Archive for October 2013

“Faith Alone” is NOT the “Instrumental Condition”

October 31, 2013

Faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus is not the cause or condition of justification. Of course I have read discussions about distinctions between conditions, where it is explained that faith is an “instrumental” condition. However a mainline term that may be, I don’t agree with that explanation of faith.

My problem is not that the traditional “instrumental” language can be misunderstood. Any explanation of faith’s necessity that I give can also be misunderstood. I believe that faith in the true gospel (which includes “for the elect alone”) is necessary evidence that a person has passed from a state of condemnation to a state of justification.

This faith in the gospel is not a knowledge that a person has been justified all along, or assurance that a person has been justified from the time of the cross or before a person was born. This faith in the gospel, which includes understanding of the gospel, is the immediate result of being born again, which is the immediate result of being imputed by God with the merits of Christ’s death.

In the false gospel which tells all sinners that Christ died for them, faith is misunderstood as making the difference between saved and lost. Even in cases where the fine print tells you that this making-the- difference faith is a result of predestination and regeneration, the credit for salvation does not go to Christ. The credit may go to the Holy Spirit or to predestination, but it cannot go to Christ, if Christ died for all sinners but only some sinners are saved.

We need to put a stop to the double talk which tells all sinners that Christ died for them, but then explains (not to everybody but only to some who have already professed Christ) later that Christ died for some people to get them something different and more for them than He did for everybody else.

This kind of double talk implicitly says that Christ propitiated the wrath of God for all sinners but that Christ also died extra for the elect to give them the faith to get the benefit of Christ’s propitiation.

In other words, the doubletalk has no antithesis with the false gospel of Arminianism. Since they still want to be thought of as evangelicals, and still want to have influence on evangelicals, many “Reformed” preachers don’t teach the nature and intent of Christ’s atonement. Even if they don’t explicitly say that this was to take away the wrath for every sinner, by their silence about the question, they go along with what everybody already understands, which is that faith alone makes the difference.

They can try to put boundaries around that, and say that the object of faith is important. They can even say that Mormons and open theists are not evangelicals, and maybe not even justified. But they are still agreeing, sermon after sermon, every time that they do not say “ died for the elect alone”, that it is faith alone which makes the difference. And when they do that, there really is no “Christ alone” left.

In the fine print, the glory may go to God for predestinating the Spirit to give us faith. But it is no longer Christ’s death which saves, if Christ died for all sinners, and some of these sinners are lost. And though we may talk of Scripture alone, we end up with a canon within a canon, where what the Scripture says about the elect in Christ and therefore being elect in His death becomes segregated out from the gospel and thus unspoken or denied.

Instead of saying that Christ died only for the elect and not for the non-elect, they leave out the e word and say that Christ died for believers, which then means that faith alone makes the difference and not Christ. If they want to keep the “thoroughly reformed” happy, they might say sometimes that Christ died for his covenant people, but then later they will make it clear that the covenant is conditional and that his people are the believers, so that it will all come back to faith alone.

Your Heart Is Your Mind, and It Will be Dead when You Die, Until Resurrection Day

October 19, 2013

Guard your hearts now, because your hearts will be dead between your death and your resurrection

I Samuel 16: 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 9:4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?

Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Matthew 15:8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;

Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Matthew 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Luke 16:15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Acts 15:9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

Acts 16:14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,

Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Ephesians 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Ephesians 3:16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

1 Thessalonians 2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 5:5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

James 5:8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

1 John 3:20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything

http://www.heavendwellers.com/hd_nt_view_of_human_nature_intro.htm

Reformation Day

October 16, 2013

I always have mixed feeling about Reformation Day. One the one hand, as an adventist who believes that we must all wait for the advent to be conscious together (Hebrews 11:40), I am glad to get away from the premature idea of “all souls day”. On the other hand, as heirs of the radical reformation, we resent the lack of attention to the variety of reformations and to the protestant persecution of anabaptists. We want to talk about the NEW (new covenant, new law, new ethic) and not only about reformation.

Yet I want to take time to remember, not the story of Luther and Calvin, but the significance of our being protestant. Though the Lutherans and Calvinists continue by means of infant water baptism to undermined the doctrine of justification by grace alone, we live in a time when most evangelicals are neither Lutheran nor Calvinist but reassure themselves with their family virtues and patriotic rituals. Reacting what they call “secularism”, the baptists and the mennonites now often sing the praises of the pope and anything that is “religious”.

Let us remember that the pope is still the single greatest cause of Christian disunity. Not only does the pope continue to reject the authority of the Bible and justification by faith alone, but also to insist that any Christian unity must recognize the authority of papal tradition. The success of Calvin and Luther, limited though it was, was that they refused to collaborate or be included in the false unity which taught that the grace of justification was given by water baptism and then maintained by our own works, instead of the death of Christ alone, outside of us. Despite their many failures, at this point we must appreciate the fidelity of Luther and Calvin to the theology of Romans 3:20-21–“For through the law comes the knowledge of sin, but now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed.”

The state Reformers understood that grace through our works is a rebellion against God’s way of grace. Justification through our law-keeping means not more obedience but more sin. Romans 5:20–“But law came in, with the result that sin increased.” Not the knowledge of sin increased; sin increased! The result of unity around the law-salvation of the pope is always more sin. To be protestant means saying that we are justified not by our life together or by our works, but only because of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have “become the righteousness of God in Christ” by God’s imputation of the one man’s obedience, even unto death. The Christian life is not the way we make payments back on our justification; the Christian life is the party the Father gives the returning prodigal. Neither our justification nor our life as Christians depends on our moral progress. Indeed, all our works are only acceptable if we are already justified before God.

This is good news! This is radical grace, not the grace with strings attached and “fine print” later. Our unity depends only on the cross where the son of God died for all those elect sinners who will be called out and gathered as God’s ecclesia. In the days of persecution, some anabaptists met together in little boats out on the river, away from the easy reach of the magistrates. Today our unity does not depend on getting more folks to leave their big barges and climb into our little boats with us. But neither does unity depend on us going ashore where we can be included in their rituals with them. We must not impatiently substitute our idea of unity for the biblical hope of unity.

I Corinthians 15:3 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ…. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep… 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Jesus is already Lord and will reign until He has put all all His enemies under His feet. After the second death, after the death of death, after the end of death, ruling will be ruled out “so that God may be all in all”. Though we remember the failures of the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, let us not ourselves become elder brothers who refuse to enjoy the prodigal’s party. Though we have good reasons not to attend their meetings (see I Corinthians 14), we do well to remember that we are justified in spite of our meetings and our religion, alone by what Jesus Christ did, and not by what Christ has been doing among us. We are not saved because of our faith, because our faith is not Christ’s righteousness, even though our faith is God’s gift to us based on Christ’s righteousness.

Apart from the death of Christ, you and I have no more “spiritual capital” than the pope or the protestants who go to war to support capitalism. Being in this small canoe together is no sign of assurance based on our moral progress! We have been called out, set apart, constituted as holy, but not because God is going to enable us to meet the requirement of God’s law. Our fidelity to anabaptist rules about war, or water, or the Lord’s Supper is not something which can add to or subtract from the complete achievement of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Grace for the woman caught violating family values, parties for parasites back for more money, food for the brothers who send Joseph down to Egypt, this is grace! Grace for the protestants who made martyrs of the anabaptists. Grace for those who used to be legalists who put their hope in their martyrdom rather than in Christ alone! Grace. Grace alone.

The nation-states have always appreciated the moralism of the churches to make for them “good citizens”, but those nation-states have nothing to gain from the good news of grace. The rulers are happy when we repress ourselves in methodist fear of losing our salvation. The NSA and Homeland Security are glad for us to police ourselves. But what do those institutions which operate by the abcs of this age have to gain from our teaching grace, and by our living as though we believed in grace?

William Blake

The Moral Virtues in Great Fear
Formed the Cross & Nails & Spear
And the Accuser Standing By
Cried out Crucify Crucify

If Moral Virtue was Christianity
Christ’s Pretensions were all Vanity

The gospel of justification does not complicate the simple difference between approving and disapproving killing. That is why we are anabaptists, and not only protestants. But the Roman Catholics can have no experience of unity in the gospel until and unless they learn the difference between what they are doing and what God DID (Romans 8:3) to unify all the elect in Christ. And since none of our different churches died on the cross for us, the unity of those who do trust in what God did in Christ does not depend on our keeping each other in the same church.

The Catholics (and most of the “Protestants”) agree doctrinally that the doctrine of grace alone through faith alone is NOT the doctrine on which their church stands or falls. They celebrate their doctrine that their “sacrament” is not what they do but what God is doing. Thus they exclude those of us who read no “sacrament” in the Scripture. Even though they cannot explain rationally their doctrine of “union with Christ”, they still want us to agree that take Christ in by our eating of the bread and drinking of the cup.

Though Roman Catholics and Protestants and Anabaptists may have different doctrines, they all are always attracted to use the violence of coercion for “the greater good”. All three groups tends to be identified with a prescribed set of practices rater than with ideas and doctrines about what God did in Christ.

Is our hope that that these groups will come live in our little canoe with us? Do we “envision” (as missional entrepreneurs) that these folks will “shop” at our church, and see what we see, and do what we do? Or can we learn that faith is God’s gift and not the lack of a rational argument against faith? Faith is not about how much we make ourselves do or how much we can make ourselves believe. Faith is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ causing us to look to Jesus Christ so what we depend on what Jesus Christ already did by His death and resurrection so that we do not depend on what we believe that Jesus Christ is doing in us and in our church.

Grace is not for the nice people, who don’t need it. Grace is also not useful the way parents and politicians want it to be. Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus Christ has already done enough so that we don’t have to con ourselves into believing that God has to “show up” every Sunday in the presence of authorized clergy?

For freedom Christ has made us free. We don’t have to have Jesus “warm up our hearts” in our daily quiet time. Romans 6 even says we don’t even have to sin to get more grace. Romans 5—we stand in grace. We talk about how we do church, because we have learned that it’s a mistake to think that our doing church is God doing church. So now that we know that, what are we going to do? What are we going to do, now that we know that our doing is not what causes God to bless us? II Cor 5:19—not counting their sins against us!

But surely there’s got to be more to life than “merely” that, doesn’t there? More than “only” not having our sins imputed to us? At the end of the day, I say, NOT SO MUCH. Who in our day cares about not having sins credited to them? Who cares about that? Can’t we now get over that basic fact, and get on with it, and concern ourselves now with moral progress? Our sins are not counted against us. Do you hear that anymore? Who in our age now is so selfish and individualistic to still care about if their sins are counted against them? WE ARE. I Am.

But isn’t it dangerous for God to not count our sins against us? Maybe it’s so, maybe it’s not. Maybe there’s a not yet aspect of our justification in which God’s work in us by the Holy Spirit will be brought in as an additional factor, so that we can now still have various forms of motivations, including the beauty of threats and the loss of assurance, and whatever else that works to get us on the move…But the parasites and the prodigals say to the elder brothers, take it up with the Father, who now gives the party…

But wouldn’t it be better now, in the present fight against secularism and liberalism, to keep a stoic stiff upper lip and not “rock the boat” about grace, and accept the “tension” between grace motives and other motives? So what if some works are not done from a clean conscience but done in order to keep clean the conscience clean? Why rock the boat just because grace happens to work for you, when being a pastor of a group which is more than a small sect means that we get along with people who operate out of different motives. .

But those on the shore want to rock our little boat, to turn it over. if you really believe in grace, they tell us, you could get alone with the rest of us, with other doctrines, with other motives. And we say: the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and this little boats is not theirs, though they kill us, though they command us to bring our babies to their big churches, though they cut us off from their “means of grace”. If God has elected those who are predestined to grace, this does not prove that God has predestined them to be the mediators who hand out that grace.

Of course the Magisterial Reformers failed in many ways. They went back to the local magistrate to keep the “peace” which is maintained by the “order” which is ensured by authorized violence. Protestants have not been very gracious. Don’t just look at Lutheran Germany, look at the guns owned by the Protestants of America, at the crusades of armed democracy. In the name of grace, God’s law has been changed, reformed, modified, cheapened, so that the life and example of Jesus Christ can be ignored.

We dare not let the politicians and the teachers of virtue turn the story of Jesus into some general truth about everybody having God for their same father so that we all accept each other, no matter what our motives may be. Philippians 3: Beware of evil workers—“we boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh”. Even though Paul knew that this would mean “sharing in his suffering and becoming like Him” (Philippians 3:10), Paul’s great gain was to “be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the law, but a righteousness that comes through the obedience of Christ.”

My Letter to Mouw about Wesley

October 15, 2013

It seems clear to me, Mr Mouw, that you don’t want to talk about the gospel or the difference between the gospel and your
“shelf-doctrines”. In other words, you either don’t know what the gospel is or don’t know if God needs the gospel to save a sinner, but you do know that the nature of Christ’s atonement is no part of that gospel.

You know that the stuff Dordt was talking about is not gospel. But you can’t say what the gospel is. Perhaps that’s the reason you look to the experience of Mormons rather than to their shape-shifting doctrines.

Even though I agree that we don’t have to talk about Wesley in order to talk about gospel, you don’t seem to want to talk about Wesley, even though you pointed us to Spurgeon talking about Wesley.. All you can do is act surprised that there are some crazy folks out here on the internet who would not fit within the boundaries of Fuller Seminary.

Sure we’re “Reformed” and all (born that way), but if you say the opposite of what Dordt says, there will be no refutation of errors or antithesis. It will merely say that the lies are “inadequate” versions of the same gospel we have.

John Wesley: “The doctrine of predestination is not of God, because it makes void the ordinance of God; and God is not divided against himself directly tends to destroy holiness which is the end of all the ordinances of God. This doctrine tends to destroy the comfort of religion, the happiness of Christianity… This uncomfortable doctrine directly tends to destroy our zeal for good works. … What would an infidel desire more? It overturns God’s justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust. … This is the
blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination! And here I fix my foot. (7:384)

Why didn’t Wesley simply say that Calvinism is “inadequate”?

Wesley: Q. 74. What is the direct antidote to Methodism, the doctrine of heart-holiness? A. Calvinism: All the devices of Satan, for these fifty years, have done far less toward stopping this work of God, than that single doctrine… Be diligent to prevent them, and to guard these tender minds against the predestinarian poison. (8:336)”

We Don’t Have to Turn Worship into Evangelism to Talk about Election

October 10, 2013

Romans 3:18-19–”There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth will be held accountable to God.”

To those who are still ignorant of the gospel, the apostle Paul was not writing about gratitude and freedom. Yes, we tell everybody that those for whom Christ died are thankful and free and pleasing to God. But Paul (see Romans 3:19) also tells everybody —- if you don’t know the gospel and believe it, then you should be shut up to nothing but legal fear, because you are still “under the law”.

If Christ did not die for you, you should be afraid. Being afraid won’t save you. But legal fear is the reasonable response to not knowing the gospel. Because not knowing the gospel means knowing that you are not yet justified and still under the law.

I do not want to preach terror to Christians. But I never assume that everybody is a Christian. Some sinners were elect, some sinners were not elect, and that already. How do you know that you are a Christian? Do we address the people in church as if we are all elect, as those who have been believing the gospel all along? Paul did not.

The Law Was Not the Gospel for Adam, but Christ’s Satisfaction of the Law is the Gospel for Us

October 9, 2013

The real point of the law-gospel antithesis is not “conflict”. It is non-identity. The law is not the gospel. The gospel is not the law. The gospel, however, is about Christ’s satisfaction of God’s law for God’s elect. Though law and gospel are not the same thing, they are not opposed because they never claim to have the same function.

Law says what God demands. Gospel says how Christ satisfied that demand for the elect. The law never offered life off probation: only one sin would put Adam and his seed under its curse, and no matter how many acts of obedience to the law, the law could never promise the life of the age to come.

The law-gospel antithesis does NOT understand Romans 10:4 in terms of abrogation. The “end of the law” is Christ completing all that the law demanded, so that there is no remainder left for the Spirit enabled Christian to do. The gospel says DONE. The gospel does not say “to be done by the life of Christ in the elect”.

Christians sin, and therefore their “fulfillment of the law” (see, for example, Romans 13) cannot ever satisfy the law. But the law will not go unsatisfied.

The law, once satisfied by Christ, now demands the salvation of all the elect. God the Father would not be just, and God the Son would not be glorified, if the distribution of the justly earned benefits were now conditioned on the imperfect faith or works of elect sinners. Yes, faith is necessary for the elect, but even this faith is a gift earned by the righteousness of God in Christ’s work.

This is how the law/gospel antithesis explains Romans 3:31. The law is not nullified but honored by Christ. The only way that its requirements will ever be fully satisfied in the elect (Romans 8:4) is by the imputation of what Christ earned. “

If the law were the gospel, even saying that there’s law (in the garden and now) would be “legalism”. But the law is not the gospel and it was never the gospel. Romans 11:5—“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is not on the basis of works; otherwise grace would not be grace.”

The legalist identifies law and gospel, and then reduces the demand to including what the Spirit does in the elect. But what God does in us (by grace) must be excluded from the righteousness.

The “covenant of works” theory teaches a ”hypothetical gospel” in which Adam supposedly “could have” earned righteousness for others by keeping the law. One clear way to say that the law is not the gospel is to say that the it was not the gospel for Adam either. But the “covenant of works” is not needed for us to keep the law/gospel antithesis, which antithesis is biblical and important.

Romans 8:3-4 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Smeaton, Apostles Doctrine of the Atonement, p 178–”Romans 8:4–That the righteousness of the law would be fulfilled in us. That is so like another expression of the same apostle, that the two passages might fitly be compared for mutual elucidation (II Cor 5:21). This expression cannot be referred to any inward work of renovation; for no work or attainment of ours can with any propriety of language be designated a “fulfillment of the righteousness of the law”.

The words, “the righteousness of the law,” are descriptive of Christ’s obedience as the work of one for many (Romans 5:18). This result is delineated as the end contemplated by Christ’s incarnation and atonement, and intimates that as He was made a sin-offering, so are we regarded as full-fillers of the law…”

Moo comments on 8:4 in NICNT, p482—”Some think that Christians, with the Spirit empowering within, fulfill the demand of the law by righteous living. However, while it is true that God’s act in Christ has as one of its intents that we produce fruit, we do not think that this is what Paul is saying here.

First, the passive verb “be fulfilled” points not to something that we are to do but to something that is done in and for us. Second, the always imperfect obedience of the law by Christians does not satisfy what is demanded by the logic of this text. The fulfilling of the “just decree of the law” must answer to that inability of the law with which Paul began this sentence. “What the law could not do” is to free people from “the law of sin and death”–to procure righteousness and life. And it could not do this because the “flesh” prevented people from obeying its precepts.

The removal of this barrier consists not in the actions of believers, for our obedience always falls short of that perfect obedience required by the law. As Calvin puts it, “the faithful, while they sojourn in this world, never make such a proficiency, as that the justification of the law becomes in them full or complete. This must be applied to forgiveness; for when the obedience of Christ is accepted for us, the law is satisfied, so that we are counted just.”

If then the inability of the law is to be overcome without an arbitrary cancellation of the law, it can only happen through a perfect obedience of the law’s demands. See Romans 2:13 and our comments there.

In the last part of Romans 8:4, the participial clause modifying “us” is not instrumental—”the just decree of the law is fulfilled in us BY our walking not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”–but descriptive, characterizing those in whom the just decree of the law as ‘those WHO walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Paul does not separate the “fulfillment” of the law from the lifestyle of Christians. But this does not mean that Christian behavior is how the law is fulfilled….”

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 work, the just requirement (demand) of the law has been fulfilled (fully met) in those who are joined to Him. This of course is because of the fact that what Christ did, He did as their substitute or representative, and it is therefore counted (imputed) to them as if they themselves did it. (8:4)

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.”

John Gill: “internal holiness can never be reckoned the whole righteousness of the law: and though it is a fruit of Christ’s death, it is the work of the Spirit, and is neither the whole, nor any part of our justification: but this is to be understood of the righteousness of the law fulfilled by Christ, and imputed to us; Christ has fulfilled the whole righteousness of the law, all the requirements of it; this he has done in the room and stead of his people; and is imputed to them, by virtue of a federal union between him and them, he being the head, and they his members; and the law being fulfilled by him, it is reckoned all one as it was fulfilled in, or if by them; and hence they are personally, perfectly, and legally justified; and this is the end of Christ’s being sent, of sin being laid on him, and condemned in him. The descriptive character of the persons in Roman 8:4 is the same with that in Romans 8:1.”