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 fleshRomans 8:3 (NIV, via biblegateway.com)
Graciously, the passage today is only one verse long. Less graciously, it’s a little bit of a doozy. I assume that mnemonics are fairly powerful, even when they leave out a bunch of words. Mnemonics allow us to remember important words, and as we remember the important words, many of the surrounding context words should come back with us. I cannot stress the following enough: if my mnemonic doesn’t seem to work for you, try to create your own. Your goal should be to create an acronym of sorts with the fewest letters possible. You may add letters as needed, but I encourage you to see how absurdly simple you can make it. Then, just let your brain recall the necessary information.
I reduced the first half of the verse (“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh”) to the letters “LPWF.” I remebered that acronym by assigning the silly little phrase “let’s play water frisbee.” I noticed the next section (“God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”) Contained four S’s. So, all I need to remember there is “SSSS” or “4xS,” or something. The last part is easy enough: “And so he condemned sin in the flesh” becomes “CS” as in “Computer Science” or C.S. Lewis.
The law was powerless
Well, what the heck, Law? Are you good for nothing? No.
The moral law keeps us in check. It helps us lead a life that will probably not suffer too many natural consequences for stupid decisions. It teaches us how to interact with others and interact with our flippant and too-oft ephemeral passions. In a lot of ways, the moral law can help us live better lives. But guess what? That doesn’t matter in the long run. We are DEAD in sin. Not BAD in sin. DEAD. DEAD. DEAD. DEAD like the stinkbug that you squashed before you remember why they have the name stinkbug. Deader than your hopes of starring in a sitcom with Betty White (perhaps I’m projecting a little too much.) You can make a dead man look good, but that doesn’t make him any less dead. The moral law means no more to us than eyeliner does to a dead man. It’s not worthless–eyeliner can make a corpse look better, and the moral law can help us act better, but the moral law cannot take us out of our totally depraved state of death. Every last passion we have is corrupted by sin. Every thought and every action. We live in a sinful world and each of us was born with the capacity to commit every atrocity under the sun. You think you’re a good person? What if I told you that I invented a machine that would transmit your every thought and fantasy to people standing around you–with the highest quality audio and sharpest image possible. Would you take that deal? Every part of us has been corrupted by sin. The law is powerless against such deep degradation. The law can make bad people a little better. But it can’t make dead people any more alive.
Again, this topic is one of my favorites to talk about. If only we had a deeper disgust for our sin. If only we had a more appropriate appreciation for the forgiveness and sacrifice of Jesus. The law can’t rid us from our ugly, disgusting, horrifying sin. But what the law was powerless to do…God did.
- For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh
- Becomes “LPWF”
- Becomes “Let’s Play Water Frisbee”
- Becomes “LPWF”
- God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.
- Becomes “SSSS”
- And so he condemned sin in the flesh
- Becomes “CS”
- Becomes “CS Lewis”
- Becomes “CS”
LPWF + SSSS + CS = Romans 8:3