“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.” – Romans 8:3
Charles Haddon Spurgeon believed that “ever since man has fallen away from God, two things have been highly desirable.” The first was that “man should be forgiven all his offences,” and the second was that “he should be led to hate the sin into which he has fallen, and love the purity and holiness from which he has become alienated.” For Spurgeon, these “two disabilities must be removed,” and furthermore they “must be accomplished together.”
Thinking aloud, Spurgeon said “if his sins were forgiven, and yet he loved sin, his prospects were dark.” Indeed, the “direst portents” would loom over the future of such a man. On the other hand, he noted that “if he ceased to love sin, and yet were lying under guilt of it, his present condition would rather be deeply miserable than happy.” For Spurgeon it was not enough to have one without the other because all men needed to be justified and sanctified.
In this sermon Spurgeon focused his attention on how Christ succeeded where the law had failed. He highly esteemed the law, and noted that “there is not one single arbitrary precept” in it. However, the law was made weak “because of our flesh and tendency to sin.” Furthermore, Spurgeon asserted that “the law cannot forgive past sin,” also saying “it could not do what…God never intended it should do.” Indeed, the opposite was unfortunately true, that “if a man sees a thing to be a law, he wants to break that law.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon focused on “What, according to the text, God did – he sent his Son.” Here he focused on the mystery of the Son’s relationship to the Father. He humbly stated that “though we understand not the mystery of the Divine Existence, we accept the propositions declared in Scripture.” And so, Spurgeon confidently declared “we believe that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and we worship these three as the one God, the triune God of Israel.”
Turing his focus to Christ, Spurgeon marveled at the Incarnation. God had “sent his own Son” and had “sent him in the flesh.” Jesus was the Word made flesh and the perfect likeness of the Father’s own glorious character. And yet, Spurgeon noted that with respect to his humanity he was “to all intents and purposes like ourselves.” The only difference was that while Christ was “tempted in all points like we are” he was “without sin.” Nonetheless, Jesus endured all our “sinless infirmities,” and bore with “all our tendencies to suffer.”
But that was not all, for Jesus was “sent that he might be the substitute for sinners.” God in his justice “could not overlook sin,” rather “sin must be punished.” And so, our Triune God decided that “Jesus Christ should come and take the sin of the people upon himself…[and] should suffer what was due on our behalf” so that God might be “just” and the “justifier” of all those who believe in Jesus.
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon asked “What was the immediate result of this?” Immediately he noted the result, that “God condemned sin.” Sin was “such an evil,” a “plague,” and a “curse” that it could not be “stamped out of the world unless God himself comes down among the sons of men.”
Furthermore, Spurgeon emphasized that God condemned sin “by bruising Christ, by suffering him to be put to death.” He pressed his congregation on this point, saying “sirs, our sin, your sin, my sin, the sin of as many as do believe or shall believe in Jesus, was laid on him.” Indeed, “there and then he made expiation for man’s guilt.”
In the third, and final section, of his sermon, Spurgeon sought “To show you how this does what the law could not do.” Here he reminded his congregation that while “the law cannot forgive past sin” that “if Jesus paid the debt, it is paid, and I am clear.” As a result, he exulted with the apostle Paul that “there is, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” Because of Christ’s substitutionary, atoning sacrifice “the sin of the believer has ceased to be” for “Christ has been punished in his stead.”
Why you should take up and read:
Charles Spurgeon knew that “the law cannot forgive past sin.” Rather, the desperate sinner needed to believe that “Christ has been punished in his stead” for “if Jesus paid the debt, it is paid.” In this sermon Spurgeon exulted in the glorious salvation found only in Christ, the only one who could fulfill the law and condemn sin. For those wanting to glory in our great salvation please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/how-god-condemned-sin#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves as the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City while studying in The Residency Ph.D. program.