Change your ‘status’ – Saturday, 29th week in ordinary time – Romans 8:1-10
At one time, a man’s station or status was fixed; often governed by society or by his profession. Today with lines blurred in society and made easier by social media, we find that our ‘status’ on Instagram or Facebook can be changed on a whim if not on a fancy. St Paul tells us that the only one that can truly change our ‘status’ is Christ; for as verse one tells us that in him there is no condemnation.
What does this mean? In Chapter 7:24 A question was asked, “Wretched man that I am! who will rescue me from this body of death? That questioned is answered in chapter 8. The answer is Christ! In him there in now NO condemnation. St Paul does not say that in Christ we have less condemnation but NO CONDEMNATION. Our standing or status has not improved in Jesus Christ, it has transformed in Jesus Christ. Our status has truly changed. Interestingly, Romans 8 begins with no condemnation; it ends with no separation, and in between there is no defeat. While Romans 8:1 tells us we are free from the guilt of sin, Romans 8:2 tells us we are free from the power of sin.
St Paul tells us that God did give us the law in the form of the decalogue. The law is good and it is true; St Paul does not deny it. For example, the law can guide us, teach us, and tell us about God’s character. But the law was weakened by sinful humanity, weakened by the flesh (verse 3) The law was meant to be a moral compass but sin destroyed and corrupted it and so God had to step in and ‘send his own Son’. Notice how strong those words are. St Paul does not say that the ‘Son of God’ was sent but rather that God ‘sent his own son; as though God had to intervene personally and step in immediately.
The law could not defeat sin; it could only detect sin. Only Jesus can defeat sin, and He did just that through His work on the cross. In order to defeat sin, Jesus had to identify with those bound by it. Jesus was not sinful flesh, but He identified with it entirely. He had to take on the likeness of sinful flesh and in doing that he became one with us in all things but sin so that he could enter our world and save us from sin.
Sin was condemned in the flesh of Jesus as He bore the condemnation we deserved. Since we are in Christ, the condemnation we deserve passes us over. Paul does not say that we fulfil the righteous requirement of the law. He carefully says that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us. It isn’t fulfilled by us, but in us. Simply put, Jesus is our substitute. Jesus was treated as a sinner so we can be treated as righteous.
Finally, St Paul tells us that God wants the Spirit to rule over our flesh. When we allow the flesh to reign over the Spirit, we find ourselves bound by the sinful patterns and desperation(verse 5). Hence the pattern of our life must be according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh. Paul gives an easy way for us to determine if we walk in the Spirit or walk in the flesh – to simply see where our mind is set. When our minds are set on the things of the flesh, we bring death into our lives. But walking in the Spirit brings life and peace. To sum up todays teaching; while the law given by Moses had right it had no might; sin’s law has might but not right BUT the law of the Spirit has both right and might.”