Summary: Makes sense of Paul's comparison of living "by the flesh" or "by the Spirit." Analogy of corrupted computer operating system (inherited corruption/original sin). Focuses on living by the Spirit.
FIXING OUR CORRUPTED OS—Romans 8:1-14
You opened a file in your e-mail, and now you have a virus on your computer. The entire operating system is corrupted, resulting in erratic behavior, broken links, and malware. What do you do?
Adam and Eve opened a door—the door of sin, and an evil virus got into all of humanity. Human nature is corrupted, resulting in broken communication with God, self-destructive behavior, and evil actions. What do you do?
In Romans 7:15-18, Paul describes the effects of his own corrupted nature: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do…It is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my [corrupted] flesh. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
(Note to preacher: Strangely, “sarx” is translated in NIV 2011 as “sinful nature” in Romans 7:18, and literally “flesh” in chapter 8. I changed it to “flesh” in the text above.)
The virus, according to Paul, is SIN—SIN as corruption of his essential nature, leading to individual sins and brokenness. The corrupted operating system is his “flesh”—his human nature, corrupted by SIN. What can we do to fix the operating system? How can we overcome the “virus” which has corrupted our operating system—our “flesh”?
Read Romans 8:1-4.
The “law of sin and death” is not the Ten Commandments, or the Old Testament law in general. It is the operating system of human nature, the flesh, corrupted by SIN, which leads to “death.” It is an operating system with inherent rules and behaviors—much like a computer operating system—and it is corrupted.
How can the human operating system be fixed?
Will a new set of commands fix it? Look around: Does telling people what they should do fix their essential nature, and their behavior?
Will religion—codes of conduct, ceremonies and group cohesiveness—make people right? Look around: Religion doesn’t seem to change people very deeply.
Will a non-religious code of conduct work? ***I see billboards sometimes, advocating for values like Tolerance, Perseverance, Unity, Courage, Love. Do those really change people?**
People are controlled by their own system of values and behaviors. They are influenced by other people as well, sometimes caught up in a herd mentality, following the crowd or their own “tribe.”
Paul recognized the ineffective ness of commands, religion, or secular values, saying that outside influences are “powerless…weakened by the sinful nature.”
Who can fix our operating system, our flesh, ruled by “the law of sin and death”? Can we fix ourselves?
***Your computer is corrupted by a virus, and you can’t access the internet. How are you going to get online to download a fix? You can’t do it on your computer, because your computer is corrupted. That is why a corrupted conscience, corrupted religion, and corrupted social influences can’t fix us.**
Only God can fix us.
Romans 8:3-4 “For what the [OT] 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, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
“God sent his own Son IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH to be A SIN OFFERING.” Jesus was not a sinful man; he never sinned. But Jesus took on the same flesh that is corrupted in every other person in the world. He offered himself (shifting the metaphor) to be vulnerable to the disease of sin and death, so that it could be overcome, providing an antidote for humanity.
“And so he condemned sin in the flesh”—our flesh, humanity’s flesh. He identified sin. He quarantined it, stripping it of absolute power to corrupt.
Therefore, Paul says in verse 1, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are not condemned to death, for Christ has overcome death. But there is more: We are not condemned to sin, because Christ broke the power of SIN—the virus that corrupts our flesh.
HOW DOES THIS WORK FOR US?
Romans 8:2, “…through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Who is this “Spirit who gives life”? The Holy Spirit, of course.
The Holy Spirit was always the Spirit of life. The word “spirit” can also mean “breath,” and the Holy Spirit was the Breath that blew over the waters of creation, to bring life. The Spirit was the power that came upon people in the Old Testament, and the wind that brought dead bones to life in a vision given to the prophet Ezekiel.