by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 8 Lincolnton, NC December 4, 2005
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
1901 ASV Translation:
12 having condemnation, because they have rejected their first pledge.
I. The "Rejection" of the Younger Widows (cont'd).
A. What is the "damnation", or "condemnation", that comes upon those who "abandon their first faith"?
1. The uses of the word translated "damnation" are helpful.
a. Luke 23:40 tells us that one of the thieves on the cross called what he was experiencing "condemnation"...it was the consequence of his choices in the world of Roman justice. He said it was "what was 'worthy' of our 'practices'." (Romans 13:2 uses the term in the same way).
b. Luke 20:24 uses the term to describe having someone "determined to be worthy of a given punishment" -- i.e., "judgment" is the process of the examination of a person's behavior to see what should be done to him/her.
c. John 9:39 tells us that Jesus came to enforce a decision to blind those who think they can see and to enable sight to those who cannot see...i.e., "judgment" is the actual enforcement of a determination.
d. In Acts 24:25, Paul told Felix that there was "judgment" to come and it made Felix "tremble" (but not "repent"). This thesis of "judgment to come" is a constant in the New Testament (Romans 2:3; 3:8).
e. In Romans 2:2 Paul says the "judgment" of God is "according to truth"...both what He decides and how He responds to His determination in actual treatment of those He has examined.
f. In Romans 5:16, it is "judgment" (the term before us) that leads to "condemnation" (an intensified form of the same term).
g. In Romans 11:33, in a paean of praise, Paul extols the "judgments" of God -- i.e., the "decisions" He makes.
h. 1 Corinthians 11:29-34 uses this term in reference to the "consequences" of "sickness, weakness, and death" that arise out of "eating and drinking judgment to oneself."
i. Hebrews 6:2 makes it clear that there is "eternal" judgment and we already know there is "temporal" judgment.
j. James 3:1 clearly declares the "liability" of those who teach: greater consequences.
k. 1 Peter 4:17 differentiates between the "judgment" that begins with the household of God and that which applies to those who reject the Gospel.
l. Revelation 20:4 says that "judgment" was given to those who sat upon "thrones"...meaning they were entrusted with the "decision-making" that was to be done in the oversight of God's Kingdom.
m. Conclusion: "Judgment" is either the decision that is made out of an examination of the facts, or it is the application of that decision to the experience of the one who was subject to it in some form of "because you did that, this is what will happen to you".
2. There is also the "balance" of theology that must be applied to the question.
a. If "consequences" are completely removed, the entire issue of "decision-making" and "decision-applying" is rendered moot. There is no point to saying "having judgment because they cast off their first faith" if there is nothing there.
b. If, however, one reverts to "Law" in the interpretation of what happens to those who have been "removed from the domain of Law" ("you are not under Law, but under grace"..."blessed is the man to whom God will not impute sin"...), the result is a total confusion of Paul's teaching.
c. Paul is careful to make a distinction in his doctrine between "judgment" and "condemnation". He never lifts "judgment" from the picture of how God responds/will respond to the attitudes, thinking, choices, and actions of people -- without regard for whether they are born-again or without redemption. But, by the same token, he never imposes "condemnation" upon the people of God. The end result of this is two-fold. On the one hand, the spectre of "just condemnation" is forever blotted out of the picture by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; but, on the other hand, the reality of "on-going (even into eternity) decision-making in response to human action" is never suspended at all in any case.
1) This opens the door to "possibility": the opportunity to expand one's experience of Life is before us at all times until we die.
2) This also, however, opens the door to "abuse": the attitude of, "I'll be satisfied to just get in the door," is theoretically possible on the basis of the facts. But, there are two problems here: on the one hand, it is patently untrue that anyone is ever 'satisfied' with minimal Life (if people are 'satisfied' with minimal experience, why is there so much complaining?? -- so the claim is a lie on the face of it); and on the other hand, Paul says that people who say that are giving evidence of never having come to terms with Paul's actual doctrine (Romans 3:8). Jude 4 goes so far as to say that anyone who uses this "excuse" is denying the Lord as an "ungodly" deceiver. This means, then, that there is this reality in the "wilderness of the human heart": men will do almost anything to make it possible for them to pursue death with a clear conscience.