English Standard Version Romans 8:3 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, he condemned sin in the flesh,

New International Version Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,

Notice the variant:

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Romans 8:3 τὸ γὰρ ἀδύνατον τοῦ νόμου, ἐν ᾧ ἠσθένει διὰ τῆς σαρκός, ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν πέμψας ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας καὶ περὶ ἁμαρτίας κατέκρινε / κατέκρινεν τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐν τῇ σαρκί,


5 Answers 5


Sin entered the world by one man, Romans 5:12. With the result that death passed upon all, Romans 5:12. Moreover, the law entered, Romans 5:20.

The entrance of Law into the scenario should have eradicated sin. But the Law was weak through the flesh, Romans 8:3. It wasn’t weak itself. But that through which it would work - the flesh - was weak.

Thus Paul discovers, what I would, do I not; but what I hate, that do I, Romans 7:15. Because sin dwelleth in me. Romans 7:17.

He accuses no-one else of this sin - this inner sin. He only knows of it within himself. He did nothing. There was no outward action. Nobody saw him do anything.

But he coveted. Romans 7:7.

It was a desire. Sin.

Outward actions, wicked deeds, crimes against men, lawless trespasses against God - all these are sins.

Sin, itself, is spiritual

For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal; sold under sin, Romans 7:14.

It is that which is condemned in Christ, Romans 8:3, as in the question.

Kaphar, the Hebrew word usually translated ‘atonement’ is actually a matter of containment. Kaph is the hand, the cupped hand, such as one uses to cup water and lift it to the mouth. Kopher is a village, fenced around : contained.

And that doctrine is seen in the New Testament. The containment of sin.

Sin was contained in Christ ; God hath made him to be sin, I Corinthians 5:21.

Contained in Christ, sin was condemned in him - down to death.

And now it is gone. For every one that is in Christ, baptised into him, sin is eradicated.

  • What do you mean by "sin is spiritual"? Isn't it more "carnal"?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 22:56
  • @Ruminator By one man sin came into the world. And it came by means of a Spirit called Serpent. Sin is spiritual, sir.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 23:07
  • Beg to differ, Nigel. Where does it say that the serpent of Genesis is a spirit? Are you assuming this because it talks, or because someone told you this serpent is the same as the one in Revelations? Genesis 3:1 refers to the serpent as a 'wild creature', not a spirit. Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 0:19
  • @Possibility The serpent was 'more subtle' than any beast of the field. Ergo, not a beast of the field. The Serpent presented logical argument regarding metaphysical concepts. And I wish to leave the matter there. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 0:25

•He condemned sin in the flesh, •He judged SIN unfit for service in the body •He took away the power sin had in the body •He took away the potential authority sin exercised over the body •He took away the potential legal authority sin had in the flesh to conspire with the soul against the spirit

This is ONLY possible IN HIM. You step outside of Jesus and you don’t have that covering and authority. It’s His righteousness, or grace otherwise it’s the Law and no one is justified under the Law.

But being born again (whether we get a new spirit or the existing spirit is quickened) our spirit can communicate with the Spirit and provided we allow the Spirit to guide us in our spirit which gets funneled through the soul to the flesh then we are guided by the Spirit. But if we allow the flesh to overrule our soul (will, (e)motion, mind) then sinful unglorified flesh has its way.

It is paramount to abdicate and surrender completely to the LORD for this to be effective in all areas.


(Add to that any legally binding contract and/or curse... and unclean spirits will exploit that sinful weakness. However technically a Christians has the authority over these unclean armorless bluffers because sin has been condemned. But if you don’t exercise that authority they will squat and if you don’t resist the flesh and crucify it, (crucifixion being in its simplest form immobilization and starvation), it will demand its lustful desires.)

In short He condemned or pronounced judgment against sin from being the rightful possessor of the body any longer. We owe sin nothing. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.


The short answer is that Paul is saying that "Mr. Sin" (sin personified) has been given a death sentence.

Throughout Paul's treatise on the powerlessness of the law to bring about justification (Romans 6-8) Paul personifies sin as an evil intruder who lives in the members of the body. Paul says that the law is powerless because the flesh is unmotivated to obey God:

YLT Romans 8: 3 for what the law was not able to do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, His own Son having sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, did condemn the sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh, the things of the flesh do mind; and those according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit; 6 for the mind of the flesh [is] death, and the mind of the Spirit -- life and peace; 7 because the mind of the flesh [is] enmity to God, for to the law of God it doth not subject itself, 8 for neither is it able; and those who are in the flesh are not able to please God.

In fact, Paul says that Mr. Sin is empowered by the commandments of the Torah to bring about death in the ones trying to obey the Torah (the Jews):

YLT Romans 7: 7 What, then, shall we say? the law [is] sin? let it not be! but the sin I did not know except through law, for also the covetousness I had not known if the law had not said: 8 "Thou shalt not covet"; and the sin ["Mr. Sin"] having received an opportunity, through the command, did work in me all covetousness -- for apart from law sin is dead. 9 And I was alive apart from law once, and the command having come, the sin revived, and I died; 10 and the command that [is] for life, this was found by me for death; 11 for the sin, having received an opportunity, through the command, did deceive me, and through it did slay [me]; 12 so that the law, indeed, [is] holy, and the command holy, and righteous, and good. 13 That which is good then, to me hath it become death? let it not be! but the sin, that it might appear sin, through the good, working death to me, that the sin might become exceeding sinful through the command, 14 for we have known that the law is spiritual, and I am fleshly, sold by the sin; 15 for that which I work, I do not acknowledge; for not what I will, this I practise, but what I hate, this I do. 16 And if what I do not will, this I do, I consent to the law that [it is] good, 17 and now it is no longer I that work it, but the sin dwelling in me, 18 for I have known that there doth not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh, good: for to will is present with me, and to work that which is right I do not find, 19 for the good that I will, I do not; but the evil that I do not will, this I practise. 20 And if what I do not will, this I do, it is no longer I that work it, but the sin that is dwelling in me. 21 I find, then, the law, that when I desire to do what is right, with me the evil is present, 22 for I delight in the law of God according to the inward man, 23 and I behold another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of the sin that [is] in my members. 24 A wretched man I [am]! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?

Whereas the law lacked power, the gospel has plenty:

NIV Romans 7: 6But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. ... Romans 8: 1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set youa free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,b God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.c And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

So the principle of sin and death that held Paul while he was attempting to keep the law had the following effects:

  • the law could not bring about a right standing with God
  • resurrection and empowerment of Mr. Sin (" when the commandment came sin revived and I died")
  • it brought about the death of the ones beholden to it
  • it worked all kinds of inner conflict and moral defeat (concupiscence)
  • it brought about a hopeless slavery

In direct contrast to this predicament gospel produced the following:

  • a right standing with God
  • everlasting life for the believer and a death sentence to Mr. Sin
  • power over Mr. Sin
  • freedom and hope

However, in somewhat of a unique departure for Paul, instead of speaking of salvation from Mr. Sin as a fait accompli he says that Mr. Sin has a "death sentence". The believer has died to sin but Mr. Sin is ever crouching at the door, still alive. He's a dead man walking.

Paul expounds on this by simultaneously describing the whole regime of the new order as being a place of struggle and a place of hope. The believer is never again under a hopeless death sentence, a powerless helplessness or in an insecure relationship with God:

YLT Romans 8: 9 And ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God doth dwell in you; and if any one hath not the Spirit of Christ -- this one is not His; 10 and if Christ [is] in you, the body, indeed, [is] dead because of sin, and the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness, 11 and if the Spirit of Him who did raise up Jesus out of the dead doth dwell in you, He who did raise up the Christ out of the dead shall quicken also your dying bodies, through His Spirit dwelling in you. 12 So, then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; 13 for if according to the flesh ye do live, ye are about to die; and if, by the Spirit, the deeds of the body ye put to death, ye shall live; 14 for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God; 15 for ye did not receive a spirit of bondage again for fear, but ye did receive a spirit of adoption in which we cry, "Abba -- Father." 16 The Spirit himself doth testify with our spirit, that we are children of God; 17 and if children, also heirs, heirs, indeed, of God, and heirs together of Christ -- if, indeed, we suffer together, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory about to be revealed in us; 19 for the earnest looking out of the creation doth expect the revelation of the sons of God; 20 for to vanity was the creation made subject -- not of its will, but because of Him who did subject [it] -- in hope, 21 that also the creation itself shall be set free from the servitude of the corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God; 22 for we have known that all the creation doth groan together, and doth travail in pain together till now. 23 And not only [so], but also we ourselves, having the first-fruit of the Spirit, we also ourselves in ourselves do groan, adoption expecting -- the redemption of our body; 24 for in hope we were saved, and hope beheld is not hope; for what any one doth behold, why also doth he hope for [it]? 25 and if what we do not behold we hope for, through continuance we expect [it]. 26 And, in like manner also, the Spirit doth help our weaknesses; for, what we may pray for, as it behoveth [us], we have not known, but the Spirit himself doth make intercession for us with groanings unutterable, 27 and He who is searching the hearts hath known what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because according to God he doth intercede for saints. 28 And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose; 29 because whom He did foreknow, He also did fore-appoint, conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He did fore-appoint, these also He did call; and whom He did call, these also He declared righteous; and whom He declared righteous, these also He did glorify. 31 What, then, shall we say unto these things? if God [is] for us, who [is] against us? 32 He who indeed His own Son did not spare, but for us all did deliver him up, how shall He not also with him the all things grant to us? 33 Who shall lay a charge against the choice ones of God? God [is] He that is declaring righteous, 34 who [is] he that is condemning? Christ [is] He that died, yea, rather also, was raised up; who is also on the right hand of God -- who also doth intercede for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of the Christ? tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 (according as it hath been written -- `For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long, we were reckoned as sheep of slaughter,') 37 but in all these we more than conquer, through him who loved us; 38 for I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor messengers, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, 39 nor things about to be, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, that [is] in Christ Jesus our Lord.


One of the problems is that people are misunderstanding Paul's definition of flesh and spirit.

Western Christianity has helped to spread Plato's definition of flesh and spirit and that's where a lot of confusion occurs.

Plato Flesh = physical body and world Spirit = ethereal heavenly world

Paul Flesh = ungodly Spirit = godly

*for Paul flesh is anything that is anti christ down from actions, beliefs, feelings, thoughts, behaviors, sickness, death, poverty, lack, etc. It's pretty much every problem, including pride that exhausts itself as either above god or in direct opposition to god.

Example: God wants you wealthy in physical things like houses, cars, money, clothes, etc. The world system of monetary buying and selling is built on scarcity and lack. It gives money value. Since its scarce and built on debt its ungodly. It would be considered flesh to Paul.

Example: God wants you healthy. Anything that makes you sick, age, and die is fleshly according to Paul.

Example: God wants people married, bountiful, happy, respecting and honoring one another and loving each other like you want to be loved. Divorce, infertile, sad, disrespecting, fear and hatred are all acts of the flesh according to Paul.


Flesh means self-centeredness, which is a biproduct of sin. Life in Spirit means God-centeredness. Then what is fall? we moved from God centered life to self-centered life. What did Christ do? God condemned flesh by sending his son (Rom 8:2-3). It means, Jesus allowed his own will to bring it under Gods' will. In contrast to Adam's disobedience that led to self-centeredness, Jesus reversed it by his God-centeredness. Thus, we get the possibility to live a God-centered life.

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