The Atonement in Romans 8

I spent the last week giving a brief overview of the teaching of Romans on the atonement. I will today turn to Romans 8. This is one of the most glorious chapters of the whole Bible, and much gain can be had from studying and memorizing the entire chapter. Today, we are interested only in the first few verses.

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. (Romans 8:1-4)

Once again we see certain aspects of penal substitutionary atonement clearly outlined here. Our problem is presented as condemnation. It is not merely the condemnation of others — it is God’s condemnation that is the problem. We see that God, who in this sense poses a problem to us, also provides the solution. He sends His Son — no mere passive God being persuaded by His Son to relent. He sends His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, but then, in one further step, He condemns sin in the flesh. How much clearer does Paul need to get for us to grasp this? The condemnation was done to Jesus so that we might become righteous. What glorious truth this is. We don’t merely get told to pretend we are not guilty to cover up our sin. No, we are told, “You are guilty,” but another has born your guilt that your condemnation, both subjectively and objectively, can be removed. What a wonderful Gospel! What glorious news! Why would anyone want to twist and neuter this fantastic truth?

To be continued . . .

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