“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did …” Romans 8:3-4.
God had given His people the law that was to help and guide them to do the good. But it was impossible for the law to make anyone who served God perfect in regard to the conscience; it could not take away sins. (Hebrews 7:19; Hebrews 9:9-10; Hebrews 10:1-4) The law was a great help. The saints of old who lived according to it obtained great blessings, but none of them led them to perfection. Therefore, we read that the law was weak and useless, and a better hope was brought in through which we can draw near to God.
This better hope which we have now, is that everything can become perfect. In this hope we can draw near to God. However, there are only very few who have this hope living for them when they seek God. To become perfect? Just about everyone says that’s impossible! As long as a person is under the law, it is impossible; but what was impossible, God did! Many say, “Jesus fulfilled the law for us, so now grace covers our life regardless of how weak and sinful we might be, and God sees us through Jesus who is perfect.” However, in Romans 8:4 we read, “That the righteous requirement of the law [that which was its real intention but which it could not do] might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” It is not something that was just fulfilled in Jesus and is now imputed to us; it shall also be fulfilled in our walk. Cross out the word “impossible” and replace it with “possible.” Jesus has brought in that better hope.
“For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:13-14.
The sacrifices that the law required served only for the forgiveness for committed sins. They could not advance any further than the external cleansing of the vessel, which was an outward righteousness they knew they did not possess inwardly. (Matthew 23:28) They could do much good according to the law, but there was no inward transformation. It was not perfect. The result was only dead works.
The Son partook of flesh and blood
The law was weak and useless as far as man’s flesh was concerned. Sin had permeated the flesh and kept man captive. Therefore, God sent His Son who partook of flesh and blood as the children. (Hebrews 2:14) And through Him the impossible became possible. Then we can attain to perfection. A transformation occurs in our inner man. Forgiveness through the blood of goats, which hadn’t overcome any sin, couldn’t give the sinner victory either. People sinned over and over again, which is why they continually had to bring the same sacrifices, which constantly reminded them of their sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4) Jesus encountered sin, but He overcame it; therefore, His blood is so much more effective. He can also give victory over all sin so that everything is put into order according to the light we have.
Most people pray to be forgiven when they receive light about sin in their life, but they think it is impossible to change. Others have faith that it is possible to change some things, however, they still believe it is impossible to put everything in order. Yet God be praised, we have received the good tidings of proclaiming to the upright that what was impossible has now become possible. Therefore, we have the exhortation, “Leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection …” Hebrews 6:1. Paul forgot the things that were behind him and he reached out for perfection. He did not do this in his ignorance; it was the knowledge of Christ that had given him this hope and this zeal.
It is so difficult for people to lay hold of this “better hope” because they do not want to renounce their gain according to the flesh. We cannot go on to perfection and at the same time seek gain for the flesh. That is impossible; but it is possible to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires in the Spirit of Christ and be perfect according to the conscience.
God’s will be done
Jesus said, “‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me … Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me—to do Your will, O God.’” Hebrews 10:5-10.
God did not desire sacrifices and offerings, but rather that His will be done. Nevertheless, that was impossible in the law. Therefore, Jesus came with a body. He abolished the first, namely, all the sacrifices, and established the second, namely, to do God’s will. We, too, sense that that is the perfect thing to do. Jesus’ body was sacrificed by doing the Father’s will.
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body …” 1 Corinthians 12:13. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. Those who have received the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit which has crucified the flesh with its passions and desires and seeks the things that are above, not the things on the earth, they are only in this world to do God’s will. They have forsaken everything and hate even their own life; they are the church and the body of Christ. Their bodies are presented as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice to God.
It is not bondage to keep God’s commandments for us who have been baptized with one Spirit to be one body. For us the commandments are easy. We do not say that we shall do nothing. We testify of works all the time, about doing God’s will in whatever area we have received light, for by the Spirit of Christ we have become members of the body that came to do only God’s will. Those heavy and sad “impossibles” have vanished and a better hope has been brought in. We rejoice and are glad in doing all God’s will, which has now become “possible.”
This article is translated from Norwegian and is adapted from the original published in the BCC periodical “Skjulte Skatter” (“Hidden Treasures”) in December 1940.
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