by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1 April 24, 2016 Humble, Texas (Download Audio)
(001)Thesis: Is our current "doctrine" of how we are to live a submission to the inevitability of "sinning" and a corollary of permissibility?
Introduction: As we begin our study of this section of Romans, we must understand that we are jumping into a flowing stream with a significant amount of information having already passed us by. However, since the opening of this section begins with a question that includes at least a part of that downstream information, we will be looking into some of what is required for our understanding.
Paul began this section of Romans by asking a question that, on the surface of it, is frankly ridiculous. His question is this: shall we continue in the sin? and he meant by it, shall we continue "sinning"? Since, for any sensitive believer, the idea that we should continue to live in sin, and sins, is ridiculous, the first question we have to ask is why Paul would even go there to begin with. So, that is where we are headed this evening.
I. The Cruciality of the Question.
A. Paul's "What therefore shall we say?" is a direct call for a "doctrinal" conclusion.
1. The word so translated is used eleven times by Paul in Romans.
2. Nine of those times Paul is either calling for a "doctrinal" conclusion to information already set forth, or challenging a "doctrinal" conclusion that is faulty.
a. The idea of the question is not what we shall "say", but what we shall "conclude".
b. Thus, Paul is asking for a conclusion to be drawn regarding a doctrine already established and the resulting conclusion, then, becomes a part of the doctrinal formulation of truth by which believers are to live.
3. Thus, whatever the proper conclusion is, it is to become a part of the way we see life in terms of its identity and function.
B. It is because Paul is calling for a critical doctrinal conclusion that the question is crucial: how we answer it will dictate how we live afterwards.
II. The Rationale For the Question.
A. The idea that believers are to settle into an easy acceptance of "sin", both as a root and a fruit, is patently ludicrous.
1. What would be the point of a "salvation" that does not "save" us?
a. "Salvation" is not only deliverance from the wrath of God, a concept that is not insignificant, but is incomplete.
1) This concept would reduce all of the benefits of "conversion" to those obtained by the thief on the cross: presence in Paradise, but nothing more.
2) This concept totally renders all New Testament teaching both ineffectual and deceitful.
b. Paul's doctrine of being "in sin" is not a doctrine of the occasional fault of otherwise OK people: it is a doctrine of being enslaved to sin so that no righteousness can result.
2. What would be the point of "instruction" with "godliness" as a goal if believers are to settle into an easy acceptance of "sin" as both root and fruit?
B. However, the question is pertinent, or Paul would not have raised it.
1. Paul is not "into" raising non-issues.
2. Something Paul has said has laid some form of a foundation for the question to arise.
a. The first part of what might mislead is 5:19.
1) In this text, Paul used a verb that means "to set someone/thing into a position of function for which that someone/thing has been effectively qualified" (Matthew 24:45).
2) In this text, Paul used this verb twice with the same meaning.
a) Adam's action effectively qualified his progeny to be "sinners".
b) Christ's action also effectively qualified His progeny to be "righteous".
3) This declaration would, of itself, render Paul's question ridiculous since it would be impossible for "saints" to sin.
4) But Paul used the future tense of the verb, strongly implying that the action would only be realized in the future.
b. The second part of what might mislead is 5:21.
1) Sin's "rule" in the death is/was absolute.
2) Thus, we might think that the "rule" of grace through righteousness should also be absolute.
3) But Paul used the subjunctive mood of the verb to, at best, posit a potential that might, or might not, be realized.
c. The third part of what might mislead is Paul's concept of "bondage to sin" as an absolute.
1) If bondage to sin is an absolute, and the dominion of grace is only to be potential and particularly futuristic, why not just settle into "sin" and await that future?
2) In fact, if bondage to sin is absolute and deliverance is only in the future, it is foolish to struggle against the inevitable.
d. The fourth part of what might mislead is Paul's declaration that grace superabounds when sin abounds.
1) If God is going to step in with grace everywhere sin is expressed, there is really no long-term damage to "sin", so why fight it?
2) And if grace is going to superabound, why not let it?
III. The Pertinence of the Question.
A. How we answer the question will determine the quality of our experience in both time and eternity.
B. That there is another answer that rejects the hopelessness of a life of abiding in sin means that if we "get it", our experience of "Life" can begin now.