In my last post I dwelt upon that great privilege, that great declaration that the Judge of all the earth makes regarding His elect – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In Christ Jesus this privilege is ours. It is a gift. I cannot boast. I didn’t earn it. I don’t deserve it. The resolving of my enmity with God, the securing of my guiltlessness before Him, the removal of my condemnation is the work of Christ, not the work of Lori.
Thy works, not mine, O Christ, speak gladness to this heart; they tell me all is done; they bid my fear depart. To whom, save Thee, who canst alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?
Thy pains, not mine, O Christ, upon the shameful tree, have paid the law's full price and purchased peace for me. To whom, save Thee, who canst alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?
They cross, not mine, O Christ, has borne the awful load of sins that none in heav'n or earth could bear but God. To whom, save Thee, who canst alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?
Thy righteousness, O Christ, alone can cover me: no righteousness avails save that which is of Thee. To whom, save Thee, who canst alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?
(Horatius Bonar, 1857)
O, but the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (vs 2). The covenant of works will undo us, the covenant of grace will recreate us. We were in bondage to sin and death under the first covenant. In the covenant of grace we are given new life – it is the law of the Spirit of life – and we are set free to live and walk and serve in the newness of that life.
Mr. Henry points out several things from verse 3 that are helpful and heart stirring.
1. How Christ appeared: "In the likeness of sinful flesh". It is important to note that Christ appeared in the “likeness” of sinful flesh. He was not sinful. No, He is the spotless Lamb, the High Priest without sin. He is the only One who has ever perfectly fulfilled the Law. He appeared in the “likeness” of sinful flesh. “He took upon Him that nature which was corrupt, though perfectly abstracted from the corruptions of it. It was great condescension that He who was God should be made in the likeness of flesh; but much greater that He who was holy should be made in the likeness of sinful flesh.”
And for what purpose? What possible reason could there be for the Holy One to come in the likeness of sinful ones? He came “as an offering for sin.” He came as an offering for my sin. It was “impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (He 10:4). No, “by this we have been sanctified - through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all "(He 10:10).
Not all the blood of beasts on Jewish altars slain,could give this guilty conscience peace, or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb, takes all our sins away,a sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they.
My faith would lay her hand on that dear head of Thine, while like a penitent I stand, and there confess my sin.
My soul looks back to see the burdens Thou didst bear, when hanging on the cursed tree, and knows my guilt was there.
Believing, we rejoice to see the curse removed; we bless the Lamb with cheerful voice, and sing his bleeding love.
2. What was done by this appearance: “sin was condemned.” Henry writes, “For all that are Christ’s both the damning and the domineering power of sin is broken. Though it live and remain, its life in the saints is still but like that of a condemned malefactor. The condemning of sin saved the sinner from condemnation. Christ was made sin for us.” There is therefore now no condemnation for Lori because Christ was condemned in my place. He satisfied for my sin. Surely my griefs He bore and my sorrows wore. He was pierced through for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities and by His wounds I am healed! Selah!
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him.”
(2 Co 5:21)
Jesus, thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress; ‘midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in Thy great day; for who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully absolved through these I am from sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
When from the dust of death I rise to claim my mansion in the skies, e’vn then this shall be all my plea, Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.
Jesus, be endless praise to Thee, whose boundless mercy hath for me-for me a full atonement made, and everlasting ransom paid.
O let the dead now hear Thy voice; now bid thy banished ones rejoice; their beauty this, their glorious dress, Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.
Nicholaus Ludwig von