(007)Thesis: The difference between the effective mechanism of our "identity" issues in respect to Adam and Christ is the difference between operating out of "the flesh" and out of actual "understanding".
Introduction: So far in our studies we have seen that Paul's major concern is that "believers" not persist in committing sins and hoping that grace will ameliorate the consequences. This is seen in the way Romans 6 is put together. We have also seen that the root of his argument is that something real has occurred to those who "believe" so that they have genuinely "died" to both The Sin and The Disbelief that Adam foisted upon his "generation" (offspring; race). We saw in our last study that the "death" is a real "separation" from both The Sin and The Disbelief. Since The Sin was the actual eating of a real fruit that generated an automatic and irreversible process of gradual disintegration of the body and its most pertinent impact was "the fear of death" that keeps men in bondage until that fear is dissolved, our "death" to "The Sin" is the dissolution of the fear of the physical death of the body. And, since The Disbelief was the submission of the whole person to the idea that God does not mean what He says and its most pertinent impact is the permission of a dominating spirit of "The Disbelief" to pervasively invade man's heart and mind, our "death" to "The Disbelief" is the return to "Belief" in the promise of The God, as opposed to the adversary.
This evening we are going to pursue this idea that our "death" to these realities is, itself, genuine. We are going to start with Paul's question: "Or are you ignorant that...?".
I. Ignorance And Its Implications.
A. Romans is the predominant New Testament user of the concept of "ignorance".
1. Paul referred to "ignorance" and its consequences twice as many times in Romans than in any other New Testament book.
2. In respect to "ignorance", Paul clearly saw some serious, built-in, consequences.
a. 1:13 refers to the ignorance of the Romans to Paul's "oft times efforts" to come to them, the consequence of which would be to take Paul's letter lightly.
b. 2:4 refers to "ignorance" that God's goodness is designed to lead to repentance, the consequence of which would be to take His goodness as a sign of His approval.
c. 6:3 is our current text in which the consequence is to continue to sin, hoping that grace will erase the consequences.
d. 7:1 questions the "ignorance" of those who do not realize that the Law only has an impact upon those yet alive under its dominion, the consequence of which is to live "under the Law" even though it no longer has any dominion over us.
e. 10:3 refers to the "ignorance" of those who are unaware of God's method of righteousness so that they go about trying to establish a different method, the consequence of which is that they will be eternally rejected by God.
f. 11:25 says that "ignorance" can lead to being "wise in your own conceits", the consequence of which is to have God as an adversary rather than a helper.
B. There are at least three major implications to Paul's question of "ignorance".
1. There is the one already established: there are inescapable consequences.
2. Then there is another one: ignorance must be eliminated.
a. The most straightforward issue of "elimination" is "information".
b. But, this most elemental issue must be understood as morethan mere information.
1) The eliminating information must be embraced as desirable: a thing to be loved at the levels intimated by Romans 10:9-10.
2) The eliminating information must be embraced as absolutely true: a matter to be believed to the point of the willingness to be guided by it, regardless of competing issues like "fear".
3. And then there is the most significant one of all: ignorance clearly introduces a totally different methodology for "living" when understood as "making decisions and taking actions".
a. In Adam, the methodology is, more or less, automatic acquiescence to the impulses of what Paul calls "the lusts of the flesh and of the mind" in Ephesians 2:3.
b. In Christ, the methodology is deliberate submission to the Values and Truths of God as they are gradually and more deeply understood by what Paul calls the "transformative power of the renewal of the mind" in Romans 12:2.
c. One of the chief differences in these methodologies is most easily seen in terms of the long range results.
1) In Adam, "ignorance" sets a person up for a gradually destructive experience that finally results in "death" and "Death".
2) In Christ, "understanding" sets a person up for a gradually improving experience of "life" unto "Life".