This chapter and any explanation of the salvation of God mean nothing from an intellectual approach. Paul doesn’t go deeply into the cross and Calvary because he has done that already for the Roman believers and this epistle is reiterating to them the nuts and bolts of the structure of salvation.
Therefore I would like to revisit the cross as revealed in the powerful 53rd chapter of Isaiah:
“He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.” Vs. 2. God sent His only beloved Son, as a tender plant, One in whom was no sin and in whom God was well pleased. The infinitely deep and tender ties between Them both, we will never fully comprehend. But God has allowed us to taste of that divine Parent/Child bond when He gave us the natural love for our earthly children.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Vs. 3,4. Until now, this prophecy describes the human rejection and abuse of the Son of God which tore at His heart.
We are all co-offenders together of Jesus, co-offenders, whether Christian or athiest; for all have sinned and harmed the soul of their Maker. Yet, the Father brought an unfathomable burden upon Christ. It was terrible to His soul that we rejected Him, but His highest love was for His Father, who also must reject Him. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Vs. 5. The bitterness of sin, that “wrath of God” abiding on us (Jn. 3:36), which causes us no rest day nor night (Rev. 14:11), the chastisement of our peace due to the separation from God caused by sin crashed upon His head like the fire that consumed Elijah’s evening sacrifice.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Vs. 6. “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief…. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” Vs. 10,11. It pleased God to destroy His Son. To save us? What kind of God is this? What value system does He have? What are we that He should do this for us? Are we so needful for His own heart’s peace that He would make His own beloved Son pass through the damnation for high treason? Is the race of corrupt humans so valuable to Him that He should spend all His wrath upon sin, heap all of His pent-up fury and frustration and sorrow which sin has caused Him and His immense creation, upon His only Son rather than upon the billions of corrupt rebels on this raging planet in rebellion? Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.
When Jesus went into Gethsemane, He knew how high the stakes were, how much was weighing in the balances. He only could complete the atonement, He alone knew how much would be lost if the sacrifice wasn’t good enough. It must satisfy the infinite God
. It must satisfy every nuance in the claims and every insinuation in the charges brought, or that could ever be brought, against His character and reputation. This never to be repeated event must endure throughout eternity. Only the Son of God could accomplish this, only the Son could cooperate with the Father’s omniscient remedy to the great controversy. Only He understood the mystery strategy against the arch rebel, his allegations and hidden accusations. Only Christ could endure the omnipotent wrath of His beloved Father. “By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.” Vs.11.
In the midst of infernal soul darkness, wracked by a total barrage of physical pain, and surrounded by every disguised and open temptation Satan could muster, Jesus announced the charter of the atonement, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:34). His sacrifice was enough. He could have fallen under the heavy load, He could have proven Satan’s claim true, that it is impossible to obey God’s will; but Jesus succeeded, even under the harshest conditions. He became obedient unto death. “When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” Vs. 10.
“By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” vs. 11,12.
Christ’s victory cry, “It is finished,” echoed and re-echoed in the vast heavenly throne. It passed from mouth to mouth throughout illimitable space. The Father is proven trustworthy! His reputation is proven clean! When He justifies the ungodly, He will be trusted by His faithful universe and be considered just for doing so. He who knows the heart and thoughts of His creation can accept true repentance from humbled rebels and forgive them. He can take sinners and rehabilitate them by His grace without damaging His demand of perfect obedience from the rest of unfallen creation, and perfectly restore a lost world to that perfect obedience.
“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:11-13).
“A seed shall serve Him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this.” (Ps. 22:30,31).Effect of Christ’s Propitiation
The following is a commentary on the 8th chapter of Romans:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
“Therefore now” speaks of resolution to the preceding chapter’s futile exercises of the unconverted heart to obey God’s law. “…no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” speaks of justification and says that justification forms the only foundation of sanctification (walking “after the Spirit.”) Thus, at the outset of Paul’s treatise on victory over sin, he makes true obedience firmly dependent on reconciliation with God and His Law.2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
The power that reconciliation with God in Christ brings, automatically and immediately releases the sinner from his old human efforts to manufacture righteousness. All the distress was killing him, and he happily gives it up. This is a recap on Paul’s statement in chapter 7, “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (vs. 6.) His newfound faith in a living, loving Jesus puts energy into the mind and soul and body of the rebel-turned-child of God.
When the sinner surrenders to the pressure of the Holy Spirit, he sorrows for his sin and hatefully turns away from it. Thus, the sinner reconciles with God; God no longer is the enemy, but a wonderful Counselor.
“When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature.” (Desire of Ages, p. 324.)3
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.
In the extreme justice brought to bear upon the Son of God who on the cross was treated as sin, the wrath of God against sin, unmixed with even the slightest mercy, indirectly destroys any loyalty we have toward sin. The more we go to the cross of Christ, the stronger will be our reticence toward presuming that God will license even the smallest sin. His anger spent on sin shakes us to the core. From the cross we see that there can never be any excuse for sin. He condemned sin.
We also see the inestimable mercy of God through His forcing the display of grace in the unshakable claim, which He knew was in His Son, to keep His beloved rebel world. Surely, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.
“In this life we can only begin to understand the wonderful theme of redemption. With our finite comprehension we may consider most earnestly the shame and the glory, the life and the death, the justice and the mercy, that meet in the cross; yet with the utmost stretch of our mental powers we fail to grasp its full significance.” (Great Controversy, p. 651).
“When we study the divine character in the light of the cross we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice. We see in the midst of the throne One bearing in hands and feet and side the marks of the suffering endured to reconcile man to God. We see a Father, infinite, dwelling in light unapproachable, yet receiving us to Himself through the merits of His Son. The cloud of vengeance that threatened only misery and despair, in the light reflected from the cross reveals the writing of God: Live, sinner, live! ye penitent, believing souls, live! I have paid a ransom.
In the contemplation of Christ we linger on the shore of a love that is measureless. We endeavor to tell of this love, and language fails us.” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 333, 334).4
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
“The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan. But unless we do yield ourselves to the control of Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not co-operate with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart, and will make it his abiding place. The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin.” (Desire of Ages, p. 324).5
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
That is, those who follow after the flesh have never reconciled, or have lost that reconciliation they once had, with God through the work He did in Christ.6
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.7
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
“Every soul that refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power. He is not his own. He may talk of freedom, but he is in the most abject slavery. He is not allowed to see the beauty of truth, for his mind is under the control of Satan. While he flatters himself that he is following the dictates of his own judgment, he obeys the will of the prince of darkness. Christ came to break the shackles of sin-slavery from the soul. ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ sets us ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ Romans 8:2.” (Desire of Ages, p. 466).8
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Even the slightest work of obedience without the reconciliation cannot satisfy the infinite God. The only thing that is acceptable to God is the human heart reconciled to Him.9
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.10
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
That nature which longed for sin is dead; now the divine nature brings new life to disinterested love and righteousness.11
But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.
When we see the wrath of God against sin, our spirits die with the crucified One. But when we see Christ’s longing to keep us with Himself for eternity, regardless of His Father’s terror on Him for embracing us, when we see His sacrifice has satisfied God and we see Him raised from the tomb and ascended to be our intercessor forever, we are revived from the damnation at the crucifixion.12
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.13
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
“In the work of redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan’s control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God.” (Desire of Ages, p. 466).
So long as we retain an unrenewed heart, we are dying. Our life habits are sapping the soul, mind, and body of life. But if we walk in reconciliation and reconnection with God through justification ministered to us by the work of the Spirit of God, we have the power to rid our daily life of it’s old practices; we will have life and health, and that more abundantly.14
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.15
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.16
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” (1Jn 3:19-21).17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.18
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Phil. 3:10-11).19
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Are we patiently waiting and groaning for a world and body without sin?20
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope,21
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.22
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
“The whole family in heaven.” (Eph. 3:15).23
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.24
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?25
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.26
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
This is a work within us, as Paul wrote above, “we…groan within ourselves.” vs. 23.27
And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
The love to God that attends justification brings with it the love to obey Him and to keep His commandments. Commandment keeping and allegiance to the authority of the Law of God will always characterize true justification and will be the test of its validity.
“He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” (1Jn. 2:4-6).
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”(2Cor. 13: 5).29
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.30
Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.
If we were justified, then we must have been called, predestinated to be conformed into His image, foreknown, and be on our way to glorification (the grand finale of our redemption). But it’s possible to lose our right standing with God through justification. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16:15). Let us keep our robe of righteousness tightly around us and not shame ourselves and our Lord. If the salt has lost its savor, let us repugnantly throw it out, whole-heartedly trample it under foot, and then go get some new salt and be re-justified.31
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?32
He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is a higher judge than God? Who can condemn if God has justified and obedience to His Law is the fruit in the life? If our justification is current, then in spite of the references to our past by others, we can safely forget “those things which are behind,” and reach forth “unto those things which are before,” pressing “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14).34
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.35
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36
As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.37
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.38
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,39
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.