In Romans 8:3, Paul identifies the reason for Christ’s advent — He came “for sin” (ESV). That is, He came for the purpose of addressing the problem of sin. He came for sin because sin was (and is) the great problem of mankind.
We tend to think we have bigger problems than sin. We have too much month and not enough money. Or too many politicians and not enough common sense. Or too much injustice and not enough fairness. Or too much weakness and illness and not enough strength and health. Or too many calendar items and not enough time. Those may all be difficulties or burdens or trials. But they are not our biggest problem.
Our biggest problem is our sin.
Our biggest problem is not something outside of us — like critical bosses and overburdened schedules. Our biggest problem is not something that happens to us — like car accidents, colds, and cancer. We take our biggest problem wherever we go, because our problem is inside of us. All our greatest wounds are self-inflicted, caused by our own sinful inclinations, desires, and actions.
The world system says our problems are outside of us and our solution is inside of us; but the Scriptures say that our greatest fundamental problem is inside of us in our sin, and the solution is outside of us, in Christ.
And that makes Romans 8:3 such great news. Christ came to deal with the greatest affliction of mankind — sin. His fundamental work was as the new Adam and Savior from sin. He did not come with a political agenda. He did not come to correct social injustice. He did not come to heal the sick and lift up the oppressed. He did not come to entertain the bored. He came to deal with sin.
And He did deal with sin, decisively and eternally. What did Christ do to sin? Paul has told us many of the things that Christ did to sin in this letter to the Romans.
He paid sin’s debt to God —“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
He overwhelmed sin by grace — “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20-21).
He conquered sin’s power — “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6).
He put sin to death — “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God” (Rom. 6:9-10).
He condemned sin — “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” (Rom. 8:3b).
Christ did to sin what no man could ever do. Which means, as John MacArthur has said, “To teach that men can live a good life by following Jesus’ example is patronizing foolishness. To try to follow Jesus’ perfect example without having His own life and Spirit within us is even more impossible and frustrating than trying to fulfill the Mosaic Law.”
Christ did not come as our example. Christ came to deal fully and finally with our great problem. He came for sin.