and was liable to the possible violation of unbelief. Before the fall, "flesh" was not "sinful"; afterwards it was inescapably so.
- b. God sent His own Son "concerning sin".
- 1) It was the irruption of "sin" in the human race that raised the entire issue of the need for God to "send" His Son.
- 2) But this "need" only existed because God wished to "redeem" what was lost by sin. So, He sent His Son to address the "sin" problem.
- c. God sent His own Son to "condemn" sin in the flesh.
- 1) He addressed, through His Son, the problem of the failure of "faith" and made it possible for men to live in the flesh without "sin" as a failure of faith.
- 2) This "condemnation" was the outworking of His "judgment" that Christ had fully succeeded in His constancy of faith and means that the sin issue has been relegated to a non-issue for all those who "believe".