by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4 September 20, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(160)Thesis:If God does not impute sin to those who believe Him, why does He respond as He does to sin in the lives of those whom He has justified?
Introduction:We have been looking into the doctrine of how one might expect to survive a critical evaluation of his deeds and motives by God. We have seen that there can be no such expectation if that critical evaluation has "justification" in mind. We have seen Paul's arguments that there is an absolute hopelessness of "justification" on the basis of God's critical evaluation of one's deeds and motives. For this reason, Paul argued that "justification" has always had the characteristic of being a divine gift that is given at the point of "faith" and that God has revealed this characteristic of "justification" from the beginning. Being justified as a gift by grace through faith is not a new doctrine, but one that has been around from the beginning. Abraham knew and experienced its reality. David, also, knew and experienced its reality.
However, the Bible does not teach that "justification" exempts the people of God from a critical evaluation of deeds and motives by God for every man. Not only does Paul pointedly say that we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10), he also insists that all during the period leading up to that critical evaluation, God responds to man's deeds and motives with "consequences" (Galatians 6:7-8).
The question we are going to address this evening is this: what is the nature of God's reactions to sinful behavior on the part of the "justified"?
I. The Doctrine of Justification as Paul Has Laid it Out.
A. It has fundamentally to do with how God determines to treat people in respect to the impact sin makes upon relationships...particularly His relationship with them.
1. God determines to treat the "justified" as if they have not sinned as far as the issue of the impact sin makes upon His willingness to maintain union with them is concerned.
a. He refuses to remove Himself from union with them.
b. He continues to deal with them in harmony with His intent to bless them.
2. God determines to refuse to acknowledge sin as a production of the "justified".
a. He "reckons" them to be "righteous".
b. He refuses to "reckon" sin to them, or of them.
B. It has fundamentally to do with His relationship to them, not their relationship to Him, others, or the creation as it functions.
1. Justification is about God's attitude toward His children, not their attitude toward their Father.
2. Justification is about God's attitude toward His children, not their attitude toward His children.
3. Justification is about God's attitude toward His children, not their attitude toward His creation in light of the way it works.
II. But God Does Not Ignore the Behavior of His "Justified".
A. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 Paul was not the least bit unclear about this fact: everyone of us has a date with the destiny of being "critically evaluated" with "real consequences" to come. This has to do with how He is going to treat us forever based upon how we treated Him in Time.
B. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Paul was not the least bit unclear about this fact: not one thing will be profitable to an individual whose motivation was less than "love". This has to do with how He is going to treat us forever based upon how we treated others in Time.
C. In Galatians 6:7-8 Paul was not the least bit unclear about the fact that God has an unyielding commitment to enforcing consequences suitable to the roots (flesh or Spirit) of actions taken. This has to do with how He is going to treat us in Time in respect to how we treat Him and others in light of the provision He has made for us for our "sowing".
III. This Raises Some Questions.
A. The first question: How can God react to what He refuses to acknowledge?
1. The doctrine, as Paul has laid it out, is that God refuses to acknowledge sin as coming from the justified.
a. The "justified" are those who have been "reckoned" to be righteous.
b. The "righteous" are, thus, incapable of being "unrighteous".
c. Then, if a person is "righteous" it is impossible for him to do unrighteousness because actions spring from essence.
1) To understand this, we must understand the three "persons" that a human person can be.
a) There is the body-soul-spirit "person" who is "bereft" of the Spirit of Jesus and whose soul is "married" to a fallen spirit of Adam.
b) There is the body-soul-Spirit-spirit "person" who is "faithful" (i.e., "believing") in regard to the reality of a new marriage to the Spirit of Jesus.
c) There is the body-soul-spirit-Spirit "person" who is involved in spiritual adultery by cavorting with the fallen spirit while married to the Spirit of Jesus.
2) As far as God is concerned, the only "person" he recognizes is the "body-soul-Spirit-spirit" person.
2. The doctrine, as Paul develops it, is that God deals with the realities of human person-hood according to the need for edification in the "finally real" person.
a. He sponsors the proclamation of the Gospel, and attends it with the working of the Spirit of Jesus, for those who are "body-soul-spirit" people so that they may receive the new Spirit.
b. He orchestrates the experiences of those who receive the new Spirit so that they may be "edified" as to how to relate to this new Spirit.
1) When they relate properly, He extends the fruit of that Spirit to them and produces it through them.
2) When they relate improperly, He allows the productions of the old spirit to come out of their bodies and visits both disciplinary actions as well as cause/effect consequences to that corrupt "fruit".
a) His attitude toward them when they are in this "improper" mode of operation is that of a disciplinarian and trainer.
b) There is no thought, whatsoever, of adopting the attitude of a condemning judge.
B. The final question: Does God ever deal with a "justified person" as if he is a "sinner"?
1. The answer is "no".
2. "Sinners" are treated with rejection and condemnation; "saints" are treated with discipline and correction.