Rom. 8:4 God’s sanctifying purpose in the law
Salvation in Jesus Christ intiates a new life for believers creating a new Community. According to the Apostle Paul, God’s very purpose in sending us a Savior was so that the requirement of His law might be fulfilled in us. How? Through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit within us (Christ in you). The requirements Paul has in mind are not the same requirements his fellow Jews or the Judaizers would have spelled out (Sabbath, circumcision, etc.). Paul was after all the apostle to the Gentiles. He has in mind the moral law found in the Torah (well summarized in the Ten Commandments). Gentiles were also obliged to fulfill these commands through their faith in Christ and with the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul, however, was not so naïve as to think that conversion to Christianity would result in a perfect life. There is a process to sanctification. The important thing was that believers keep moving ahead in faith toward a life of greater and greater allegiance to their Lord. A perfectly sinless Christian community may not have been in Paul’s mind, but certainly he expected one with a degree of genuine holiness that contrasted with the world around them.
As a missionary who has traveled to many places in the world I have encountered all kinds of Christians. I have to confess that the ones who claimed to be perfect (yes, without sin) were the most obnoxious, proud group of believers ever I had the privilege of fellowshipping with. They don’t pray for forgiveness of sins. Others have so hopelessly opted out of the sanctification process that their lives are little different than those unbelievers who have no moral compass.
According to the Apostle Paul believers were to walk in the Spirit overcoming the lusts of the flesh, moving toward greater sanctification in their new lives in Christ. Grace and mercy had been made available in abundance, obtainable by faith for all who wanted to please the Lord who had delivered them out of a world of immorality. It was their choice. Day by day they could choose to do the will of God as the Spirit gave them direction. To be sure, however, the Apostle Paul knew life was complicated and that they would meet opposition from the world, the flesh, and the devil.