Satisfaction! We think of it as a feeling. But the Bible describes satisfaction as something more than a feeling. It involves objectively meeting something against you and the changed situation that results.
There is no condemnation for you! Romans 8:1–4 could be described as the heart of Paul’s gospel. He draws a big picture of God, including the activity of the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He compactly summarizes what happened on the cross. He holds out the glorious, certain hope that there is no condemnation to you in Christ Jesus. Lord’s Day 5 of the Heidelberg Catechism refers to this verse as it tells you how God deals with the problem of your sin. Consider memorizing this summary of the good news! “Condemnation” involves not only the legal pronouncement of the sentence, but also includes the actual carrying out of it. A judge may declare a criminal guilty and then pronounce a sentence to be fulfilled. Condemnation involves both ideas. You are free from the guilt of sin, and you have also been liberated from its enslaving power. Christian, remember this passage when Satan tries to discourage you by focusing on your sins and failures. Take heart, and tell the Accuser (and your heart) that there is no condemnation for you. The wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23. You need deliverance from “the body of this death” Romans 7:24. The Holy Spirit is alive. He is the author of your life as a believer. He is life.
“The Lord Jesus Christ became in himself the sacrifice for your sins. In other words, he was the sacrifice of sacrifices, the sacrifice toward which all the others pointed, the original sacrifice, next to which all other sacrifices were mere imitations.”William F. Snodgrass, “He Offered Up Himself” in Resurrection and Eschatology: Theology in Service of the Church
God condemned sin in the flesh. The law alone was powerless to free you. The law can declare you guilty. It can make you aware of sin. It can even make sin alive, Romans 7:9. The law brings death. But the law cannot make you alive. It cannot free you from the guilt and power of sin. The problem with the law is not some deficiency in God’s law. Rather, the law is weak because it is dealing with the flesh. Flesh here, as often in Paul’s writings, has negative ethical overtones. It is flesh as it is corrupted and weakened by sin. What the law could not do, God did. Where you are weak, God is strong. He acted by sending his Son. God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. Paul is not qualifying the humanity of Christ, but rather, is safeguarding his sinless character. Christ is truly human, truly like us in every respect, except that he is without sin. How deeply does God love you? Deeply enough to send his Son in the likeness of your sinful flesh. God sent his Son for sin. Not just as a sin offering (although that is true) but the very purpose of the incarnation was to deal with the problem of sin–your sin and mine. In the flesh of his Son God poured out all of his wrath against your sin. Remember Genesis 22:1-19, where Abraham is called to make the ultimate sacrifice of his son. You know that God intervened and stopped the father from bringing down the knife. But you also know that the ram that was offered in Isaac’s place looked forward to the sacrifice in which the Father would not spare his Son. God condemned sin in the flesh. Not just (as the some translations indicate) that the coming of Christ served to condemn sin in our sinful nature, but rather that in the flesh of his Son God poured out all of his wrath against our sin. We sinned in our human nature, and in the flesh (which in every other case was sinful) of his Son God punished our sin. In this suffering Christ provides the full satisfaction for God’s justice, bearing the punishment you deserve.
“In that same nature which in all others was sinful, in that very nature which in all others was dominated and directed by sin, in that nature assumed by the Son of God but free from sin, God condemned sin and overthrew its power. Jesus not only blotted out sin’s guilt and brought us nigh to God. He also vanquished sin as power and set us free from its enslaving dominion..”John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, Vol. 1, p. 282
This freedom is yours only if you are in Christ, only if you trust in the Son God sent, if you are united to him by faith, united in his death and resurrection. The “therefore” of verse 1 looks back to Romans 5, 6 & 7.
The law of the Spirit has set you free! Outward circumstances don’t change you. The law of the Spirit of life has freed you. “Spirit” is the Holy Spirit. He was involved in giving life as God created Adam. He is the Spirit by whom Christ was raised from the dead. He frees you from the controlling power of sin as a liberating army frees an occupied country. Not only are you declared righteous before God (justification), but also you have been set free from the enslaving power of sin.
“Such a priest, such an high priest, thank God, we have. It is Christ Jesus the Lord. He was, from all eternity, God. Through Him the worlds were made. For one purpose did He humble Himself; for one purpose did He become man — that He might be our priest to reconcile us to God, that He might offer on the cross for us sinners a perfect sacrifice to fulfil the law’s demands and wipe out the dread handwriting that was against us. Through Him and Him alone we come to God; through His constant intercession alone do we stand in God’s presence.”J. Gresham Machen, God Transcendent, p. 175
The law of the Spirit of life is contrasted with the law of sin and death. Life replaces death! The wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23. You need deliverance from “the body of this death” Romans 7:24. The Holy Spirit is alive. He is the author of your life as a believer. He is life.
You are free to obey. Paul is absolutely clear that your salvation is not based on any obedience to the law that you perform. The law is helpless because it is weak through the flesh. But Paul never downplays the importance of the law of God. God’s great work of condemning sin in the flesh of his Son took place so that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in you. You are saved to obey, to serve God. The Spirit who sets you free, has freed you to serve. He enlivens you. He enables you to obey. This passage makes obedience a thing of joy, rather than a burden. Obedience is not a matter of beating yourself up, as though our growth in grace is in reverse proportion to how bad you feel about ourselves. Rather, it is a joy that looks away from yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both your righteousness and your holiness. Your goal is nothing less than the fulfillment of the righteousness of the law in you. Remember that Ephesians 2:10 follows Ephesians 2:8-9. Remember this passage when the Accuser tries to convince you that a little sin is not that serious. Don’t forget that sin contradicts God’s purpose in sending his Son for you. You have been set free. Now don’t live as though you were still under occupation.
Jesus Christ is the satisfaction for you, doing what you could never do yourself. Does that comfort you? Does that give you joy and freedom in obeying him?