by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 April 25, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(216)Thesis:God's method of dealing with Sin in men has two parts: one, He does not hold them accountable where there is no clarity; and, two, He imposes the consequences of Sin upon them as participants in the unity of humanity.
Introduction:In our study last week we zeroed in on the "unity of humanity" as a mirror of the unity of the Trinity. It was my claim that "individuality" in the Trinity takes a back seat to the unity of "Godness". Men focus upon "individuality" as the primary characteristic of "being", but God focuses upon "unity" as the primary characteristic. Sin's essence is the exaltation of "individuality" over the requirements of unity. Every time an "individual" makes a determination to think and act in a way that is contrary to omniscient love, he attacks "unity" and, thus, "sins".
This evening we are going to consider the relative enigma of Paul's "explanation" of his claim that "all sinned" when Adam sinned. The claim is rooted in the unity of humanity, but it is so contrary to man's fixation upon his individuality that Paul felt constrained to "explain" himself. We are participants in the human fixation upon individuality, so we need Paul's explanation.
I. The Larger Issues of Paul's Argument.
A. He claimed that the actions of one's ancestors are credited to that one.
1. This is the heart of his claim that "in Adam" we all sinned.
2. This is the foundation for other biblical statements...
a. The already noted reference to Levi's payment of tithes to Melchizedek because he was in the loins of his great-grandfather when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:9-10).
b. The lesser understood reference to the children of a believer in 1 Corinthians 7:14.
3. The "logic" of this claim is the explanation of how the Great Tribulation can come upon only the "final" generation of fallen humanity when there are a host of individuals whose actions qualify them for that "Great" outpouring of God's wrath.
a. We all know that there are specific individuals whose behavior is so wicked that they deserve to be subject to a rather massive outpouring of wrath, but they live long and die gently and will not be on the scene when God's wrath is poured out.
b. We also know that there are specific individuals whose behavior is relatively mildly evil who will be subject to the Great Tribulation.
c. But, in Paul's doctrine of personal responsibility for one's ancestor's behavior, there is a justification for the outpouring of wrath against only the final generation.
B. He understood how "individualistic man" would recoil from such a "horrendous" doctrine.
1. Man is absolutely committed to being "free" from anything that impinges upon his experience of "health, wealth, and wisdom".
a. He is particularly incensed when the actions of others interrupt his experience of bliss (he screams loudly and continuously about how "unfair" it is).
b. But he is also incensed when others turn his screaming around upon himself by their screaming about how his actions have interrupted their experience of bliss.
2. For a man to "accept" the fact that the universe does not turn on his axis -- that he is a part of a larger whole that will never allow his "individuality" to be primary -- is so contrary to the reality of Sin's dominion that it requires both a "regeneration" and a "careful explanation" of God's Truth (thus, we have the Spirit and the Book of Romans).
II. The Specific Issues of Paul's Argument.
A. He argues "theologically".
1. Death is the consequence of Sin.
2. Sin is the consequence of Adam's action.
3. Thus, there would be no "Death" if Adam had not sinned.
B. He argues "historically".
1. Death is universally experienced by all men in every place and in every time.
2. This has to mean that all men in every place and in every time are subject to Sin.
3. This has to mean that all men "sinned".
C. He argues "judicially".
1. God does not "reckon" sin to any one when there is no "Law".
a. Where no "Law" exists, no "transgression" exists.
b. Where no "transgression" exists, there is no "reckoning" of sin to a person.
c. Where there is no "reckoning" of sin to a person, there are no "penalties" imposed for "sin".
2. God has imposed Death upon every man.
a. This has to mean that every man is legitimately guilty of a "Law-breaking" sin.
b. This, in turn, has to mean that every man was a legitimate participant in Adam's sin.
1) Paul acknowledges that no one from Adam to Moses could individually do what Adam did -- i.e., "sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression" (5:14).
2) Thus, it has to be that every man was a real participant in Adam's sin.
3) The only way this can be is if there is a unity in humanity that transcends individuality so that all are in one and everyone is a participating part of all.
III. The Conclusions We Draw.
A. First, we cannot escape the reality of our unity in Adam except by the creation of a new unity in a new Adam.
B. Second, we will not escape the consequences of our unity with Adam until all of the links we have to him are broken.
1. The first "link" that is broken is the linkage between our "spirits" and his "spirit". This is the "regeneration" issue in which the "love" is altered by the Spirit of God in our hearts.
2. The second "link" that is broken is the linkage between our "souls" and his "soul". This is the "faith" issue in which Truth replaces the lies of delusion in our minds.
3. The third "link" that is broken is the linkage between our "bodies" and his "body". This is the "resurrection" issue by which our mortality is replaced by immortality.