by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 May 17, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(126)Thesis:Man's bondage to Sin is profoundly self-serving.
Introduction:In our study last week we saw that man, outside of Christ, has a serious "lack". He "is not" righteous. This is a statement of essence. We also saw that there are two consequences to that "lack": he does not have any interest in understanding God; and he has no willingness to seek God. We saw that these are the opening statements of the "proof" given by Paul that his statement that man is "under sin" is true. They are biblically established truths found in both Psalm 14 and Psalm 53. And, not only that, their reality makes it absolutely impossible for man to do anything "righteous" as Job 14:4 clearly indicates. This truth is the reason for the biblical teaching on regeneration, death and resurrection, "new creationism", and that truth that Nicodemus had completely missed: the new birth. It ought to be obvious to all that if a tree is, essentially, a pear tree, it is foolish beyond description to go to it looking for a ripe cluster of grapes.
Now, this evening, we are going to look into the next "step" in Paul's presentation of his "proof" of man's condition "under sin".
I. The Statement.
A. Part One: Man has "rejected" God's values and truths.
1. The word Paul used is used only three times in the New Testament. Both other times [Romans 16:17 and 1 Peter 3:11] it refers to a deliberate rejection and avoidance.
a. The structure of 3:10-12 is chiastic.
1) 3:10 - not even one righteous.
2) 3:11a - none who understand.
3) 3:11b - none who seek the God.
3a) 3:12a - all have "rejected" (the God).
2a) 3:12b - all have become "useless" (because they do not understand).
1a) 3:12c - not even one who acts out of "kindness" (because righteousness must be before kindness can erupt).
b. Thus, the "rejection" is of God.
1) This fundamentally means "Him" as He is.
2) But it moves very rapidly to "His loves" -- the values He holds.
3) And from there it moves to "His truths" -- the means by which He pursues His loves.
2. The statement is not about a "deviation" that "just happened"; it is about a deliberate choice to reject and resist.
B. Part Two: Man has "become useless" as a cooperative agent in the pursuit of God's plan.
1. The word signals a lack of need, or necessity.
2. The meaning, however, is qualified...
a. Paul has already demonstrated that God has a "use" for rebellious man in his hateful rebellion: to provide a stark backdrop for the opposite character of God.
b. Paul's meaning involves the chiastically-presented issue of "understanding" so that man would be a willing participant with God in His loves/truths/Plan.
c. Thus, man is "useless" as an agent of cooperative achievement.
1) God's concept of "life" involves cooperation in the pursuit of a good objective.
2) In death, man has only an intransigent obstinacy toward God's Plan.
C. Part Three: Man does not act out of "kindness".
1. The word Paul chose is a "root", not a "fruit". The translators make it look like a "fruit" (calling it "doing good"), but the term signals the inner motivation, not the fruit of that motivation.
2. This, coupled to the chiasm, develops the issue of "none righteous": there is none who possesses the internal character necessary for the production of legitimate fruit.
a. The internal character is "kindness".
b. The word means "the internal, intense desire to produce eternal benefit for someone other than oneself".
II. The Pictorial Description.
A. Part One: Man's throat is a grave opened [from Psalm 5:9].
B. Part Two: Man's tongue is a deceitful lure [from Psalm 36:3].
C. Part Three: Man's lips hide deadly poison [from Psalm 140:3].
III. The Problems Men Have With This Doctrine.
A. It runs counter to "appearances".
B. It stands against every form of pride.
C. It tends to develop both paranoia and cynicism [But Hebrews 13:6 and 1 John 4:4 address both of these for serious believers].