by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10 August 21, 2011 Dayton, Texas
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
1901 ASV Translation:
19 For I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
21 I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought.
I. Paul's Response to Hypocrisy.
A. He "saw" that their behavior and the Gospel were in opposition.
B. He "said" to Cephas in the presence of all... . Paul determined to address the problem in public because it was not only a distortion of the Gospel, it was also a public humiliation for all of the Gentile brethren.
1. If you, being a Jew, are living in the manner of a Gentile and not in the manner of a Jew, how do you compel the Gentiles to live as Jews? [See the Study Notes for July 3, 2011(097)].
2. We [are] by nature "Jews" and not "sinners" from among the nations [See Study Notes for July 10, 2011(099)].
3. But knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith of Jesus Christ... [See Study Notes for July 17, 2011(101)].
4. ...even we believed into Christ Jesus in order that we might be justified by faith of Christ and not by works of law... [See Study Notes for July 31, 2011(103)].
5. ...because by works of law shall no flesh be justified [See Study Notes for July 31, 2011(103)].
6. Now, if seeking to be justified in Christ we are found also ourselves sinners, do we conclude that Christ [is] a servant of sin? Absolutely not [See Study Notes for Aug. 7, 2011(105)].
7. If I build again what things I destroyed, I establish myself as a transgressor [See Study Notes for Aug. 7, 2011(107)].
8. For I through law died to law in order that I might live to/for God.
a. This is Paul's alternative doctrine (the non-self-destructive Truth).
b. The essence of this argument is that "living for God" requires the death of the relationship of a man to "law".
1) It is essential to Paul's argument that "law" be completely removed from the arena of motivation.
a) This raises the question, "What is law?" in Paul's mind.
i. To begin, "law" got its essential identity at its inception on Mount Sinai. In that place, and at that time, God was producing a "national constitution" that was a "deal" between Himself and the nation He had formed in the womb of Egypt. In that "deal" there was to be a clear cut reciprocity between Himself and the people of the nation: He would be the provider of what they needed; and they would be loyal subjects who did what they were commanded. In the "deal" the principles of "Justice" were laid out so that "obedience" got its "reward" and "disobedience" got its "punishment". At the very core, "Justice" was magnified to the ultimate position of final authority. In any case of contention, "Justice" would determine the details and execute its determinations. The problems were two: God could not live with "Justice" because of His "Love"; and Israel could not live with "Justice" because of his lack of "Love". As Israel obdurately pursued his lack of "Love", God often bent over backwards to be "un-Just" in "Love" simply to keep from destroying Israel. Under this scenario, "Law" was incapable of success. Thus, we conclude that "law" was a "deal" between two of oppositional values (Love for others vs. love for oneself) with "Justice" as the governing authority at all points of contention.
ii. But, "law" cannot be only the presence of "governing principles" because in Galatians 6:7-8 he told the very people that he had commanded to stand firm in the liberty they have in Christ that if they sow it, they will reap it. That means that "law" must be something different from "cause and effect". We get a strong sense of what his concept of "law" is from Paul's comments in Romans 2:12-15. In that context he makes the case that "law" is what men see as "moral imperatives" that carry justification/condemnation" consequences with them. At the root seems to be one reality: the presence/absence of God's beneficent activities. The "justified" get to have God acting on their behalf; the "condemned" are relegated to an absence of God's actions on their behalf and the presence of God's punitive actions against them. Thus, "law" seems to be a situation wherein a relational reality with God (in a positive sense of His presence and action) is contingent upon the human practice of what men see as the moral imperatives of life.
iii. At some point, the issue of law's failure must be understood in the light of man's unregenerate condition ("ye are a stiffnecked people -- Deuteronomy9:6) and God's lack of provision of a "legal" (Galatians 3:21) supply of regenerate motivation within man. Law's failure was couched in the fact that it applied to man from the outside coming in and there was nothing within man to provide a loving response from the inside going out. For this cause, the "new covenant" solution was a divine inscribing of "law" upon the heart of man so that there was a "something" within that could produce the required overt behavior (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
b) What, then, is it to be free from "law"? It cannot be the issue of "moral imperatives"; they will exist as long as God does. It cannot only be the divine reaction to human action because, in relationships, there will always be an action/reaction reality. Thus, it has to be the issue of God's demands/ responses toward those who have no basis for responding to His demands by refusing to violate the moral imperatives. If His response is "condemnation", the basis for that will be "legal evaluation" in the light of God's relational reaction. If His response is something other than "condemnation", the basis for that will be His refusal to subject men to a "legal evaluation for the purpose of determining the issue of divine response".
c) As long as a man "must" do something because the negative consequences of God's reaction are at stake for not doing so, his behavior cannot escape the taint of self-interest. The divine imperative of "Love" permits only one basis for godly motivation: the issue of true (eternal) benefit for someone beyond oneself. The core of divine Love is its selflessness. God has never done anything that had its roots in His own interests, nor that had its fruits in His own benefit. It is simply impossible for God to view anything in terms of a Self-directed vision.
d) Summary: "Law" is God saying, in effect, "I will have nothing positive to do with you as long as you do not obey Me, and I will punish you". Man is "under" law as long as he views his "Life" as the result of his obedience. To be "free from law" means, then, to be in a relationship with God wherein He refuses to allow Justice to be the final arbiter and men have a different basis for their treatment of God (an active faith, written upon their hearts, in His love that stirs their love).
2) The issue: death to Law through Law. In order for "law" to be completely removed from the arena of motivation, man must, in Paul's terminology, "die to law". But what does that actually mean? Paul is not ambiguous: it means that "law" must be allowed to be applied to its greatest extent so that its reach is totally exhausted. Once "law" has reached its greatest application against someone, it is "exhausted" to the point of having no further "thing" it can do. If the person against whom "law" has reached its maximum impact survives that impact, the person is no longer subject to anything that "law" might demand. In this way, a person "dies" to "law". "Law" has nothing to say to the dead for one cause: the dead are totally out of reach because they have been removed from the domain of "law". Thus we have the essential doctrine of "resurrection from the dead" as the foundation for godly living.
a) That this is Paul's argument is clear from his declaration: "I have been crucified...". There is no point to "crucifixion" if death is not that point. The argument of freedom from Law is established if it can be established that death terminates the individual's participation in the realm of Law. That "Life" is the realm of Law is established in this manner: the absolute worst "judgment" of Law is "Death" (eternal and irreversible). The biblical view of judicial penalty has two major tenets: the "judged" are capable of being "judged" (i.e., they have an enduring existence within which "judgment" is actually experienced); and, the "judgment" exactly fits the crime (an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth).
i. This has to mean that "annihilation" is out of the question at both levels. Annihilation does not fit the necessity of "enduring existence", nor does it permit "exact" retribution. Annihilation is a non-entity in terms of any form of judicial judgment. Taking existence away is neither "judgment", nor "sorrowful". I did not mind "not-being" before I was and I certainly will not mind "not-being" after I have been.
ii. This also means that "exact" retribution has to take into account the nature of the Person "damaged" by the transgression. If God is the one against Whom the transgression was aimed, His infinity must be satisfied in judgment.
b. That Paul continues his declaration of "I have been crucified" with the words "with Christ" does not mitigate the "crucifixion" but it does explain how it could be a satisfaction of "Law".
i. It is true that Paul's crucifixion "with Christ" was not a physical reality in terms of Paul's actual experience of that experience. In other words, Christ felt, and suffered the damage of, the penetration of the nails; Paul did not.
ii. But it is not true that Paul's crucifixion is, therefore, not "real". Its reality exists on a different plane, but it exists. But, this requires some careful thought. In what way, exactly, was Paul "crucified with Christ"? This issue is resolved by a proper understanding of "birth". When God created Adam, He placed within him the ability to procreate by means of a process in which "Adam" was passed on to his offspring. Thus, "Adam" is "in" all of his children and it is Paul's argument in Romans 5 that Adam's presence "in" all his children makes them participants with him in all that he did. In the same way, Jesus taught a "new birth" in which the "seed of God" creates a "new creation" within the body of the one born of Him (1 John 3:9). Thus, Jesus is "in" everyone who is born of God as a second "Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:45) and, thus, all His children are participants with Him in all that He did. Thus, the issue of co-participation is not a matter of unreality; it is a matter of distance. Just as a toe is not as immediately damaged by a blow to the nose, but suffers as a part of the whole body, so also Paul can be crucified with Christ as a born-again part of His body even though he, personally, does not directly suffer the damage done to Christ, the Head.
3) Once "law" has exhausted itself, "living to/for God" is now possible because the issue of self-interest is no longer in place. The very core of "freedom" is the absolute absence of any level, or kind, of "fear". Perfect Love casts out all fear so that, because one has died to all self-interest, that one cannot be intimidated into any kind of action against his/her "Love".