by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2 June 7, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(132)Thesis:Man's penchant for seeking the reason for God's favor in himself must be absolutely rejected before any real progress can be made in the life of Grace.
Introduction:Mankind has a problem. God has a solution. How to get man's problem and God's solution together is the question. Man cannot get it together. God does get it together. But, even God does not "get it together" easily, nor does God easily get man to "see" His solution. There are two points here that I want to make: 1) if we ever begin to think that Calvary was "easy" on God, we will distort the "solution" (the Gospel) significantly; and 2) if we overlook the fact that "clarity" was not achieved by God in man's mind for 4,000 years, we will distort the "problem" significantly. Because of pride, man has an enormous vested interest in demeaning both Calvary and man's sinfulness. We do not wish to be immersed in the reality of our "problem" (because we fear drowning) and that reluctance keeps us from seeing the grace of God with clarity.
Now, given the fact that man so mightily resists the truth about himself that even 1500 years of legal history did not "solve" the problem for the majority -- it did not get man to clarity on his "problem" -- we want, this evening, to spend 45 minutes trying to solve what was not solved in 1500 years (I type with my tongue in my cheek). The issue we are going to look at this evening is this: what is it in man that keeps him from God's life?
I. Paul's Recurring Thesis: All Have Sinned.
A. This is not a "small thing" that is reducible to "no one is perfect".
B. This is a huge thing that is so terrible that man fights tooth and nail against facing it in the light of reality.
II. Paul's Radical Thesis: the Law Was Given to Force This Truth Into the Light of Reality.
A. The thesis is "radical".
1. It conflicts with almost everyone's perception of God's reasons for giving men the Law.
a. The "universal" perception of God's reason for the Law.
1) The "Jewish" perception.
a) Yahweh gave the Law to enable Life by conformity to it.
b) Yahweh gave "us" the Law because He was confident that we would observe it.
c) Yahweh gave us the Law because He loves us more than anyone else because we are more inclined to be godly than anyone else.
2) The "Gentile" perception.
a) Yahweh gave the Law to the Jews to enable Life by conformity to it.
b) Yahweh gave the "Jews" the Law because He loves them more than He loves us.
c) Yahweh is stupid to love the Jews more than us because they are "worse" than we are.
3) The "similarities" in the perceptions.
a) The Law's "purpose" is to enable men to live by enlightening them to the requirements of life.
b) The Law's "presence" is a display of special favoritism by God.
c) The Law's "assumption" is that men can and will follow its dictates because they are reasonable and just.
b. Paul's radical perception of God's reason for the Law.
1) The Law was not given to enable life in any direct way: Galatians 3:21.
2) The Law was not given to the Jews because God "loved" them more than the rest of humanity: John 3:16.
3) The Law was given to the Jews as a "world-stage" demonstration of the nature of man's problem: Romans 1-3.
a) In Romans 1:18-32 Paul addressed the nature of man's problem in "general humanity" terms. Rebellion is true of all men.
b) In Romans 2:1-16 Paul addressed the nature of man's problem as a specific desire to "self-elevate" unto "superiority over others". Self-righteous "objectors" to 1:32 would point to their "condemnation" of those who act like that as proof that they "are not like that". But Paul's accusation of blind hypocrisy shows they really are "like that".
c) In Romans 2:17-3:19 Paul addressed the nature of man's problem as a massive blindness in respect to the evil of seeking to exalt oneself over others.
4) The Law was given to expose man's condition in sin: Romans 3:20.
2. It is rejected by most people even after 1500 years of Legal history and 2000 years of Gospel history.
III. Paul's Revelation in the Gospel.
A. Only by the Gospel is man's condition really solved.
1. The Law shut all the world up to condemnation.
2. There was no hope whatsoever for man in man.
3. The Gospel offers hope on a different foundation: grace.
4. The actual practice of righteousness is enabled by grace.
B. Only by the Gospel is "clarity" achieved.
1. The "now" of 3:21 signals a clarity that only came in a post-Calvary setting.
a. The "problem" of clarity while "Law" was in place was that it both taught and confused the issues.
1) It taught justification on the basis of a substitute sacrifice of the innocent for the guilty.
2) But it required the guilty to bring the sacrifice and offer it.
a) This introduced the entire issue of man's "obedience to God".
b) This implied "acceptance by God on the basis of obedience".
c) This confused the entire issue.
b. Calvary brought clarification in that it both reinforced the truth established by the Law and revealed the error of man's assumption of his part in it.
1) Jesus was not offered by repentant sinners who wished to be reconciled to God.
2) Jesus was crucified by hateful sinners who wished to shut Him up.
3) Jesus was the innocent being put to death in the stead of the sinners, but He was doing this apart from their "godliness".
2. The revelation in the Gospel is that there is a way to approach the problem of not being acceptable to God that can work.
a. The Law can never make a person acceptable to God; its point is that man cannot be acceptable to God on the basis of his activities.
b. The Gospel offers a "righteousness from God" on a completely different basis.
3. The revelation in the Gospel is not contrary to the Law as revelation.
a. The "Gospel" is not "new" news: it had its roots in the revelation of the Law and the Prophets: Genesis 15:6 and Habakkuk 2:4.
b. The "Gospel" is simply "clarification" of the true "old" news as it strips away the confusion of man's "self-elevation".