by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5 January 23, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(284)Thesis:Serving in newness of Spirit means being strongly convinced that God's significant interest in making the character of Jesus visible through us is worth our loyalty.
Introduction:Last week we attempted to make the point that Romans 7 is Paul's attempt to explain the relationship of the Law of God to the people of God inthispresenttime and how those people must come to grips with the fact that God demands nothing of us for which He does not make full provision for our successful fulfillment of the demand. It is Paul's basic argument that we cannot do anything about actually getting rid of Sin as long as we are in this present body. However, it is also his argument that we can do something about actually frustrating Sin's ability to express itself through our bodies. This that we can do has to do with one thing: a love/faith reality in which we clearly understand what God's "demand" is and how we are to participate in His provision for its successful realization, andwish it to be the case.
This evening we are going to "zero in on" these issues. What is God's "demand"? How are we to "participate in His provision"? Do we want to?
I. Serving in Newness of Spirit.
A. When Paul writes of "serving", he is addressing the "demand" issue.
1. The word for "serving" is the word which ties two people together in an absolute "lordship" and uncompromised "slave" relationship.
a. This relationship needs to be understood in respect to both of its "sides".
1) On the "lordship" side is the agenda/methodology issue.
a) The "lord" determines what is valuable.
b) The "lord" determines how it will be pursued.
2) On the "slave" side is the actual pursuit issue.
a) The "slave" implements the actions that will produce the desired result.
b) The "slave" follows both of the "lord's" issues.
b. This relationship also needs to be understood in respect to the "level" of the "management" that is involved.
1) The "lord" very often establishes only "general" boundaries and leaves the more specific details up to the "slave".
a) This is generally determined by the kind of relationship that exists between the Lord and the slave.
b) The slave's level of committed understanding is the critical issue of this relationship.
i. If the slave is new and undeveloped, the relationship will be generally distant and the Lord will have to be pretty specific (635 laws instead of 2).
ii. If the slave is a long-termer and significantly developed, the relationship will be close and the Lord will not have to be very specific at all (note Joseph's function as the steward).
2) Biblically, there is a fairly large realm of "unaddressed" issues to which people respond according to their level of maturity -- the less mature they are the more they seek specific guidance.
2. This "serving" issue has the greater undercurrent of the wife-to-husband reality of the illustration from the text.
B. When Paul writes of "newness of Spirit" he is addressing the "provision for the demand" issue.
1. The fundamental theological issue in the text is Jesus as the resurrected "new" husband.
2. The bottom line is that the Spirit of Jesus has, in fact, taken up residence in our mortal bodies to provide the capacity for "service" that does not exist where He does not reside.
3. "Oldness of Letter" merely refers to "external conformity out of internal depravity".
II. What is the Nature of the Service?
A. Most people think of "service" in terms of "activities".
B. Most people split "activities" into those that are "service" activities and those which are not.
C. Most people do not understand at all.
1. Biblically, the "fruit" is absorbed with "character/attitude" issues.
2. There is a definite "link" between this "fruit" and the "activities" issue, but it is generally upside down in the minds of people who are intrinsic legalists who serve in the oldness of letter if they serve at all.
3. God is not as interested in what we do as in how we do it.
a. God knows that the vast majority of our "activity life" is simply what is coming down the pike at us without our significant involvement: this is His domain as the Head of the Body.
b. God is very interested in providing for that majority (as well as the left-over minority) of our "activity life" so that it turns into a basis for our inheritance in His Kingdom.
1) The fact is that since the "majority" of what is done in "church" these days is done in contradiction to the Word of God, there is not much that God can use there for "inheritance" issues.
2) This means that, for most folks, what they think they are doing to "serve" God is wasted effort and what they dismiss from the idea of "service" is actually where His Spirit is "making hay while the sun shines" in terms of our inheritance.
D. This means that the "nature of the service" boils down to permitting the "New Spirit" the freedom to produce the "attitudes" that lurk beneath the surface of our actions.
III. The Most Significant Issue is One: What do I Really Wish to Occur?
A. This is almost invariably a wrestling match with God over whether I get to be the "lord" or not.
B. Very little can be accomplished until this issue is settled...though the Spirit is never really hamstrung in terms of producing for us a far greater weight of glory...He is simply hindered from maximizing it.