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Jesus our Sinless Savior


Romans 8:3-4

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: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.


SERMON DESCRIPTION

Why is it important that Christ was truly a man? In this sermon on Romans 8:3–4 titled “Jesus: Our Sinless Saviour,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones answers this vital theological question and explains how it changes lives. If Christ was not truly a man, how could He die in the place of humans? If Christ was not a man tempted like all humans, how could He relate to their weaknesses? This is why Christ had to come as a true man, and yet He was totally without sin. He had to be born as a man, live as a man, and die as a man in order to be a perfect Savior. The glory of salvation is that God becomes human and dies in humanity’s place upon the cross. This message of good news commands all to believe in Christ alone for forgiveness of sin as there is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. This leaves everyone to ask if they believe that Jesus died for them and are they trusting in the what God has done in His Son upon the cross. This question is not one of intellectual speculation, but has eternal significance for all of humanity. In this sermon the listener will hear the greatest truth that the world has ever seen in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

SERMON BREAKDOWN

  1. The law could not save man because it was weak through the flesh.
  2. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to condemn sin in the flesh.
  3. The sermon passage is Romans 8:3-4 which gives the reason why the law could not save and what God did about it.
  4. The sermon passage divides into two main points:
    1. What the law could not do (v. 3a)
    2. What God did (v. 3b-4)
  5. What the law could not do:
    1. The law was weak through the flesh. It could not enable man to keep it.
  6. Why the law was weak:
    1. Man’s sinful nature made it impossible for him to keep the law.
  7. What God did:
    1. God sent his own Son into the world (v. 3b)
    2. Why God sent his Son: to condemn sin in the flesh (v. 3c)
    3. How God sent his Son: in the likeness of sinful flesh (v. 3d)
    4. The result: the righteousness of the law fulfilled in us (v. 4)
  8. God sent his Son into the world (v. 3b)
    1. Salvation is God’s work, not man’s.
    2. “His own Son” – the eternal Son, eternally one with the Father
  9. God sent his Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (v. 3d)
    1. The incarnation was real – Christ had a true human body and soul.
    2. Christ’s human nature was not sinful, though it was like ours.
    3. Christ’s human nature was free from sin but shared some effects of sin (e.g. tiredness, pain).
  10. Why it was essential for Christ to come “in the likeness of sinful flesh”:
    1. To keep the law and bear its punishment as our representative
    2. To bear our guilt and sins
    3. To give us a new, divine nature by uniting it to our human nature
    4. To become our sympathetic High Priest
    5. To conquer death
    6. To silence the devil’s accusations against God’s work

Sermon Transcript

Jesus our Sinless Savior

The words which, uh, most of you will remember, we are considering, are to be found in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, in chapter 8, and verses 3 and 4. Verses 3 and 4 in the 8th chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans 8:3-4. 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, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.

Now, I have suggested that the way to divide the two verses, which constitute together one big statement, is this. We are told here what the law could not do. Secondly, we are told why it couldn’t do it. And thirdly, we are told [00:01:00] what God has done, which the law could not do, how God has done what the law could not do, and fourthly, what all this leads to as far as we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are concerned.

Now then, we’ve already, uh, considered what the law could not do and why it couldn’t do it. And we are proceeding to consider what God hath done. And how God has done this, which the law could not do. Now, here is a great subject, because we’ve got compressed here into this third verse. A great volume of Christian doctrine and Christian theology.

There is no verse, perhaps, which is so packed with doctrine and theology as this third verse. So, considering this particular heading of what God has done,  It seems to me that, uh, this again divides itself up into three sections. One, God has sent his son into the world. That’s number one. Number two, why God sent his son into the world.

And three, why it was essential that he should do so. Now, we are still dealing with the first section of this further subdivision. God has sent his son into the world. Now that was the main theme last Friday night when we emphasized these points. That it is God who’s done it. Salvation is of God. It isn’t men’s action.

It is God’s action. And entirely so. God has solved this problem. What the law couldn’t do, God has done. And God has done it. And secondly, we emphasize this expression, His own Son. His own eternal Son. His only begotten Son. His Son eternally generated. Who was with Him as the Son from all eternity. Now then, that is the point at which we left off last Friday evening.

So that now we can go on to the next aspect of this matter, of what God has done. He has sent His Son. Where has He sent Him? Well, He has sent Him into the world. And that is put here in this phrase, in the likeness of sinful flesh. Now, here is a great and a striking, and in many ways a, a staggering statement.

And one which is, as I’m going to show you, of extreme importance in connection with the whole doctrine of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the incarnation. This is a statement of the incarnation. God sent his son into this world. The babe of Bethlehem is the son of God. Jesus of Nazareth is the eternal son of God.

Very well, we are looking at him. Here he is walking in this world, though he is eternally God’s only son. And nothing is more important, uh, obviously, than that we should realize the truth concerning him and concerning, uh, his person. And this, uh, phrase we’ve got here is one of the most important in the whole of the scripture with regard to just that question of the incarnation and the person of our Lord.

Because it is a statement that defines our Lord’s person more closely, more in detail, than perhaps any other. Now, what I mean is this. There are certain general statements about the Incarnation and the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Take, for instance, John 1:14  where we are told the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Now, you see, that’s more general than this one. There it is, the word was made flesh, but here we’ve got was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. It’s more particular. Or take another general one, Galatians 4:4. When the fullness of the times was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.

Quite all right, but it doesn’t tell us as much as this phrase here in this third verse of Romans 8:3. Take Philippians 2:7, a tremendous statement about the incarnation. There we’ve got that, uh, he made himself of no reputation and was made in the likeness of men. Still, you see, it’s not as specific and not as detailed as the phrase that we are looking at tonight.

Then you’ve got that tremendous statement of it. In the 1Tim 3:16 first epistle to Timothy, in the third chapter, and in that sixteenth verse, great is the mystery of godliness. You remember, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

God was manifest in the flesh. Again, true of course, but general, and not as particular and as detailed as our statement this evening. Then you’ve got it in Hebrews 2:14 . For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself, likewise, took part of the same. Again, a most wonderful statement, but it isn’t as detailed as our statement this evening.

And then I give you one more, which is in the  10th chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews in verse 5 Heb 10:5. Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me. Now all those are statements, and there are others of course, which remind us of the fact of the incarnation.

That the eternal Son of God was in this world as a man. But clearly that isn’t enough. And this phrase that we’re looking at this evening, tells us more about it. It defines us, defines it still further. It qualifies those general statements. What does it do? Well, the first thing it does is this. It reminds us that the Incarnation really was a fact.

It was a true Incarnation. The Son of God did not merely take unto Him an appearance of a body. He didn’t come with a mere appearance of flesh. No, He literally had a human body and a human soul. The Incarnation is a fact and a reality. Now, why do I trouble to say this? Well, because, you know, in the very early days of the church, this matter caused a great deal of confusion.

There were certain false teachers that arose in the Christian church, who taught that Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, did not have a true body. It was an appearance, a sort of phantom body. The incarnation was never real. He appeared as a man, but was never really man. But the word was not truly made flesh.

But that is a terrible heresy. And, uh, the New Testament is at great pains to tell us and to teach us that that was great heresy and error. Indeed, it can be said that the first epistle of John was probably written primarily to counter that seriously erroneous teaching. That is why, you see, John starts off in that epistle by putting it like this.

That which was from the beginning. Which we have heard, which our, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life. He starts at once. He is dealing with these people who say that in a sense you couldn’t see, and you couldn’t handle with your hands.

He is nailing that terrible heresy, which said that our Lord’s body was a mere appearance. You see what they went on to say, not that it matters for us tonight, in a sense is this. That, um, He came into this body and went out of it at the cross so that the Son of God didn’t really die. He left this phantom body and all that was on the cross was a mere phantom.

Now then, this first epistle of John counters that. Now, John is so concerned about it that in the fourth chapter of that first epistle, in the first three verses he says this. Beloved, he says, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God. Because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Hereby, in this way, know ye the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh  is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world.

Now that is ultimately the test, therefore, of whether we’ve got true doctrine or not. You see, there were preachers going around, and they appear to have great powers. They appear to have certain spiritual powers, and were able to do wonders, and to speak in ecstasies, and so on. It’s all right, says John, don’t judge them by their performances, judge them by their doctrine.

Do they confess that Jesus Christ has truly come in the flesh? Or are they these false teachers who deny that? It doesn’t matter how wonderful they appear, nor how many miracles they may appear to work, if they deny the reality of the Incarnation. They are not of God, that is the Antichrist and the spirit of Antichrist.

In other  words, the touchstone by which we should always judge any preacher or any man who claims to have spiritual power and authority is his view of the Lord Jesus Christ, his person. This reality of the Incarnation. Well, there it is, you see, that first epistle of John is devoted to it, but we get it in many other places.

Listen to the Apostle Peter. Who his own self, he says in the first epistle, chapter 2, verse 24 1Pet 2:24, bore our sins in his own body on the tree. He was in that body and he bore them in the body, on the tree. But perhaps the most conclusive argument of all is this. That the name that our Lord most frequently applied to himself was the Son of Man.

He referred to himself as the Son of Man. Why? Well, in order to  emphasize this fact, that he was truly man, and didn’t merely appear to be a man. It wasn’t a sort of theophany, an appearance of God in human form. He was truly a man, and he had a literal, physical body as we all have. Not a phantom. That’s the first thing it reminds us of.

Secondly,

it doesn’t merely say, you notice, that he sent him in the flesh. That isn’t enough either. These other statements have said that. But obviously it isn’t enough just to say that. So we must go on and notice another negative which is this. He goes out of his way to say that he did not come in sinful flesh.

He says in the likeness of sinful flesh. Now then, here is an important point. Here again is a heresy. Was the body, the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ sinful or was it not? Now there were people in the early church as there are people in the church today. Who say that our Lord’s human nature was sinful, exactly as everybody else’s is.

That he was born of a woman, and therefore he inherited from her, her sinful human nature. And that the sinful, that our Lord’s human nature was a sinful one. They say what happened was this, that though his human nature was sinful, he was able not to sin. He rose above it, he mastered it, and he conquered it.

But his nature, they say, his human nature, was actually sinful, like that of everybody else. And they regard his saviourhood, in a sense, as just that. That he overcame the sin that is in the whole of humanity, and if we look to him and seek his help and his aid, he will enable us to do the same thing.  And that that is how he saves us.

Now, it seems very, very important that we should be clear about this. That, I say, is a teaching that has kept on appearing in the church, uh, At different times throughout our long history. It is being taught very commonly at the present time. Let me give you but one instance of that, uh, the most famous, uh, theologian in the world today is probably that great Swiss, uh, Karl Bach.

Now that’s his view of our Lord’s human nature, that it was sinful. And it is the view held by his followers in this and in every other country. So that it is important, I say, that we should be clear about this. And that is where this verse, you see, is so important. If that were true, the apostle would have said here, God sending his own Son in sinful flesh, and for sin, condemns sin in the flesh.

He goes out of his way not to say that. He says,  in the likeness of sinful flesh. Why does he trouble to do this? Well, because he is anxious that we should realize that our Lord’s human nature was not sinful. Now, is this an isolated statement? Certainly not. Listen to some other statements. You remember the Archangel Gabriel.

Announcing the birth of our Lord to Mary. You’ll find it in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. And I want to call attention particularly to what he said to her in verse 35 Luke 1:35. Where he puts it like this, but the whole context is important. Mary, you remember, having been told about this wonderful son whom she’s to bear.

Couldn’t understand it, and she said to the angel, How shall this be? Seeing that I know not a man. The thing’s impossible, said Mary. I’m a virgin. How can I bear a son? I’ve never known a man. I’m, I’m a virgin. Then verse 35. The angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.

Then listen. Therefore, also, that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. What a description of our Lord. What a description of that baby. That holy thing. Why does he call him that? Well, because he is holy. There was no sin in him. He’s unlike every other babe that’s been born into this world.

Here is the only babe which you can say is holy. That holy thing. Entirely free from sin. Altogether different from all others. But there are other statements that confirm this. Now the whole doctrine, of course, of the virgin birth is involved at this point. His birth is unique. There we’ve been told that his conception is unique.

Though she’s never known a man, though she’s not going to know a man, she’s going to bear a child. How is the child conceived? The power of the highest shall overshadow thee. That’s the answer. Now, this is not simply stated in Luke, in Luke’s gospel. You’ve got it also in the gospel according to Matthew.

Listen to Matthew 1, 18 Matthew 1:18. Now, the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with  child of the Holy Ghost. Joseph isn’t the father. They’d not come together. She is found to be with a child of the Holy Ghost. There’s the same thing again.

And verse 20, Joseph is reprimanded. He thought to put her, put her away, you remember. But he’s told this, Joseph thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. So that in those two verses, 18 and 20, Matt 1:18, 20  in the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, You’ve got these specific statements, which are here to tell us that he has been conceived of the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Ghost has, as it were, supplied the germ of life. Here is something that has never happened before, has never happened afterwards. Here is a unique birth, something altogether in a category on its own. Now, this is very important doctrine. Obviously, the Scriptures wouldn’t take the trouble to supply us with these statements.

Unless they were of great importance. So what we are taught in these statements is, and let me give you some others before I sum it up for you. Take the Apostle Paul’s way of putting it in 2 Corinthians 5, 21 2Cor 5:21.  He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

He knew no sin. He not only didn’t commit sin, there was no sin in his nature. He never knew it in an experimental sense. He, he never knew it as having it in his nature as a pollution even. It was always outside him. There’s a great statement of it. Then take that verse which we read at the beginning, Hebrews 4, 15 Heb 4:15.

For we have not an high priest, he says, which cannot be touched with any feeling of our infirmities, but one who was tempted in all points, like as we are, without sin. Now, that’s not a good translation at all. It’s almost A misleading translation. It should be translated like this. Tempted in all points, according to our likeness,

apart from sin. Now that’s another exact statement of our phrase here in Romans 8. 3 Rom 8:3. Here it’s put, in the likeness of sinful flesh. There it is put, according to our likeness, apart from sin. Which means, of course, that he is like us, apart from the sin. In other words, he is in the likeness of sinful flesh.

It isn’t sinful. It’s apart from sin, but it is in the likeness of it. The very self same statement that we are considering. But then there’s another very wonderful statement of it in Hebrews 7, 26 Heb 7:26. For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.

Now you notice the description of it. He’s got to be holy and harmless and undefiled, separate from sinners. In other words, he is perfect. He is without sin. There is no blemish in him in any respect at all. And there, of course, you’ve got the same thing once more in the ninth chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, in verse 14 Hebrews 9:14, where we read this.

How much more shall the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, without spot to God, purge our souls, purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living God, which links up, of course, with what Peter says in his first epistle, first chapter, verse 19 1Peter 1:19. He says we are saved not with silver and gold, but what?

With the  Precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot. And of course when you go back to the Old Testament, you will find the regulations laid down about the lamb that was to be taken and to be sacrificed. And the point is always made that there must be no blemish in it. Why was that to be true of the type?

Well, because it was to be true of the anti type. They couldn’t take a lamb, which had got a blemish that wasn’t accepted. It had to be a lamb which, as far as they could tell, was absolutely perfect. Without any blemish whatsoever. To typify the fact that when the lamb of God came, he’d have no blemish at all.

Well, if he’s got a sinful nature, he’s got a very great blemish. His nature is polluted. So all these statements work together, you see, to substantiate this claim which is made in the verse that we are looking at this evening. That our Lord’s human nature was not sinful, but that it was like our sinful nature.

And if you want one other, you find it in the first epistle of John again, chapter 3 and verse 5 1 John 3:5. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him is no sin. Now then, what is the doctrine? Well, I can put it to you in this form.

That our Lord in the incarnation took unto Him a human nature that had been rendered free from sin.

Now, it’s very interesting that the Roman Catholics, at this point, are not only right, but in their anxiety to be right, go so far as to say something that is wrong. What is it they say? Well, in their great anxiety to safeguard this fact, that our Lord’s human nature was not sinful, they go so far as to say that the human nature of the Virgin Mary was not sinful.

That is what is called the doctrine of the immaculate conception. Now I find people very often think that when they hear about the doctrine of the immaculate conception, that it’s simply a statement of the fact that our Lord’s nature was free from sin. That isn’t what it means at all. The immaculate conception as taught by the Church of Rome says that the human nature of Mary was sinless.

And there is not an iota of evidence to support that in the whole of Scripture. Not an iota. Mary was human like everybody else. Her human nature was most definitely and decidedly sinful. She is a descendant of Adam, like everybody else is a descendant of Adam. And she has received the polluted, fallen human nature that everybody born into this world has received as the result of Adam’s transgression.

The Apostles proved that to us in chapter 5  of this epistle to the Romans Romans 5. Very well then, what is the teaching? Well the teaching is this, not that Mary had been rendered sinless. But that that portion of Mary, that cell out of Mary, which was to be developed into the body of the Son of God, that that was cleansed from sin.

And that only. So that Mary remains sinful. But this portion that she transmits to her son has been delivered, set free from sin. And it is to that that the Son of God is joined. That is the human nature that he takes unto himself. It’s a miracle, of course, and we are told specifically that it is a miracle.

It was because she didn’t realize that a miracle was to happen that Mary stumbled at the announcement of the Archangel Gabriel. And his reply is, don’t try to understand this, but the power of the highest shall overshadow thee. The Holy Ghost will come upon thee. You’re going to conceive of the Holy Ghost.

He has power to work this cleansing. So that the body and the human nature of the Son of God shall be entirely free from sin. So we reject the doctrine of the immaculate conception. But we assert with all our power and all we have the doctrine that the human nature of the Son of God was entirely free from sin.

But why should anybody ever want to doubt this, you say? Why should they say that the Lord’s human nature was sinful? And what they try to say, of course, is this, that they can’t see how he could be tempted truly unless this was true of him. They feel that it is essential to the fact that he should have been liable and subject to temptation, like as we are.

Well, now, the reply to that, of course, is again simply Hebrews 4. 15 Hebrews 4:15. Tempted in all points, like as we are, apart from sin. Tempted to sin, but there was no sin in him. He was tempted in every way like we are, but there was no sin in him. Sin apart, if you like, apart from sin. But not only that, it is entirely a fallacy to say that we cannot be tempted unless there is something within us that responds to it.

Because after all, Adam, when he was tempted, Had not got a sinful nature. Adam when he was tempted had a perfect human nature. He was tempted, Adam and Eve were tempted in a state of perfection. So that obviously a temptation can have force and power, though the nature is not evil. And that rarely is an answer sufficiently in and of itself.

I wouldn’t hesitate to assert this. That our Lord knew the power of temptation in a way that no human being has ever known it. The devil brought out all his reserves. He brought out all his subtlety, he put it as attractively as he could. We see it in the three temptations in the wilderness. He undoubtedly came back many another time, and brought all his power of deception to bear upon him.

But our Lord did not fall, but he felt the power of temptation. He had a view of the subtlety of the devil and sin and evil and temptation, such as you and I can never know. That then is the answer to that, but furthermore, what these good friends seem to me to miss is this. Can you conceive of the Godhead combining in one person With sin, with sinful human nature.

The thing is inconceivable that this divine, eternal nature, for He is God, eternal God, the Son. How can that possibly combine in one person with a sinful human nature? The thing doesn’t bear thinking about. It is quite inconceivable. And then add to that this final argument. Our Lord, according to the teaching of the Scripture.

Did not come into the world simply to cleanse that first humanity that had been created in Adam. He came to bring in a new humanity. That is why you see Paul in 1 Corinthians 15  puts it like this. The first man and then the second man. The first man is of the earth, earthy the second man is the Lord from heaven.

Now this is the most important point to me. What God has done in Christ is to start a new race, a new humanity, which has its link with the old humanity in this portion that was taken from Mary, which was rendered free from sin, so that in a sense you can say it is still the old humanity, yes, but it has been so cleansed that it can be the start of a new humanity.

So that Jesus Christ is the second man. Adam was the first man. Adam was the head of a human race. Jesus Christ is the head of a human race. The second man. Here is the firstborn amongst many brethren. Here is God starting, I say, a new pattern. A new race, as it were, of men. A new humanity. That link with the old, but something which is essentially new.

And as we bear that in mind, I think we see how utterly important it is that we should realize that his nature wasn’t sinful. When God made the first man, he made him perfect. Adam’s human nature was not a sinful human nature. The man, the first man that God brought into being, was entirely free from sin in every respect.

So was the second. If you say that Christ’s human nature was sinful, you’re in a sense making him a lesser man than the first man. less perfect, less complete, which is again unthinkable. Not only that, you’ve got to look at it in this way.

As I was saying, I think it was last week, what makes this salvation of ours so certain and sure is this, that it cannot fail. It cannot fail. Sin doesn’t enter in here as it entered into the first. It cannot enter in. And that is because the eternal Son of God has taken unto himself this human nature, and he bears it through, spotless and perfect, without ever falling, and without any trace of sin in any connection belonging to it.

Very well then, so the apostle emphasizes here that he didn’t come in sinful flesh. But he does go out of his way to say that he came in the likeness of sinful flesh. And there is a positive element in this. And the positive element is a very valuable one. It means this. He had a true flesh. He was truly human.

His human nature was not an appearance, it was a reality. He was truly a man. He had a rational soul like every one of us has.

But it wasn’t sinful in any way at all but it was like our sinful human nature in certain respects. In what respects? And the answer seems to be this inevitably. That though his human nature was not in itself sinful, it did have some of the characteristics that belong to our human nature as the result of sin.

What do I mean? I mean something like this.

Sin not only pollutes human nature, it brought into it certain infirmities. Now Adam, before he fell, had no infirmities at all. Adam was perfect. He didn’t know fatigue. He couldn’t have been ill. He was innocent and he was without sin. But as the result of his sin and his fall, he not only became sinful and perverted in his nature, certain weaknesses entered into his life and they have been transmitted ever since.

Now the Bible makes it very clear that our Lord had some of these infirmities. Now infirmities are not sinful in and of themselves. What am I thinking of? Well, I’m thinking of fatigue, tiredness, weariness. Pain, sorrow, grief, disappointment, the capacity to weep. All those were evident in our Lord. Let me give you some others.

We read about him at the end of the second chapter of Gospel of Luke Luke 2. Two statements like this. First of all, verse 40 Luke 2:40. And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom. And the grace of God was upon him. Then verse 52 Luke 2:52. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, you see he was able to grow, in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.

Yes, and also as we’ve seen again in Hebrews 4. 15 Hebrews 4:15, he now was subject to temptation. James tells us that God not only does not tempt but cannot be tempted. And if our Lord had not become truly human, if He hadn’t really become a man, He wouldn’t even be subject to temptation. But He was subject to temptation, yes, because He came in the likeness of sinful flesh.

And then you notice those other remarkable statements which are made about Him in that portion, that we read at the beginning in the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews Hebrews 5:1-2. Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God. That he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way, for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

 And this is true of the Son of God. He is compassed with infirmity. You see, we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Why not? Well, because he knew these infirmities himself. He knew what it was to be compassed with certain infirmities. He was not aware of certain things.

You take the instance for instance, uh, take that instance of the barren fig tree. He obviously didn’t know that it hadn’t got fruit on it. He says about the day of the second coming that he doesn’t know it. Not only does no man know the time of the second coming, he says even the son doesn’t know it, only the father.

Now these are parts and indications of this infirmity. So that this fifth chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews sheds great light upon this phrase that we’re looking at in Romans 8:3 this evening. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. You looked at him, and he appeared to be frail. He was tired, he was weary, we read in the incident of the woman of Samaria, that when the disciples had gone to buy provisions, he sat by the side of the well because he was tired.

He seems to have been more tired than they were. Now that’s an infirmity. So he came in the likeness of sinful flesh. His flesh wasn’t sinful, but it was like it in these particular respects. Now then, let me ask a final question. Why was this essential? Why did he have to come in this particular way? Why did God send his Son into the world in the likeness of sinful flesh? And the answer is this. That man is man. And that God sent his son to save man. And therefore in order to save man, he has to become man. Now this is put best of all in the second chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews 2:9. First of all in verse nine. He says, We do not see at all things put under men, but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

There’s the first statement of it. But take verse eleven, For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified. Are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. Now these verses are tremendously important. Take that tenth verse before that. It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation, the leader of their salvation, which is Jesus Christ perfect as a captain through sufferings. And you see, in order that he might do it through sufferings, He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. He’s got this human nature that they’ve got. Very well, there’s another statement of it, but then go on to verse 14 Hebrews 2:14.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and  He also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death that is the devil. Because you and I have got flesh and blood in order to save us, he’s got to take on him flesh and blood.

That’s the argument. And then look at verse 16 and 17 Hebrews 2:16-17. For verily, he says, he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore, in all things it behooved him to be made Like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted. Now let me try to expound all this to you. Why did he have to come in the likeness of sinful flesh? One, he had to keep and to honor the law. Man is under the law. And he has broken it, and therefore the law condemns him.

And before man can be reconciled to God, he must keep the law. He must bear its punishment. He must actively obey it. Jesus Christ came into the world to be our representative, to do that for us. Men can’t do it. Men have failed to do it. There is none just no, not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

The whole world lieth guilty before God. I’m quoting from the third chapter of the epistle to the Romans 3:12. Now then, men can’t do it. God can’t do it. What the law could not do. God sends his son. What for? To be our representative. What’s he got to do as our representative? He’s got to keep the law very well, then he must be born under it.

That means he’s got to become a man. He’s got to take on human nature. He couldn’t keep and honor the law for us unless he had done this. Not only that, this punish this guilt has got to be born. And how can he bear the guilt unless he is likened to us as this man argues? So, in order to take our sins and our guilt upon him, and to bear their punishment, he’s He had to take on human nature.

God, as God couldn’t do that, the Son had to become incarnate before he could do that. He has to be partaker of flesh and blood as we are. He must be a man, to be man’s representative, to be the start of this new humanity. As sin had been committed in the body, so it must be punished in the body, which is the next phrase, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemn sin.

In the flesh. Not in theory, but in the body of his own son. Alright, that’s the second point. Third point. Before he can save us, he must not only do all that, but he must give us a new nature. We need to be made partakers of the divine nature. And the only way in which that becomes possible is this. That he has done that to human nature.

He’s taken it unto himself and he’s able to give it to us. Amen. If he had not become incarnate, we could never have become partakers of the divine nature and the sons of God. Fourth, as there’s argued out so wonderfully there in Hebrews 4 and 5, this is the only way whereby he could become our sympathetic high priest.

You know, if he hadn’t done this, we wouldn’t be able to pray. Who are we to ascend into the hill of God? Who are we to go into the presence of the eternal God, who is a consuming fire? No, no, there’s only one way where I, whereby I can pray and go into the presence of God with confidence. It is this, that we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

No, no, he’s come in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was made flesh, he’s truly man, and he’s lived in this world. He knows, he can bear with us, he can sympathize with us, he can strengthen us. He is a sympathetic high priest because he came in the likeness of sinful flesh. He knows what it is to be weary and tired, hungry and thirsty.

He knows what it is to be disappointed in his friends. He knows what it is to feel grief and sorrow. He knows what it is to weep. Thank God he came in the likeness of sinful flesh. It makes him our sympathetic high priest. And then, listen to this. If he hadn’t come in this way, he could never have conquered death for us.

Before death can be conquered, a human nature must be able to go through it and come out the other side. He’s done it. He is the firstborn amongst many brethren. Or as the Apostle Paul put it in preaching to Agrippa and Festus and their wives, That he should be the first to rise from the dead. Here is a new man that’s conquered death and left it behind forever.

He dieth no more, as Paul has told us in chapter 6 in verse 10 of this epistle to the Romans. Yes, and because he’s done it, we can be sure of our resurrection. He puts it in 1 Corinthians 15:21 in this way. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead. If it’s man who’s gone down, it’s a man who must go up.

Therefore, he had to become man. That’s the argument. And that brings me to my last reason, which is this, the sixth.

This is the only way to silence the devil to all eternity. What do I mean? I mean something like this. Ever since the fall of men, the devil has been taunting God. He said, you made men in your own image, look at him. I’ve got him, I’ve mastered him. What can you do about it? Your great plan has gone wrong.

Now, if God had saved men by any other means or method, save the one that he’s adopted, the devil could never have been silent. If great spiritual power were given from heaven, the devil would say, yes, but that isn’t fair. You see, it isn’t men. If he came down on earth, he couldn’t stand. I’d tempt him and I’d get him down.

Very well, God sent his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh. He made him under the law, made of a woman, made under the law. He is subject to temptation. The devil was given a full opportunity, but he failed. There stood before him one whom he regarded as a man only, and he could find nothing in him. And he failed to trap him.

He failed to ensnare him. He failed to drag him down. He’s defeated. So that it’s argued therefore in Hebrews 2, you see. For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil.

The devil is silenced once and forever, man is in Christ restored unto the image of God, and will be made finally perfect and complete. You see, you remember, don’t you, how Paul argued there in chapter 3, verse 25 Romand 3:25-26. He says, Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed through the forbearance of God.

To declare, I say at this time, his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

That means that the devil has got nothing to say. Man it was that sinned. Very well, it is man that must be punished. Man sinned in the flesh. Sin must therefore be punished in the flesh. And God has done it. Jesus Christ was man. The sins were laid upon him. They were dealt with in his body. The devil is silenced.

He’s got nothing to say. God is vindicated. God is just. But at the same time, he can now justify all who believe in Jesus. But you see, if it had been done in any way except this way Which is that Christ has been sent in the likeness of sinful flesh. The devil could be saying all along, ah, but wait a minute, it all happened in the body.

It happened in human nature, and you’ve got to deal with it in human nature. He can’t say that now because it has been dealt with in human nature. And there is no condemnation. The devil is silenced. So that Paul, later on in this eighth chapter, is able to say, Who shall bring anything against God’s elect?

Who shall bring any charge against God? 

Nobody, 

there is nobody anywhere in heaven or in hell or anywhere else that can bring any charge whatsoever. None.

Because, It is God’s work, it is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth. It is Christ that died yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand, who also maketh intercession for us. It happened in this way. God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh for those reasons, and the greatest of all is the last.

God’s glory is vindicated. God’s honor, God’s justice, God’s righteousness is revealed, manifested, glorified for all eternity because His Son came in the likeness of sinful flesh as man for man. He did the work, and did it perfectly, and God is just. And the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Let us pray.

O Lord, our God, we come again before thee to offer our wondering praise and thanksgiving. O Lord, we’ve been looking into the infinities. Great is the mystery of godliness. We bless and praise thy great and holy name for it. That thy ways are not our ways, nor thy thoughts our thoughts. O God, we thank thee that thou dost allow us to look into these things.

We thank thee for thy word. We thank thee for this particular statement we’ve looked at tonight, that he came in the likeness of sinful flesh. O, we bless thy name for the comfort of knowing that our high priest is of such a nature and a character. That he was in this world, that he endured, he was tried and tempted, buffeted, taunted.

Oh God, we thank Thee, that he, such a one, is at Thy right hand. And that therefore we can come with boldness to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy, to find mercy and obtain grace to help in time of need. Oh Lord, bless these truths to us. We pray Thee more and more. Enable us to see them, to rejoice in them, to rest upon them, to pray on their basis, and ever to be well pleasing in thy most holy sight.

Hear us, O Lord, as thus we offer our thanksgiving. And now, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship and the communion of the Holy Spirit, abide and continue with us, now this night, throughout the remainder of this, our, short uncertain Earthly life and pilgrimage, and until we shall see him as he is, be made like him, and glory throughout eternity

In his presence. Amen 

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