by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 4 Study # 3 November 7, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(266)Thesis:God is only given thanks when He is seen as a real participant.
Introduction:We have been looking into Paul's second reason for urging us to caution regarding the choices we make and the actions we take. His first reason is that sinful choices and evil actions are a most basic contradiction of our true identity and nature. We really have been identified with Jesus to the degree that we are given credit for everything He did. When He died to sin, we died to sin. When He was raised from the dead, we were raised from the dead. And, not only that, but we really have become partakers of His nature so that we are just as free from sin in Him as we are enslaved to sin in Adam. We do not function out of only a new identity; we function out of a new nature. But, there is another reason for caution in regard to our choices and actions: their built-in consequences as the impact of what we have been calling Creation-Order.
This evening we are going to look into what God has done to keep the negative side of the Creation-Order from destroying our experience of "Life".
I. The Bottom Line.
A. Both "Life" and "Death" are "experiences" within our "existence."
B. Both "Life" and "Death" are "consequent experiences"; i.e., they are the "reactions" we have physically, emotionally, and spiritually to the experiences we experience [our bodies, our souls, and our spirits "react" to what happens to us].
1. These reactions are pretty much "static".
a. We always "hurt" because of "pain", we always "grieve" over "grief", and we are always "ashamed" when we are "shamed".
b. We are always "pleased" when we are "pleasured", we are always "joyful" when we are subjected to joy, and we are always "exultant" when we are "exalted".
2. This "static" reality is not different for a "believer" than for an "unbeliever".
C. Nothing will alter our experience of these "static consequences" once an action has been taken.
1. Life is a "hostage" to the actions taken.
2. Death is also.
D. The only way to preserve our experience of "Life" as a "consequence" of our actions is to block the sowing of evil seed and promote the sowing of good seed.
II. The Intermediate Line.
A. Paul claims that both bondage to Sin and freedom to Live are directly related to what he called "Under-Hearing" (translated "obedience").
1. This was our focus in our last study.
2. Paul says this is the way it works and that we need to know this.
B. Paul then rejoices that the Romans "Under-Heard" a "form of doctrine" that released them from bondage to Sin and enslaved them to Righteousness.
1. This, according to his doctrine, had to happen if they were going to "live".
a. There is no escape from the bottom line.
b. Life will happen for those who "under-hear" Truth and Death will happen to those who "under-hear" Deception.
2. The key to the successful transfer of ownership is what Paul described as a two-part process.
a. The first part is what he called a "form of doctrine".
1. This goes back to Ronald Nash's "Logos Doctrine" in The Word of God and the Mind of Man.
a) He argues that God created an empty "form" in the minds of men that they spend their lives "filling in" as they "think" and "experience".
b) He argues that this is how the Word enlightens every man and why men are without excuse before God.
2. The problem is that the deceptions that are in the world "almost" fit the "form" so that, if a person is so inclined, he can "force" a fit, be content with the "almost" fit, and go on to the next "piece of experience" in the search for the next "fit".
3. Paul's answer to this problem begins with a clear description of the "pieces": this is his concept of an inspired word from God through prophets and apostles.
4. And, "Romans" seems to be Paul's "clear description" and he calls it "the form of doctrine."
b. The second part is what he called "under-hearing from the heart."
1. There is such a thing as superficial "under-hearing": people submitting to a course of action that does not have a sufficient foundation.
a) This almost always begins with an appearance of success.
b) But it inevitably ends with a significant disaster because it was not properly founded.
2. The needful "under-hearing" is accomplished when it arises out of the "heart".
a) The focus upon the "heart" signals two realities...
1) The "heart" signals a base-line commitment.
2) The "heart" also signals a purity of motivation.
b) There is a deep-seated success when both of these elements are in place.
1) When the "heart" is in it, deliverance from Sin occurs.
2) When the "heart" is in it, bondage to Righteousness also occurs.
III. The "Top" Line.
A. The problem of the text...
1. God is thanked, but...
2. The people are credited with the effective action.
3. This sets up a "problem": why "thank" God if it was the Romans who pulled it off?
B. The problem in reality...
1. Paul went to great lengths in Romans 1:18-3:8 to establish the fact that men are enslaved to Sin and to force the conclusion that there is no escape for man in man.
2. Logically, there is no such thing as "bondage" if, in fact, people can flit from one master to another at their whim.
C. The solution to these "problems"...
1. Without denying the Romans' part, Paul clearly makes it secondary.
2. God is thanked because God is the root cause of the successful transition.
a. First, since the "heart" is the key, how does man get past the reality of the hardness of his own heart?
1) Paul's answer to this is his doctrine of God's circumcision of the human heart by which He makes it possible for "outside" issues to penetrate the sensitive tissues of the inner heart and He makes it possible for the "inner" issues of the heart to come out [Colossians 2:11].
2) Because God is the one Who does this circumcising, He gets the "thanks" for the results even though there are intermediate players because what He has done is profoundly fundamental and effective.
b. Second, since "thanks" is a recognition of "grace", we are immediately cast upon the reality of God's activity on our behalf without a "cause" on our part.
1) To be "gracious", an act cannot have its root cause in man.
2) To be "effective", "grace" must be the root; otherwise man takes credit and the evil boasting that comes is inevitable.