The Evangelical Universalist Forum

I need some light on Romans 8.3

I’m having trouble getting a real handle on this verse.

New International Version
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,

New Living Translation
The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

English Standard Version
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

Is to ‘condemn sin in the flesh’ the same as ‘ended sin’s control over us’?
I’d assumed that sin was ALREADY condemned. Since the beginning.

I’ll do my best:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

I suggest that the law of sin and death is “The soul that sins, it shall die.” I regard this as a spiritual death. But those who are in Christ will not partake of this spiritual death.

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.

The Israelites who were under the law were unable to keep the law since they could do nothing more than strive to fulfill it by mere self-effort. But God, through His enabling grace, made available through Christ, has made it possible for Christ’s disciples to fulfill that basic law of God which underlies the Mosaic law, but which is more stringent as well as less severe than the Mosaic law. Jesus explained the difference, as recorded in Matthew 5.

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit.
6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace.

If the main thing in life is the satisfaction of our bodies with food, drink, and sex, then we set our minds on those things constantly. And this is spiritual death. But those who live for the satisfaction of their spiritual natures, will sent their minds on spiritual matters.

6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace.

If we apply our minds entirely to the satisfaction of bodily needs, then this means spiritual death. But if we set our minds on the satisfaction of our spiritual needs, the consequence is spiritual life and peace.

Thanks Don, I go along with that pretty much.
Any insights on what ‘condemned sin in the flesh’ means? What does ‘condemned’ mean in this context? How is it different than a ‘condemned man’? Or is it?

It is sin “in the flesh” which has been condemned through Christ, and not the sinner.
How has God condemned that sin? By providing the enabling grace to overcome it, so that we might have the ability to refuse sin and to keep the deeper law of God in our lives.

Paul’s phrase “in the likeness of sinful flesh” is not so easily trivialized. Jesus "grew in wisdom…and favor with God (Luke 2:52).’ Luke’s observation implies a prior period during which Jesus was deficient in wisdom and favor with God and is a reflection on the `12-year-old Jesus’ inconsiderate act of deserting the Galilean pilgrims without His parents’ permission and forcing them into a 3-DAY desperate effort to locate the boy, fearing that he might have come to some harm. Jesus deserves His mother’s reprimand: “Son, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father [sic!] and I have been searching for you WITH GREAT ANXIETY (2:48).” On then does Luke mention that Jesus was thereafter obedient to His parents.

So does this implication that Jesus learned by trial and error repudiate the doctrine of Christ’s sinlessness? Not if we understand “sin” as a condition that separate us from God (“Your sins have separated you from your God”–Isaiah 59:2) and recognize that nothing in Jesus’ learning curve separated Him from the Father. Jesus “has every respect been tested in the same way that we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).”

The point is that Jesus was not always obedient and had to learn by trial and error just like all of us: “Son though He was, He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).”

So the adult Jesus felt the need for John’s baptism of repentance (Mark). Nor is this fact mitigated by Matthew’s apologetic insertion of John’s protest (Matthew 3:13-14). Jesus’ response to John cannot be trivialized as implying that Jesus was trying to set a good exqmple and never needed to repent.

1 Like

I don’t think there is anything in the account that indicates that Jesus was disobedient to His parents, when He went to the temple. His mother was not reprimanding Him; she was questioning Him. She genuinely wanted to know why He had disappeared. And notice that Jesus explained with another question: “Don’t you know that I must be about my Father’s affairs?”

Yes, He learned obedience through what He suffered. But that fact does not imply that He was disobedient prior to that. According to the Online Bible lexicon, the meaning of the Greek word μανθανω, translated as “learned” is:

1a) to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge
1b) to hear, be informed
1c) to learn by use and practice

In other words, this was not a matter of Jesus unlearning disobedience and becoming obedient.
This was a matter of Jesus continuing in obedience through learning.

1 Like

I think it means he overcame sin in the flesh and if we abide in Christ we can too!


Let me get this straight: you actually imagine that a young boy can be excused for disappearing without notice for 3 days, making his parents sick with worry and then not apologizing for this horrid insensitivity? Duh! And I think young Jesus was ignoring his parents’ instructions not to go off for long pwriods wthout telling them where he was going. So Jesus was disobedient and that’s why Luke tells us that only afterwards Jesus grow in wisdom and favor with God. So when the Bible tells us that Jesus had to learn obedience, the obvious implication is that He had previously been occasionally disobedient! To say otherwise is to warp moral judgment due to the influence of a biased doctrinal straightjacket1

1 Like


Mounce says on Rom.8:3-4 "Knox says that God “signed the death warrant for sin” " (The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture, Volume 27 Romans, Robert H Mounce, 1995, p.176).

You have the freedom to believe that the spotless LAMB of God sinned, disobeying God’s command,“Children obey your parents.”

Well, to be a damp rag, the understanding I assume is that the law righteousness was coming to an end.

Christ was indeed the new way, or we could say the NEW COVENANT, but that was not without it’s pitfall, the first fruit saints were receiving the brunt of the first century ire towards Christianity, And they all were looking toward a coming of the Christ… To rectify the division between God and Israel.

And that coming was fulfilled within the generation of the first century apostles and saints.

But that manifestly was no ALL Jesus was sent for, imo. The whole point of Israel was to be God’s light to the entire world. They failed, Gentiles were called and the great commission begun - which has continued every day since then. I fail to see how Jesus’ work is finished - He is still head of the Church, the fulness of Him who fills all in all; the Body of Christ, called to live the gospel and perhaps suffer for the gospel.
I know I’m wasting my breath, and boring you. Tough :slight_smile:

1 Like

DaveB, this could have different meanings, but Paul is talking about the law. So my guess is that it has something to do with the fact that Jesus, as a Pharisee, was part of this political religious system which was full of corruption. By condemning it, he was considered a blasphemous heretic and paid the price for speaking the truth.
Verses 3-4 “He condemned sin in the flesh ,that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Many were being deceived and led astray by false teachings which were not commandments of God, but as Jesus said, they were commandments of men.

Not necessarily disobedient because there could have been 2 exceptions,

  1. Jesus was under 13 & not aware of his parents wishes or
  2. Jesus had to be about “his Father’s business” which overrides his human parents wishes

LLC I think you are reading into this as Paul never mentioned anything other then “the law” as there is no hint of any commandments of men.

There is a big difference between sin and mistakes made through a maturation process of learning by trial and error. Young Jesus was wrong not to inform his parents about where he was going, why, and for how long. Most Christians don’t grasp the significance of 2 NT priinciples:
(1) that Christ “emptied himself” of all his divine prerogatives to become human (Phil 2:5-6)
(2) that Jesus "was tested in every way that we are (Hebrews 4:15) and this testing required the same initial limitations in ethical judgment that all children share. To claim otherwise is to make a mockery of his spiritual example for us.

Jesus may have been wrong although there are few details to know for sure. First Jesus did say he had to be about his Father’s business so if Abba commanded Jesus to immediately do something then Jesus had to. If he misjudged and should have told his parents then he indeed was wrong but because of his age, it was not held against him as a sin. It does say that he grew in wisdom.

This whole discussion seems, at least to me, to be much ado about nothing.

“As in Adam, all die”. That includes all of us. Adam, and all his progeny, died because he committed the sin he was warned not to commit. His sin was condemned by God’s law and he suffered the penalty for his disobedience to the law. We inherited the same propensity to sin and sin we did and deserve the same penalty for sin, i.e. death.

Jesus did not inherit the same sinful nature as we do because of the his virgin birth. He did not sin, not once. He was tempted as much, probably more so, as us, without succumbing to temptation. He resisted sin as the Son of Man rather than as the Son of God. The Spirit enabled him, even when taking him to face the devil face to face. The same Spirit likewise enables us who believe in Christ; the problem is we are often too weak to resist sin, too much in love with what forbidden fruit tastes like.


RIGHT ON!—in every point.