by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 October 24, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(262)Thesis:Freedom from Law is not the same as freedom from creation-order reality.
Introduction:Tonight we will begin our study of the second half of Romans 6. Like the first half, it is concerned with the tendency people have to play with fire -- to attempt to make some way to be right with God while doing ungodly things. Humanity's greatest "problem" is its deep reluctance to permit God to be both Lord and King. Therefore, grace shines brightest in the lives of those who deliberately take their hands off of their own lives in grateful submission to an enigmatic and sovereign Father. With a Father Whose thoughts are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth and Whose judgments are "past finding out", the children of God are continually faced with the challenge of their own fears and the drive those fears create to "take control." Thus, the emphatic biblical position is that we must cometo, and abidein, faith. We must be done with our "playing with fire."
There are good reasons. We have spent many weeks looking at the first one: our Father has dismissed the claims of Law against us forever. We will never be subjected to those claims. We will also spend several weeks looking at the second one: being free from Law does not mean being free from creation-reality. This evening we will begin by looking into the "reasoning" that prompts Paul's focus upon this tendency to play with fire that seems to be so prevalent among us.
I. Why Would Anyone Think That Grace Encourages Sin?
A. This is the root of both 6:1 and 6:15.
1. In 6:1 the issue is "causing grace to abound."
2. In 6:15 the issue is "permitting grace to rule."
B. This has its roots in very flawed thinking in both texts.
1. In 6:1 the issue is thinking that sin is good because it results in a good thing.
2. In 6:15 the issue is thinking that grace is nothing so that being "under" grace means to be "under" nothing.
C. The driver for these thoughts is man's unwillingness to thankfully permit a sovereign and enigmatic Father to be what He is.
1. Men are continually looking for ways to be in the driver's seat.
2. This lust runs smack into the immutable reality of the Father's character.
II. What is Paul's Second Answer?
A. Being free from the dominion of the Law only means one thing: Justice has been relegated to the sidelines; it is no longer the driving necessity it was.
B. Since creation-order is not about Justice, being free from the Law does not mean being free from creation-order.
1. What is creation-order?
a. It is the sum of all of the principles that God has put in place so that a material universe can function.
1) From all we know, "function" requires "principles of operation".
2) From all we know, all of the "principles of operation", underwriting all function, are interrelated in harmony.
3) From all we know, the current "dominator" of all of the functions of operation is degeneration...everything is losing vitality and moving to a complete cessation of all function.
b. It is a flexible sum of principles that can accept an enormous number of "inputs" -- including 'miracles' --, but it has rigid outer boundaries.
1) Rigid outer boundaries mean that there are certain immutable realities that no one can violate or manipulate.
2) One of these rigid outer boundaries is the Principle of Dominion.
2. What is the Principle of Dominion?
a. Paul says that it is an inviolable "principle" that consists of the actual relationship that exists between volitional submission and consequent bondage.
b. Paul says that once volitional submission has been exercised, it ceases to have any ability afterward to reverse itself.
1) If there were such a thing as on-going, "free", volitional capacity, all of Paul's words would fall flat on their faces.
a) There can be no "bondage" where the will is still free.
b) There can only be "bondage" when the will is dominated by things other than itself.
2) This is the message of Romans 5:12-21: Adam exercised the "choice" to yield his body as an instrument to Sin and, from that moment, "freedom" was lost for all of humanity.
3. How does the Principle of Dominion work?
a. Paul explains that at the point of "presentation" bondage is established.
b. His argument assumes that the "point of presentation" was underwritten by a preceding, plausible, set of arguments.
c. His conclusion is that once the process is set in motion, the outcome is inevitable.
4. How "fixed in concrete" is the Principle of Dominion?
a. Apart from grace, it is immutable.
1) Only 'miracle' can intrude upon 'creation-order' to subvert it.
2) Without 'miracle' the process mercilessly runs to its end.
b. Under grace, it is mutable.
1) God can, and does, often unseat the immutability of this principle.
2) But He does not unseat it with a different principle; He simply "re-sets" the process so that the principle remains in place, but the point of submission is allowed to "initiate" once again.
3) How often will He "re-set"?
a) He is very willing -- for one "crowd."
b) He is absolutely unwilling -- for another "crowd."
c) But His "willingness" is tempered by how much that willingness is applied to godliness and how much is simply applied to "escapism."