Description: This talk looks at what it means when it says God condemned sin in the flesh. Sin in the flesh occurs when we act independently of God.
Independent Life of the Soul – edited by Mary
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Do you remember the night that the servants of the high priests arrested Jesus in the Garden
Gethsemane? You remember the scene and then coming into the garden and surrounding him and his
disciples? Now, there was an incident that took place then and I’d ask you to look at it with me
loved ones, it’s John 18:10-11. The high priest followers have surrounded the disciples and Jesus
and then in John 18:10, “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s
slave and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your
sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?’” Now what was the
cup which the Father had given him?
Well, if you see that you’ll find it in Matthew 16 where he had explained it carefully to Peter long
before that incident took place. Matthew 16:21, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying,
“God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind
me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.’”
So Jesus knew that God had a plan for his life and he was determined to drink the cup of that plan
to the last drop. But Peter rebelled against the whole plan and felt, “No, Jesus don’t die stay
alive as long as possible and liberate the Jews from the Romans.” And so Peter rejected the plan
that God had completely and was determined to ensure that his plan would be executed by the strength
of his own strong right arm and that was the situation in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Now loved ones that is sin in the flesh. That is sin in the flesh, independent action by ourselves
on the basis of our own needs for self preservation, absolutely independent of what God wants and
using our own power to bring it about. That’s sin in the flesh, you see. You remember, we came
across it last Sunday because in Romans 8:3, it says, “That God sent Jesus and he destroyed sin in
the flesh in Jesus.” Now sin in the flesh is just Peter’s action in the garden. It’s action and
attitudes within ourselves that are motivated by priorities of the body’s need for self preservation
and self gratification independent of what God wants.
Now I think some of us who are activist are prone to say, “Ah, that’s it! Sin in the flesh is
action and today’s study walking in the spirit is doing nothing, leaving it all up to God.” Well
no, you know Jesus did plenty. I mean, he healed lepers, he rebuked the religious leaders, and he
carried his own cross, and he turned over the tables of the money lenders. So walking in the spirit
is certainly action but sin in the flesh is action that is motivated by our own selfish desire for
things, for pleasure, for power, and influence. That’s what sin in the flesh is. It’s action and
attitude that is independent of God, that is for our own benefit, and is motivated by the old body’s
need for things, and for pleasure, and for security. That’s what sin in the flesh is and really
that’s what God is opposing in Jesus.
And going back to last Sunday’s verse, some of you may say, “Well, why did he destroy sin in the
flesh?” Well maybe you should look at the verse because some of us weren’t here last Sunday and
maybe you should get the continuity for today’s study, Romans 8:3 dear ones, it mentions this sin in
the flesh. Romans 8:3, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending
his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” Some of us
may say, “Well, going back to that verse I mean, why did God have to condemn sin to destruction in
the flesh?” Well the answer is that we men and woman had been operating that way for so long over
so many centuries that we have actually managed to twist our own personalities so that they only
work that way.
That’s it. Somebody comes at us with a sword; we take out our sword and cut the ear off. We’ve been
operating that way so long that our personalities have become twisted and forced into a rut whereby
they always work from the body’s fear mechanism, or the body’s need for security mechanism, or the
body’s need for comfort and pleasure mechanism work from the outside in all the time. It’s been
going for centuries like that. You remember what happened with Cain and Abel way at the beginning.
Cain and Abel were two brothers, they brought two sacrifices to God but God judged that Cain’s heart
was not truly penitent and Abel’s was and so he refused Cain’s sacrifice. Cain, kind of casual
like, “Would you like to come out into the field with me Abel?” And then, just takes out his sword
and kills his brother. Then when God says to him, “Where is his brother?” He says, “Am I my
So that was from that early stage but loved ones, the whole race has been operating that way for
generations. So much so that we have developed personalities that are twisted so that’s the way
they automatically operate. So we try to do what God wants us to do but our whole personalities have
been rutted into that kind of activity for so long that they are now hopeless reversed and perverted
and the only way God can give us any chance to do what he wants is to destroy that old reverse
You’ll find the same line again, you know, and you’ll see yourself in this one, with Jacob you
remember Jacob and Esau? You remember Jacob had conned his brother Esau out of his inheritance as
an older brother. Then, years later he heard that Esau was coming with many, many men to meet him
and so look at Jacob’s action. If you look at it in Genesis 32:11, and first you see he tries to do
it the way God wants him to, he prays, “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from
the hand of Esau, for I fear him, lest he come and slay us all, the mothers with the children.” So
he did make the effort to do the thing right, to go to God first and say, “Lord, I did the wrong
thing in regard to my brother. Will you protect me now?”
But it’s like ourselves you know, we say a prayer and then we think, “We better stack the deck the
right way anyway just in case the prayer doesn’t work,” and you get it in Genesis 32:13. “So he
lodged there that night, and took from what he had with him a present for his brother Esau, two
hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milch camels and
their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty she-asses and ten he-asses. These he delivered into
the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants,” as usual you know our
own system becomes highly complicated, “Pass on before me, and put a space between drove and drove.’
He instructed the foremost, ‘When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong?’”
And you can get our old system in it, we’re always manipulating and every time we manipulate
everybody has to say just the right word you know, “Don’t tell him it this way tell him it this
way.” “To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these before you? Then you
shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover
he is behind us.’ He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves,
‘You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, and you shall say, ‘Moreover your servant
Jacob is behind us.’ For he thought, ‘I may appease him with the present that goes before me, and
afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.’” That’s sin in the flesh.
Not necessarily doing anything wrong you see, sin in the flesh is not necessarily murdering people,
or committing adultery, or committing fornication. Sin in the flesh is just acting independent of
whether there’s a Creator or whether there is not a Creator, independent of what he wants from my
life or what he doesn’t want, but acting on the basis of the old body desires for pleasures,
security, and power over other people. That’s loved ones, what sin in the flesh is and the truth is
we have a human race have been acting that way so long that our personalities are hopelessly twisted
into that direction.
And so for God to get us to operate the other way he has to first of all deal with this miserable
twisted perverted personality. And you know, some of you know, the diagram but it’s a fast way I
think, of reminding you of it but that was the way our personalities were supposed to work there.
And it was God’s plan that we would always operate that way. We would operate by praying to him as
Jacob tried to in the beginning in asking God what he wanted. Then he would give us the life of his
Holy Spirit in communion with him and would, through the intuition of our spirits, guide us as to
what we should do and then our conscious would constrain our will on the basis of that guidance and
direct our mind and emotions so that they would understand God’s will for us.
Our emotions would experience the joy of doing it and we would pass it on through our bodies to the
world and express it through our bodies to the world. And that was God’s plan for us, that we would
operate that way. Now of course, we kept rejecting that, we kept acting as Cain did on the basis of
security, or jealousy, or pride, on the basis of Jacob his fear of his brother, on the basis of
Peter let’s get our own way, our own judgment is right in this instance and we began to operate the
personalities the other way completely. And so we began to be dominated by our minds and emotions
and they in turn were dominated of course from here by the needs of the body and we began to
concentrate on doing things that would give us enjoyment, that would give us control of other
people, that would exploit our flesh and give us a sense of thrill in that area.
And so our whole personalities have been reversed and perverted and now that’s why God destroyed sin
in the flesh. He took our whole personalities, put them into Jesus and destroyed that old
personality there and that’s really what that means. That that was the way we operated and God took
that personality that operated from the outside in from the body and its desires, and its needs, and
its necessities, and put it on the cross and destroyed it and raised us up as a new personality.
And that’s what God has done.
What we shared last day was that God has done that with every one of us. He has destroyed sin in
the flesh. He has destroyed that old personality that worked the wrong way around. In other words
really, he took Peter’s old desire to retaliate immediately somebody attacked him and he put it into
Jesus. And even though Jesus could have had any time called millions of angels to his aid yet when
the Roman soldier put the spear into his side he accepted it and refused to retaliate on the basis
of the needs of his own body and the desire of his own mind and emotions to protect himself. And in
doing that he destroyed Peter’s powerful retaliatory force inside his personality. And so he made
it possible for Peter to receive a new personality and that’s what he has done with each one of us.
He has taken that old personality of yours that has been used to operating the other way for years;
he has put it into Jesus and destroyed it there.
Now loved ones, here’s a question if Peter just believed that would he fulfill God’s will for his
life? That is, if Peter said, “Well, I believe that my old desire to retaliate was crucified with
Jesus. I believe that. Okay now Lord, does that satisfy you?” God would have to say, “No. I
destroyed your old contorted perverted personality so that you would be able to obey me. It’s not
enough for you to just believe that I removed this old personality that prevented you obeying me out
of the way. I have done that so you will obey me, so that you’ll take advantage of the new
personality I’ve given you. So that you’ll take advantage of the death of your old self and old
flesh in Jesus and you’ll begin to obey me. In other words, the reason I took your old perverted
personality and put it into Jesus and destroyed it was to stop you cutting off people’s ears. That
was why I did it. It wasn’t so you’d carry on saying as you took the 25th ear off, the 25th of the
high priest guard, ‘Oh well, I believe my personality has been destroyed in Jesus.’ No, I did it so
that you would stop cutting off ears and so that you would take advantage of the new personality
that I have given you.”
Now loved ones, many of us I think have a misapprehension about this. I think many of us think, “Oh
no, you’ve got it wrong. Jesus died to his desire to retaliate against the Roman soldiers. Jesus
destroyed my old selfish personality in himself and the perverted drive of my psychic and of my
spirit so that I would not have to do it myself. So Jesus fulfilled the law so that I do not have
to fulfill it.” Now loved ones, there are people down through the centuries that have been called
antinomians. Antinomians, anti and “nomos” is Greek for law and anti is against the law and there
have been people down through the years who have been antinomians and have said, “No, no Jesus
destroyed the selfish drive in himself and obeyed God’s law so I wouldn’t have to do it any longer.”
And they will say, you see, you don’t need to do anything. You just need to believe that your old
personality has been crucified with Jesus and that’s enough and you can do what you like then. You
can live how you please because the important thing is Jesus has fulfilled the law for you.
Now of course, it just contradicts the ideas of our own logic but it contradicts also this verse
loved ones, that we’re studying today so maybe you’d look at it and we’ll just take it word-by-word.
Romans 8:3-4, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own
Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” For what purpose?
So that we would not have to do anything else but believe? No, “In order that the just requirement
of the law might be fulfilled in us,” that’s why God did it. God destroyed the old carnal reversed
personality that we have that has made it impossible for us to obey him; he destroyed that in Jesus
in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.
Now an antinomian would read that verse you see and say, “Oh no, the verse is wrong, the Greek is
wrong. The word is not in; it is in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled
for us.” No, it’s that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. You can’t go home
and lose your temper with your wife. You can’t go home and tell lies about the missed assignment
and say, “It’s okay, Jesus has fulfilled that law for me so I don’t need to fulfill it.” The fact
is loved ones; Jesus wants to fulfill the law in you not for you. What Jesus did for you was to die
for you so that God could take your miserable perverted personality, put it into Jesus and destroy
it there and make a new beautiful personality available to you that was adapted for God’s original
purpose of working according to his judgment and by his power.
That’s what Jesus did for you, but he did that for you so that the righteous requirement of the law
might be fulfilled in you. And I think some of us you see, who have been brought up maybe under a
kind of antinomian teaching, we will react and say, “Ah, that’s work righteousness. You’re saying
we have to do something, we have to do something.” Well no, not really loved ones, it’s the passive
voice you see. The verb is in the passive voice there in Romans 8:4, “In order that the just
requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” In other words, I’m right with you. You have no
more power to obey God’s law after your old self has been destroyed in Jesus than before it was
destroyed. You can’t obey God’s law yourself it has to be fulfilled in you by the Holy Spirit of
So it’s the Holy Spirit of Jesus that obeys the law but he does obey it in you. So you know you
can’t afford to say to your mum or your dad, “Yeah, yeah I know I lost my temper but it’s okay Jesus
in some ephemeral place in the seventh heaven is obeying the law for me and it doesn’t matter what I
am doing down here.” Because your mum and dad have every right to say, “No, no, the teaching is
that Jesus is obeying it in you. And if he’s obeying it in you it’s probably that I’ll be able to
perceive it.” And so Jesus’ Spirit fulfills the law in us.
But that’s the purpose of it loved ones, that we would express and let Jesus express his obedience
to the law through us. And that’s why God destroyed that old perverted self, so that the law might
be fulfilled in us. Really, what we’ve to do is let him. So it’s a wee bit like somebody buying
you a new electric carving knife for Christmas. And you put it up on the shelf and you have the old
knife and you take it and you just throw it out into the garbage bin and you realize no more sawing.
Then you sit there and you say, “Well, I believe that old knife has been thrown out and I believe I
have a perfectly new knife that will enable me to cut just efficiently and just with absolute
freedom and relaxation. I believe it.” And you just look at the old roast sitting there and you
expect any minute to see it falling into slices. And it doesn’t matter how much you believe, it
doesn’t matter how much you believe the old knife has been thrown away and you’ve got a new knife,
if you just keep believing and sitting there that meat will never be cut.
That’s one mistake I think some of us make. We say, “Oh, it’s enough just to believe that my old
personality is gone.” It’s not enough. You have to take advantage of the new personality that is
there. On the other hand, there’s no point either in getting the carving knife down, sticking the
knife in and going to it just sawing back and forward the way you used to in the old days with the
old knife because it’s just going to be as hard as ever. There’s no point in doing what you used to
do to get the meat cut, and yet you do have to do something.
You don’t have to do what you used to do with the old knife but you do have to do something. You
have to flick the switch. So it’s not right to say, “We don’t have to do anything.” It is right to
say, “We don’t have to do what we used to do. We don’t have to saw that old meat the way we used
to.” But we do have to flick the knife. Otherwise, the power that is available there will never do
its work as it was meant to. And loved ones, it’s the same with us. Your dead right if you’re
having trouble obeying God, you’re dead right when you say, “I can’t. I can’t.” You’re right.
Your old personality has been so used to acting from the outside and from the needs of the body
inside that unless you get rid of that old selfish reverse personality you won’t be able to obey
God’s law at all.
But the important thing to see is once you believe that it has been destroyed and that there is a
new personality available to you in Jesus, then you do have to flick the switch. You do have to let
the Spirit of Jesus begin to run your life. So it’s right, you don’t have the old legalistic
concentration on every jot and tittle of the law to make sure, “I don’t go wrong here, I don’t go
wrong there.” You don’t have to legalistically try to fulfill the law like that but you do have to
do something, you have to let the Holy Spirit of Jesus begin to operate in your life. And that of
course often means letting him express love through your body to somebody else instead of exploiting
somebody else’s body for the sake of your own.
It does mean that you have to often be content with experiencing just the joy of letting Jesus’ life
flow through you and stop looking for more and more enjoyment from circumstances, and situations,
and other people. It does mean you’ll have to be content for your mind to concentrate on
understanding God’s will and God’s plan for you instead of using your mind to control and manipulate
other people for your own purposes. So it does mean letting the Spirit of Jesus flow through you
and that means rejecting once and for all the old reverse personality that has been crucified with
And loved ones, do you see how you do that in Romans 8:4, “In order that the just requirement of the
law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
That’s how you flick the switch, by walking not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
By walking not according to this direction from the outside in but according to this direction from
the inside out beginning at last to give up concentrating on the law and obeying it and avoiding sin
and begin instead to pay attention to this dear new friend that is inside you called the Holy
And when he tells you to speak, to speak; when he tells you to turn, to turn; when he tells you to
be silent, to be silent; and to start listening to him and running your life by this Holy Spirit.
And then one day you’ll glance around and you’ll suddenly find to your surprise that the just
requirements of the law are being fulfilled in your life and you never thought about fulfilling them
you’ve just been so busy concentrating on this Holy Spirit. Now that’s God’s plan for us.
What I’d like to spend the next seven weeks doing is talking about how to walk after the Spirit and
not walk after the flesh. But that’s the secret, walking after the Spirit. That’s how to come into
victory and deliverance. So will you think loved ones, of some of those things and just see if
there has been some misunderstanding in your own mind or some deception that Satan has brought and
just get it straight in your own heart so that we can really get down to business these next couple
of months and talk about how to walk after the Spirit and not walking after the flesh. Let us pray.
Dear Father, we thank you that you have done all in Jesus’ death that needs to be done. We thank
you Lord that you did it so that you would be able to see your law fulfilled in our lives. So that
our friends would be able to meet people who are kind, and gentle, and loving, and understanding,
people who are free from that jealousy and anger, critical resentment. So Father, we trust you now
to make it clear to us that you have done everything that was needed to change our personalities and
we can afford to trade that old personality in now for the new one that you have given us in Jesus.
And Father, we know that old personality has been crucified and done away with forever and we know
that this new one will work only as we follow this dear Holy Spirit that you have given us. So Holy
Spirit, we would give ourselves to following you and walking after you in these coming days. And we
know that incidentally as a result of that we will end up fulfilling the law. Dear Father, we trust
you to make all these truths real in each one of us in these coming days for Jesus’ glory, Amen.