by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 September 8, 2013 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(291)Thesis:The "nothingness" of men is completely wrapped up in humanity's "creatureliness".
Introduction:Beginning in Galatians 6:1 Paul addresses our relationship responsibilities toward each other in the specific direction of "bearing one another's burdens". These "burdens" are seen as loads that successful temptation have imposed upon some of the "brethren". In 6:2 Paul inserts what he calls "the law of the Christ" into the mix as the ultimate guide for action. This "law" is not significantly different from all "law" as a call to "love", but it has a specific illustrative content: Christ's activities in bearing our burdens. His gracious sacrifice of Himself without regard for the "merit" of those carrying the burdens becomes, therefore, the "definition" of "the Law of the Christ".
This evening we are going to look into a corollary "law" of reality: Paul's declaration that anyone who thinks he/she is "something, being nothing" is leading his/her mind down an illegitimate path.
I. The "Problems".
A. Contradicting Reality.
1. Paul's word translated "deceives" gets only two lines with only three known uses in LiddellScott, which is supposed to be "exhaustive", raising the question of Paul's choice of verbs.
a. The word is a combination of a more common word for "significant deceit" (the kind requiring a high level of discernment) and a more common word for "the brain as the tool of the mind in respect to its most basic function: rational thought (as the process of sifting a mass of data and putting the pieces in their 'logical' places as with pieces of a puzzle)". [Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon has indications that people whose "brains are deceived" are "stark raving mad"].
1) Since the issue is a high level of deceit buried in a mass of pieces of data, what Paul decided to do was to highlight just how significant is this corollary "law" that man is "nothing".
2) Since "thinking" of oneself as "something" is, thus, reduced to being "stark raving mad", the issues involved are significant.
b. When the vast majority have become "mad", it is the "sane" who are regarded as "mad"; a concept Paul may well have had in mind by using such a rare verb.
1) Almost no one lives well in this present world who thinks himself/herself to be "nothing".
2) The major "problem" seems to be the idea that God would not have sent the Christ to be crucified if human beings are "nothings".
2. Paul is blunt in his declaration of reality: man is "nothing".
B. Understanding Paul's description of reality.
1. The limiting context.
a. Paul has a very deep context for his statement.
1) His words are surrounded by the issues of "Law" and "Promise" as methodologies for acceptance by God.
2) These large issues are rooted in very basic truths.
a) The Law is deadly for human beings within the Adamic realm.
b) Promise is man's only hope because it begins with the premise that God is the One Who has to solve the problem(s) of relational harmony, the beginning issue of which is "faith" as a description of a willingness to be dependent upon another.
3) The "nothingness" of man is, thus, tied directly to the underlying principle of man's lack of ability to relate properly to others.
b. Paul sees absolutely no contradiction between man's "nothingness" and God's "love" for him as revealed by the crucified Christ.
1) The only people who cling to "somethingness" in respect to the ability to "perform" are legalists who tie "love" to what someone can do for the one doing the "loving".
2) God's declaration of "love" for those who are "nothing" only means that His value of others is not related to what they can do for Him.
c. At issue in this context is the attitude taken by those who would be involved with someone who has transgressed God's words.
1) There are those who are "spiritual" and, therefore, "know" that it must be the Spirit Who must act for the restoration of the transgressor.
2) There are those who are not "spiritual" who think themselves superior to the transgressor and able to restore him/her to a right relationship with God through the doctrine of "relationships rooted in performance".
3) There are those who are not "spiritual" who know themselves to be out of their depth in attempting to help someone covered in transgression and guilt.
4) There is the transgressor who simply will not respond properly to those who are stark raving mad in their commitment to their own superiority and the need for "right behavior" as the foundation of relational reality.
2. Paul's "being nothing" comment is, thus, limited to man as an dependent actor whose success in accomplishment in the relational universe depends entirely upon the activities of the Spirit of God.
a. Man's delusional thinking aside, the New Testament is absolutely filled with the teaching that for man to successfully serve God, he must be connected with and subservient to the Spirit of God.
b. Paul's "Christ lives in me" concept (2:20) is decisive [Note also 1 Corinthians 15:10].
II. The Actual Application.
A. Paul is attempting to get some (the "spiritual" among them) of the Galatians to become the servants of God for the restoration of those who have loaded themselves up with bondage and guilt.
B. In this process, one must be, and remain, consciously dependent upon the Spirit of God for both the motivation and approach necessary for success.