Justification by faith

The gospel and traffic fines

traffic fineI hate getting traffic fines.  I really hate it because it’s such an avoidable expense.  The worst thing is to get back from a good holiday and then get a R500 fine in the post for speeding.  However, you check the photo in the fine, you see that it was indeed you, it was indeed your car and you were indeed speeding. (Please, no judgement!)  You put your pride to one side, you go on to, you pay the a fine, you pay the righteous requirement of the law.

Now that the fine is paid, you no longer need to pay it, you can’t be re-fined for the same offence, you have settled the debt, your conscience is clear and you have no fear of roadblocks or being summoned to court.

The Apostle Paul says that this is what, spiritually speaking, has happened to all those who put their faith in Jesus.  The righteous requirement of God’s law has been fulfilled and the fine has been paid – the good news is that we didn’t have to pay the fine because someone else paid it for us.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Notice that only those in Christ Jesus are not condemned.  This passage in the Bible is directed toward Christian people.  If you are not a Christian, I hope you will pay much attention and then decide to become a Christian yourself.

Notice that there is a “therefore” in v1. The fact that for Christians there is now no condemnation is a restatement of the central truth of this letter.  Once we were condemned, we had broken God’s law, we rebelled against God in all kinds of ways, we tried to run our own lives, we worshipped and served creation rather the Creator, and we were rightly under the condemnation and judgement of God.

But now the condemnation is removed.  

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death… (Romans 8:2)

The Law of the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death.  What are these two laws? The “law of sin and death” is the law or principle that sin leads to and brings death.  Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death”.  Therefore, the “law of the Spirit of life” must equal the gospel.   It is the gospel, as Paul has explained, that frees us from the power and penalty of sin and death.  Sin leads to death, but the gospel of God that’s applied to us by the Spirit, frees us from the power of sin and death.

How has God done that?  If the law says sin deserves death and we all sin; how has God freed us of that law?

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. (Romans 8:3)

If you obey God’s law perfectly you will live.  But no-one can do that as our sin and rebellion towards God keeps us from keeping God’s law.  God’s Law can’t give life because our “flesh” prevents it from doing so.  But, according to v3, God has now done what the law could not do.  How did God do that?

By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin… (Romans 8:3)

God sent Jesus in the “likeness of sinful flesh”. Notice that God did not send Jesus “in sinful flesh”.  We know that Jesus came as a human being, but he did not share in our fallen nature and was without sin; otherwise he could not die for the sin of others.  Notice that God did not send Jesus as an angel, but in the “likeness of sinful flesh”.  Jesus came as a fully human being, not as a spirit or angel or ghost.

God sent Jesus for sin, to deal with sin, as a sacrifice for sin.  And the result was:

… he condemned sin in the flesh…(Romans 8:3)

The law of sin and death was dealt a death-blow.  How?

…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. (Romans 8:4)

We owed a fine for breaking God’s law.  The fine was infinitely worse than a traffic fine.  The fine was death and eternal separation from God.   But Jesus paid the fine – he died and thereby paid the righteous requirement of the law – so that the requirement is now “fulfilled in us” (v4).

Think about this for a moment.

If we have put our faith in Christ we can be sure there is now no condemnation from God.

It’s not as if God will say one day when we stand before him, “By the way Andre, that thing you did when no-one was watching…” 

Perhaps you had an abortion, or sinned sexually in a terrible way, or abused someone else and cannot get past it, or maybe someone has abused you and you have felt condemned your entire life?

Dear Christian, Jesus has fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law for you so that you are now free from the law of sin and death and there is now and will always be NO CONDEMNATION.

What a glorious truth to deeply celebrate. 

Dear non-Christian friend, consider what a great thing it is to come to Christ.



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