"...in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:4)
Are you righteous? If I was standing in front of you today and asked you this question, what would your answer be? Would it be yes? Would it be no? Would you know how to respond to this question? In order to live forever in the presence of God we must be righteous. We must be in right standing with him. Many believe to do this, we must follow the guidelines of the law. Religion has always taught us this principal, but Jesus told the religious in Matthew chapter 5, "that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" ( Matthew 5:20 ). The teachers of the law were undoubtedly well on their way to righteousness by the standards of men. But Jesus condemned them by saying they completely lacked the necessary righteousness to find salvation. In other words they could not live up to God's holy standard by obeying the law.
The beginning of yesterday's verse said the same thing, "... the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature..." ( Romans 8:3 ). The law was powerless to save anyone because the law demanded a righteousness that mankind defeated by the sin nature was incapable of. Paul has already gone over in detail throughout the book of Romans the purpose of the law. In Romans 3 he completely annihilates the argument that we could be justified by observing the law. "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin" ( Romans 3:19-20 ). First we see that the law silences us before God by taking away every defense we could make on our own behalf. Secondly we see that through the law we become conscious of sin . Lastly we see that we will never be declare righteous before God by observing the law because the law is powerless to save us.
If the law could never bring us into fellowship with God and yet to be in fellowship with God we need the righteousness that the law prescribes, is there hope? Yes, there is hope because Jesus fulfilled the law by living perfectly under it. He came in human form to fulfill the letter of the law. He accomplished everything that the law dictated. Because he accomplished it, the key to eternal life was his. He earned the righteousness that the law described, because he lived perfectly under it and sins power never broke him. He came with that purpose in mind ( Matthew 5:17-18 ). So our hope rests in him alone. Paul said in Romans 3, "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" ( Romans 3:21-24 ). What the law could not provide us, Jesus did. He took our sin, our shame upon himself and gave us his righteousness and his holiness as a free gift. This is called the law of substitution. II Corinthians 5 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" ( II Corinthians 5:21 ). So through faith in Jesus, we obtain the righteousness that the law prescribed that we were incapable of acquiring on our own through works of the law.
In other words we are justified by faith in Jesus alone. "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit" ( Romans 8:3-4 ). Paul finished up a glorious thought that even thought we were defeated and powerless by sin, God provide a way. Through Jesus we are righteous and justified before God. God sent Jesus so that we also could fulfilled the entire law by the righteousness that Jesus provided for us. Removing any barrier that sin and the sin nature put in our way. The only requirement is faith in Jesus. He provide the way and offered the gift of grace and when we respond to that gift is when the law is completely fulfilled in us. We are justified apart from works by faith alone ( Romans 3:28 ).
Faith dwells by the spirit not by the sinful nature. No longer are we subjected to our previous nature, it has been defeated and removed from us ( Romans 6:6-7 ). If we continue to walk the way of spirit there is no condemnation because we are not accused by the law. Our lives are not governed by the standards and dictates of the flesh but now we are controlled by and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. We are fashioned after Jesus in true righteousness and holiness ( Ephesians 4:24 )
So, if I stood before you today and asked you if you were righteous, you would know how to respond. As a born again believer your answer is a resounding yes! Jesus gave you His righteousness in order to fulfill the law that always accused you. Now since you are free from accusation before God, it is my prayer that you find boldness to fellowship with him in an intimate personal way. May you be blessed today by this revelation of grace and may you live your life worthy of your calling. Amen!