The Righteous Requirement of the Gospel

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 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 (Rm. 8:1-4).

In some ways, the Roman Road basis of evangelism has been both a blessing and curse to American Christianity. For on the one hand, the Romans Road has taken verses that are fundamental to the Faith and has made them well known to many, and yet, on the other hand, it has taken those same verses and ripped them from their contexts and has in the process watered down the Gospel.

For while it is indeed true that, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (v. 6:23), the verse taken from its context removes the very foundation of eternal life, namely regeneration and sanctification. For v. 6:23 is the apex of the apostle’s chain of salvific events that begins with identification with Christ in his crucifixion by baptism (v. 6:2), the freedom afforded by Christ’s death from the body of sin (v. 6:6; cf. v. 7:23) and thus from slavery to sin (v. 6:6; cf. v. 7:14, 25), and ends with the Christian’s being brought into slavery to obedience, to righteousness, and to sanctification, and sanctification’s end–eternal life (v. 6:16, 18, 19, 22). For the gift of God indeed is eternal life in Christ Jesus, however eternal life never comes apart from obedience, righteousness, and sanctification.

For the requirement of God for salvation has never changed–one must be obedient and righteous (cf. 1Pet. 1:13-16). And the great hindrance that exists is not the law (as Romans 7 expounds upon thoroughly), but it man’s inability to be righteous while a slave to sin and fleshly (v. 7:14, 18, 25). The fleshly speaker of Romans 7 puts it this way, “I have the desire to do what is right [so that I might have life (cf. 7:10)], but not the ability to carry it out” (v. 7:18; cf. 8:7). For even the Gentile who does not have the written code knows that he must be obedient and righteous to obtain life, and he will stand condemned for his rebellion against the law written upon his heart (cf. 2:12, 14-16). Therefore, for any man to obtain to eternal life, he must be set free from his natural slavery to sin and death, for apart from that freedom he will remain condemned in his body of death (cf. 6:6; 7:24).

Thus we find Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Why? Because a prayer was uttered? Because a sacrament was taken? Because a gift was accepted? No. Because, “The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (v. 8:2). The very basis of our condemnation’s removal is our freedom from our past slavemasters who kept us from obedience to God (cf. 7:18). How was this accomplished? “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” (v. 8:3). God did it. God accomplished it. God fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law by sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh–the same flesh that was powerless to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law (cf. vv. 7:14-25)–and Christ did it, fully and perfectly. For what end? So that we could continue in sin that grace might abound? By no means! So that “the righteous requirement of the law might fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (cf. 8:4).

Therefore, the end of the Gospel is that we who could not fulfill the righteous requirement of the law can now fulfill it through the emancipating work of Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. For Christ has taken those who were dead and has made them alive (v. 6:13), and has made them a new creature so that they who were once unable to do what they desired to do so that they might live (cf. v. 7:18), can now do it. There is now no inability for those who are in Christ. There is no slavery (v. 8:2), there is no death, there is no body of sin that controls our lives (cf. 6:6, 7; 7:21), there is only the Spirit of life by whose power we put to death the deeds of the body (v. 8:13) and inherit eternal life. That is the Gospel, and that is what God has done.



Categories: Theology

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