The Apostle Paul’s message in Romans 8:1-11 is of reassurance, relief and joy. We have worked our way through the first seven chapters, and now Paul summarises his message so far: there is no condemnation for you – even if you disobey God – even when you disobey God! – if you are in Christ Jesus.
The bad news of the Bible is that human beings, without exception, have failed to trust God’s goodness; and as a result the perfect harmonious relationship described in Genesis 1 and 2 is fractured, and we have rightly earned God’s anger and rejection. The extraordinary, astonishing good news of the Bible is that God hasn’t given up on us; his love for us is so strong, so unwavering, that he has made a way for us to be restored not only to peace with him, but to the status of beloved sons and daughters.
How did this inconceivable transformation take place? God sent his Son, in the likeness of human flesh; as human flesh, he became a sin offering for us – each of us was represented by him; all of our offences were held against him, judged in him, condemned in him, and the penalty for them all was paid in him.
God condemned human sin in Christ’s human flesh, and so fulfilled the requirement of the law. The old law of sin, that prompted us to offend against God and so condemned us to death, has been overpowered by the new law of the Spirit – God’s Spirit, who now lives in us. The Spirit sets us free, and prompts us to delight in God’s commands, to recognise their rightness and goodness, and that is how we fulfil his good and wholesome requirement.
So even though we know (as Paul described in Chapter 7) that for now sin is still living in us, waging war against our Spirit-led inner selves, and these physical bodies will keep tiring, sagging, sickening and dying; yet we also know that God raised Jesus from death to life, and his Spirit in us assures us that he will also restore life to us – not only to our souls, but also to our physical bodies.
- Katie Peken