Friday, July 10, 2015

Christ Sent to Meet the Law's Demand for Both Satisfaction and Merit

... that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:4
And so the Apostle's meaning is this; God sent his Son into the World not only to be a Sacrifice for sin, and thereby to condemn sin (by his bearing the Law's penalty due to it); but also, by his active obedience and conformity to the Law's commands, to bring things to this that the righteousness of the Law should be fulfilled in believers. Christ's being a Sacrifice for sin was not sufficient to answer all the ends and demands of the Law; there must be the doing of what it commanded as well as the suffering of what it threatened; therefore Christ was sent for both, and both were accomplished by him. Man in his lapsed state stood in need of two things, * Satisfaction and Merit; Satisfaction, with respect to God's punitive Justice, the expiation of sin by the undergoing of the punishment incurred by it, &c. Merit, with respect to eternal life and the possession of the heavenly blessedness; the measure and foundation of which Merit was the fulfilling of the Law in active obedience: Now both of these are here distinctly spoken unto; Christ for sin condemned sin in the flesh, there's Satisfaction; and he also fulfilled the righteousness of the Law in the stead (at leastwise for the good) of Believers, there's Merit. So that in the words we have a further account of that full benefit and complete Salvation which sinners have by the Lord Jesus: and so much for their main Scope and the general explication of the matter contained in them. [emphasis in the original]
Eighteen Sermons on Romans 8:1-4, p. 567 ( 1672). Thomas Jacomb 


  1. 1. if Adam had obeyed, that was only what Adam was supposed to do\

    2. Adam did not obey (long enough/)

    3. if Christ had only obeyed, that would not have been enough to save lawbreakers

    4. Christ died under the curse of the law (because of sins imputed), not under the blessing of the law

    Steele and Thomas, Romans: an interpretative outline--- “In order to free believers from the guilt or condemnation of sin, God sent His own Son into the world (in a nature like man’s sinful nature, but not itself sinful. See Heb. 2:14-18; 4:15). Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin, and thereby legally put sin away and thus freed His people from its guilt. As a result of Christ’s sacrificial death the just requirement (demand) of the law has been fulfilled (fully met) in those who are joined to Him."

    Charles Hodge---one’s interpretation of Romans 8 verse 4 is determined by the view taken of Romans 8:3. If that verse means that God, by sending His Son, destroyed sin in us, then, of course, this verse must mean, “He destroyed sin in order that we should fulfill the law” — that is, so that we should be holy (sanctification). But if Romans 8:3 refers to the sacrificial death of Christ and to the condemnation of sin in Him as the sinners’ substitute, then this verse must refer to justification and not sanctification.

  2. While a distinction between law and curse tends to put the emphasis on the law in Romans 3:31, Paul’s point in Romans 3:31 accentuates the curse.

    While a distinction between law and curse lays the emphasis on the curse in Ephesians 2, the emphasis in context of Ephesians 2 is the law itself.

    “For I through the law died to the law” mean? Galatians 2:19

    Machen, Notes, p 159 : “The key to the interpretation of Galatians 2:19 is to be found in the sentences, I have been crucified together with Christ, which almost immediately follows. The law, with its penalty of death upon sins (which penalty Christ bore in our stead) brought Christ to the cross; and when Christ died I died, since he died as my representative.”

    Machen: “The death to the law… the law itself brought about when… Christ died that Since He died that death as our representative, we too have died that death. Thus our death to the law, suffered for us by Christ, far from being contrary to the law, was in fulfillment of the law’s own demands. “

    Galatians 3:1 3 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”

    Calvin—“In His death and resurrection, all things are furnished to us, expiation of sins, freedom from condemnation, satisfaction, victory over death, the attainment of righteousness, and the hope of a blessed immortality.”

    Calvin on Romans 4:25 —When we possess the benefit of Christ’s death and resurrection, there is nothing wanting the completion of perfect righteousness.

  3. "It is, perhaps, more correct to say that the righteousness of Christ, including all He did and suffered in our stead, is imputed to the believer as the ground of his justification, and that the consequences of this imputation are, first, the remission of sin, and secondly, the acceptance of the believer as righteous. And if righteous, then he is entitled to be so regarded and treated." Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology

  4. "It has already been remarked that the distinction between the active and passive obedience of Christ is, in one view, unimportant. As Christ obeyed in suffering, his sufferings were as much a part of his obedience as his observance of the precepts of the law. The Scriptures do not expressly make this distinction, as they include everything that Christ did for our redemption under the term righteousness or obedience. The distinction becomes important only when it is denied that his moral obedience is any part of the righteousness for which the believer is justified, or that his whole work in making satisfaction consisted in expiation or bearing the penalty of the law. This is contrary to Scripture, and vitiates the doctrine of justification as presented in the Bible."  - Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology

  5. "I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it." - J. Gresham Machen

    "13. … when justification is sought by the law, the thing required is not the knowledge but the observance of it. We certainly mean not to dispute that the righteousness [perfect obedience] of the law consists in works, and not only so, but that justification consists in the dignity and merits of works. But this proves not that we are justified by works unless they can produce some one who has fulfilled the law. That Paul had no other meaning is abundantly obvious from the context…" - Calvin, Institutes 3.17.13

  6. I had never before read Rom 8:4 other than to say that because I now had the spirit I walked according to the law and was playing my part in fulfilling righteousness.

    At this point I at least have the sense to see that my level of "fulfilling righteousness" has not amounted to all that much.

    And so, the grace message emphasizing the work of Christ encourages me to greater trust. I continually need a savior!
    thanks for this, Jack

    1. Thank you, Todd. It is indeed good news that Jesus has satisfied and fulfilled every aspect of the Law for those who believe in him - both its demand for the penalty of death due to sin and its demand for perfect obedience. Praises to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

  7. Lee Irons---The active obedience of Christ cannot be reduced to the perfect life of Christ, as if it excluded his death. For Christ’s death, Paul teaches in Romans 5:18, was “the one act of righteousness” antithetically parallel to the one transgression of Adam. As he says in Philippians 2:8, Christ was “obedient unto death.”

    Hebrews. 10:1 puts it this way: “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near” (. Hebrews. 7:11, 19) In these contexts, it is crucial that we not think in terms of moral perfection. This is clear when we realize that the term is used of Christ. For example, Heb. 2:10 says that Christ was made perfect through sufferings. And it cannot be said of Christ that he ever was morally imperfect

    Lee Irons---Dispensationalism agrees that the legal ground of redemption is the same in both testaments, but it denies that the object of faith was the same. The object of faith of the Old Testament saints was not explicitly Christ himself, as covenant theology insists. So we must go on to say that the typological function of the sacrifices is not only for us to enjoy as we, from the vantage point of the new covenant, look back upon the old. It was also for the Israelites

    Steele and Thomas, Romans: an interpretative outline: “In order to free believers from the guilt or condemnation of sinChrist gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin, and thereby legally put sin away and thus freed His people from its guilt. As a result of Christ’s sacrificial work, the just requirement (demand) of the law has been fulfilled (fully met) in those who are joined to His death."

    Charles Hodge----"Romans 8:3 refers to the sacrificial death of Christ and to the condemnation of sin in Him as the sinners’ substitute, and Romans 8:4 refers to justification by Christ's death in satisfaction of the law."

    Tom Nettles, By His Grace and For His glory----The idea of an offer based on infinite sufficiency for all sinners involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although Jesus’ death is spoken of as His obedience–and though the concepts of reconciliation and propitiation are defined as activities accomplished in the Father’s setting forth God the Son–when the notion of sufficiency for the non-elect arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s death to what Christ actively accomplished by his infinite divine nature.”