by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5 March 6, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(294)Thesis:We must embrace the Law as revelation while maintaining complete independence from it as regulation.
Introduction:As we have considered Paul's words to the Romans in 7:7-12, we have noted that his intent in the paragraph is to answer this question: "Is the Law sin?" We have seen that the question is the logical step from his insistence that we maintain an absolute distance from the Law. His doctrine that we "died to the Law" is the foundation for this insistence. But, can anything that is so dangerous that we absolutely must maintain our distance from it be good? Does not the very fact that it is so dangerous mean that there is something "sinful" about it? Paul's answer is, "Absolutely not."
As we have progressed through our study of these verses, we have seen that there are multiple facets of the Law and that the real problem is not the Law, but the deceptive use of it by indwelling Sin. This evening we come to the conclusion of this paragraph: 7:12. Here Paul once again draws a conclusion from his previous explanation, and here, once again, he sets his readers up for another "logical conclusion" question. His conclusion is that the Law is "holy" and the commandment is "holy and righteous and good" and the "logical conclusion question" is 7:13 -- "Was that which is good made death unto me?"
It is not our goal this evening to answer this next question -- it leads into a rather long explanation in the verses to follow -- but to settle our conviction that the commandment is good. So, let's see if we can do that.
I. The Grammatical Pattern.
A. 7:6 uses a "so that we" phrase that is the conclusion to his insistence that we absolutely maintain our distance from "Law" as a reciprocal covenant.
1. A reciprocal covenant is a covenant that establishes a two-party agreement in which each party has a responsibility.
2. A reciprocal covenant is a covenant into which a person enters with the assumption of, and confidence in, the abilities of both parties to do their respective parts.
3. The Law, as a reciprocal covenant, requires of men what they cannot perform.
a. The issue of "cannot" is not in the realm of overt behavior: there is nothing in the Law that a person does not have the "strength" to do.
b. The issue of "cannot" is in the realm of legitimate motivation: Law is not satisfied with overt obedience, but examines the motives for that "obedience".
c. What the Law requires is that men not only do what the covenant requires, but that they do it with delighted intention ("His commandments are not burdensome.").
4. Because we, as the offspring of a fallen Adam, do not have the assumed ability of the reciprocal covenant of the Law, we simply mustnot enter into such an agreement.
B. 7:12 uses the same term (which the translators chose to render "So then the Law") to wind up this second paragraph as a prelude to Paul's third question (7:1, 7, and 13).
1. The burden of this paragraph has been that the "problem" with the "Law" is not to be found in the "revelation" that it gives of the contrast between God and men, but in the deceptive use of that Law by Sin.
a. The deception rests squarely upon the delusion of man's capacity to reciprocate that fundamentally appeals to his pride and, thus, squelches any "love" motivation.
b. Sin urges us to "believe in ourselves" as capable reciprocators who can put God under obligation to do His part.
1) This urging is deceptive at two points.
a) We are not trustworthy of our own confidence -- let alone anyone else's.
b) God is not "grudging" -- He needs no "obligation" to compel Him to do His part.
2) Sin has, and pushes, these twin delusions and they are wicked.
2. The consequent burden of this paragraph has been to lay the "problem" squarely upon Sin rather than playing the "blame game" and making God the "problem" for giving the Law.
II. The Textual Meaning.
A. The "holiness" of the Law.
1. "Holiness" has to do with the absolutely perfect balance of every attribute of God so that His every intent and action is perfectly considered under the umbrella of omniscience and omni-wisdom.
2. The "holiness" of the Law, therefore, has to do with the revelation of that perfection of comprehensive knowledge and specific application in "context".
B. The extension of the character of the Law to the "commandment".
1. Every commandment is an expression of the specific applicability of holiness to the present circumstance...the commandment is "holy".
2. Every commandment is an expression of the most fundamental issue of healthy relationships: righteousness.
a. One can never expect that a relationship between two or more persons is going to flourish in the presence of injustice.
b. The commandments are designed to reveal the proper application of Justice to the particular circumstances that have come to pass.
3. Every commandment is an expression of the most fundamental issue of the "goals" of wisdom.
a. "Goodness" has to do with the question of whether an action taken can produce Life as a result.
1) We run into the issue of "goodness" first in Genesis One where the actions taken by the "holy" God are pronounced "good" as being capable of yielding the Life that was the original intention.
2) We run into the issue of "goodness" second in Genesis Three where the suggestion of divine manipulation and evil intent is introduced by the Serpent.
b. When a "commandment" will result in "Life" for those whose involvement includes a present love/faith relationship with God, the "commandment" is seen as "good".
1) The "problem" sinners have with the commandments of God is two-fold.
a) First, they do not have a love/faith relationship with God, so they cannot obtain the "Life" designed into the commandment.
b) Being out of the love/faith loop, they are under the condemnation that the commandment brings along with it...so they are not only not going to "live", they are going to "die".
2) The only solution to the "problem" is the change on the part of sinners that is called "repentance"...they stop seeing God as One Who seeks their destruction and they believe in His provision to keep destruction at bay.