by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 February 19, 2017 Humble, Texas (Download Audio)
(071)Thesis: Those are "sons of God" who are led by His Spirit into an Abba/child relationship.
Introduction: There is a significant amount of confusion in the minds of many because of Paul's emphasis upon the "freedom" that a believer possesses in Christ and the "obligation" that is imposed upon all men by virtue of the nature of creation reality. No amount of freedom in Christ will keep the person who violates creation reality from suffering the consequences, nor is there any amount of obligation to reality that can erase the freedom a "believer" has in Christ. The one is an inescapable reality of divine creation of a world of both mechanical and relational inalterables that contain inescapable consequences; the other is an inescapable reality of divine creation of a relational universe in which Christ sits as Absolute Redeemer so that no relational issues are handled apart from His perfections. For those redeemed, God does not impute their sins to them in a "judicial" sense; and for those not redeemed, no amount of creation-cooperation with the mechanics of creation can generate relational harmony between Creator and creature.
This evening we are going to look into the progression of Paul's argument that the "sons of God" understand this distinction. No matter who, or what, a person is, living according to flesh will kill and living according to The Spirit will bring Life and peace.
I. The Linkage in Paul's Thought.
A. On the one hand, Paul wanted his readers to be clear that life without the Spirit of God will lead to death and that life by the Spirit of God will not only lead to Life, but also to an active pursuit of "putting to death" the praxis issues of the body.
1. At its core, biblical "Life" is exclusively centered upon the harmonious relationship between God and a human being.
a. No other "issues" are involved.
b. No other "persons" are involved.
2. In 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 Paul clearly taught that the body is a major drag upon the believer so that it has to be kept in subjection so that it is not the "boss".
a. The context is exclusively and decidedly focused upon whether, or not, Paul ends up serving God as His "Stewardship Director".
b. This is completely relational and has nothing to do with the "mechanical" creation.
3. In 1 Peter 2:11 Peter also chimed in by saying that the body's "lusts" wage war against the soul so that any healthy relationship the soul has with others requires that the body be denied its "boss" status.
a. This context, likewise, is fundamentally focused upon the relationship sustained by those who have obtained mercy from God.
b. Also, likewise, there is no indication that anything of the "mechanical" is involved.
4. No one in the New Testament says that living by the Spirit will be easy; rather, all declare that a deliberate "faith" must be involved at every point of an incessant oppostion by the forces of evil.
B. Then, on the other hand, Paul obviously felt like his emphasis upon the alternatives of dying or living might compromise the "faith" of his readers as to their identity.
1. He did not have to make the effort to clarify the issue of just who is a "son of God" unless there was a problem.
2. There are several possible problems.
a. There may be a false response to grace (chapter six).
b. There may be a false response to law (chapter seven).
c. There may be a misunderstanding about the degree to which a person who believes in Christ has been exempted from condemnation (beginning chapter eight).
d. There may be a misunderstanding of Paul's use of "sons of God".
C. The follow up on 8:14 in 8:15 indicates that the major problem is the permission of the immutability of creation order to infiltrate one's thinking about the relational order established by Christ.
1. The issue in 8:15 is "fear" that arises out of "a spirit of bondage".
a. The essence of this "fear" is "final relational rejection" so that both relational and mechanical universes are set against the "rejected".
b. The core of this "fear" is that "it is all up to me".
2. The solution is recognition of God as "Abba".
3. This indicates that the major issue is confusion about the difference between being a "slave" of the appetites of the flesh and being a "son" of The Father, who, though often subject to the difficulties of immaturity and self-will and the accompanying discipline from The Father, is yet a "son" if the confusion is handled properly.
II. The Declarations Made.
A. It is the "leading" of God's Spirit that is in play.
1. This immediately raises a major issue: How does God's Spirit "lead" a person?
2. This issue has multiple answers.
a. When the Spirit of God makes a person aware of a "truth", the "awareness" is His "leading".
1) This can come about by a plurality of means (Bible reading, sermons, songs, conversation, etc).
2) The bottom line is the "clarity" that suddenly descends.
b. When the Spirit of God takes away the sense of "Life and Peace" (8:6), this "absence" is His "leading".
c. When the Spirit of God leans heavily upon the conscience regarding an action considered or taken, this "leaning" is His "leading".
d. When the Spirit of God indicates that a "fleshly lust" must be "put to death", this "indication" is His "leading".
e. And then there is the "promise" of divine leading even when there is no conscious awareness of it (Psalm 32:8).
B. Whether, or not, a believer "follows" that leading is the question.
1. Fearful disbelief may be stirred up by the adversaries.
2. Deliberate trust may be stirred up by the encouragers.
C. Those who follow the leading are declared to be "sons of God".
1. The choice of the word "sons" is deliberate.
2. One can be a "child of God", but not a "son"; but one cannot be a "son" without first becoming a "child".
3. A "son" is a real-life mimic of his/her "father".
4. In our text, the "sons" are those who take up the challenge to put the praxis issues of the body to death.