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The Holiness of Christ

“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.” (Romans 8:3)

The holiness of God the Father is a truth that we must know if we want to have the right understanding of the gospel. But if we are to have a complete understanding of the gospel, we must also know the holiness of Christ. After all, it is only as we understand the holy sacrifice of Jesus’ life that we can come to saving faith.

The book of Romans was written by the apostle Paul. As Paul did not yet have the opportunity to personally meet and instruct the people of the Roman church at this time, his intent in writing to them was to impart the truths of the gospel through this letter. One of the themes of this epistle was to establish the holiness of Christ and the sinfulness of man, both of which establish the profound grace of the gospel.

As Paul opens Romans 8, he tells us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. And the reason why we are not condemned for our sin is not because God had simply turned a blind eye to our sin and let us go freely unpunished. No, God’s law demands that our sins, whether big or small, few or many, be rightfully punished. How then is God’s character and law upheld in our redemption if this is what God and His law requires?

Paul tells us in verse 3 of the same chapter that God has done what the law could not do. That is, the law could not save us. For the law in itself shows us the standard of holiness that God requires. But being sinful by nature and by choice, the law clearly shows us that we have fallen short of God’s requirements. God’s law is perfect and good. But in our own flesh, we could not truly and completely keep and satisfy God’s perfect law. What the law has done, as Romans 3:20 says, is make us knowledgeable of our sin.

But God has done what the law could not do. And that is, God saved us. In verse 3, Paul tells us that God saved us by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was sent into the world in our likeness. He was truly God and truly man. And being in our likeness, He became the substitutionary offering for our sin. The holy and perfect life that God and the law demanded, we have failed to meet, but Christ was able to fulfill. Despite having our likeness and being in the world, Christ did not sin - not even once. He perfectly satisfied what the law demanded. And it is only because He lived a holy and perfect life, that He could make possible the payment for our sins and the imputation of His righteousness to the sinner.

Dear believer, may the holiness of Christ and the sinfulness of man show you the incomprehensible grace of the gospel. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us. The holy and spotless Lamb of God bore the judgment we rightfully deserved. He paid the full penalty for our sin, so that in this manner, God’s justice and law were completely upheld. But it does not stop there. Because of what Christ has done, our sin was not only put on Christ, but Christ’s righteousness was also put on us. His life became ours. And by this great exchange, God’s mercy and grace were fully displayed.

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