“What the Law was powerless to do…God did by sending His own Son…in order that the requirement of the law might be fully met in us,…who walk according to the Spirit.” Romans 8.3-4
If God did for us what the Law required then why are so many believers still so attached to the Law for living the Christian life? Isn’t our insistence on trying to keep the law an expression of unbelief in light of what Paul tells us in these verses?
When put into the context of Romans 7.14-8.7, these verses are vital to Paul’s own testimony. As the Pharisee, Saul, he was an all in law-man ( see Philippians 3.4-6). His life before Christ was all about doing what the Law required of him. And he proved to be very capable of doing so given the stature he attained in 1st century Judaism (Acts 8-9).
But once Saul became Paul, once his mind was renewed by God, and he understood who Jesus was and what his incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection meant, he realized that his Law based performance was worth a load of used toilet paper. Paul saw that in the light of Jesus’ completed works all the Law could accrue for him was an ever-increasing certificate of debt against him. He realized that all his religious accolades only gave him cause for pride and self-righteousness yet what he needed was the very righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Even after he became the apostle to the Gentiles, his inclination was to rely on his Law-trained flesh. That is when he began to see how insufficient his own law based performance was: he tried to avoid wrong, and he failed. He tried to do good, and he failed. But he became enlightened.
What did he learn? He learned, among other things, “what the Law is powerless to do.” It is powerless to make us righteous either before Christ or after Christ. He learned that he must redirect his mind from the Law and from the self to the Spirit.
It just seems to be the time that we actually begin to believe that if God did it, then we need to believe that he did it and that we do not have to do it. The Law is about US doing it. The Cross is about God doing it for us through Jesus Christ. God did it.
I think we may not believe Jesus did enough if we keep thinking that we need this attachment to the Law. Paul suggests something else for us to be attached to, the Spirit. And I’m beginning to wonder if we believe in the Spirit! If God did it then the Spirit will do it as well. Let’s believe it.