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…
I. THE DIVINE PURPOSE FOR MAN, WHETHER IN THE OLD TESTAMENT OR THE NEW, IS THE SAME. The reader who turns from the one to the other seems to have passed into a new world. The things, such as sacrifices, etc., that seemed of most importance in the one, seem of no importance at all in the other. But under seeming divergence, there is essential unity — a unity that comes to the surface in the text. Here we read of "the righteousness," or better still, "the requirement of the law." Now what was this? Not what it seemed to the great mass of the Jews. Had the Pharisee who prayed, "God, I thank Thee," etc., been asked, he would have given a list of things to be done or avoided. But now and then a prophet caught a glimpse of this purpose. Now it is the Preacher, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter," etc. Then it is Isaiah (Isaiah 58:6, 7). Now it is Micah (Micah 6:8). Then it is David in the fifty-first Psalm, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit," etc. The end of the law was not to make formalists, but good men. And the purpose of God is the same under the Christian dispensation. What God desires is not certain forms, services, emotions, but the renewal of the whole nature, inner and outer.
II. CHRIST HAS COME THAT GOD'S PURPOSE MIGHT BE COMPLETELY ATTAINED. Attained as it never could have been in any other way — that it might be "fulfilled" in us. 'The architect sees in vision a glorious building. As yet it is empty. The masons labour and it is filled full, completed, realised. The father has a dream for his son just starting in life. When the son lives that life and becomes the pride of his father, he fulfils it. What St. Paul means is that our Father has had a dream for us. And that that dream might be accomplished, that we might become good, "God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin." And in Christ He did all that was needed. He condemned sin just where it needs condemning, in the sinner's heart. He made a full and complete atonement. He supplied the mightiest of all motives to a new life in the constraining love of Christ. And He promised the most effectual of all help in the gift of His Spirit. Have we, too, a dream? Do we want to be true children of God? Christ is the only Way. Trust, love, and follow Him, and you shall have "the righteousness of the law" fulfilled in you.
III. THERE IS BUT ONE PROCESS BY WHICH THIS PURPOSE CAN BE ATTAINED. The sphere in which it is to be done is that of active, not of contemplative life. In business and home duties and cares we have to decide whether we will yield to the cravings of the flesh or the promptings of the Spirit. And it is as we walk in that Spirit, and take up our cross and deny ourselves, that we grow up into Christ, become like Him, and God's plan — our perfection and happiness — is fulfilled in us.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: