by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6 July 3, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(320)Thesis:Life and Death are "indeterminate" realities a great deal of the time.
Introduction:In our last study we looked into Paul's statement that one's "state" is determinative of one's behavior. We saw that one's "state" is determined by "the air we breathe". If the air is relatively uncontaminated, our "state" of health -- as far as breath determines it -- is good. But if the air is contaminated with poisonous elements, our "state" of health deteriorates relatively rapidly.
It is this issue of the "state of our health" that I want to pursue this evening. It stands as a metaphor for the actual condition of our experience as a person. The "body" is either "healthy" or "unhealthy" in this metaphor according to the impact that breathing makes because of the quality of the surrounding atmosphere. As such, the "body" becomes a metaphor for the larger reality of the total person.
But, as a metaphor, the issue of our overall "health" is subject to a host of evaluative standards and those standards sit under a rather confusing umbrella. Paul describes this "umbrella" as a "Life/Death duality" and it does create some real problems for our understanding. So, we are going to do some thinking about the confusion that is inherent in our thinking about "Life/Death" issues.
I. Paul's Unambiguous Declaration.
A. The mechanism of being focused upon the "flesh" inevitably leads to Death.
B. The mechanism of being focused upon the "Spirit" inevitably leads to Life.
II. The Causes of the Confusion.
A. The first cause: the inner competition for dominion.
1. Everyone has four inner gods which clamor for the top spot in the dominion realm.
a. Three of these four inner gods have certain "weapons" that are brought into play when the competition gets serious.
1) The "body" god uses pain and pleasure as its weapons.
2) The "soul" god uses sadness and gladness as its weapons.
3) The "spirit" god uses humiliation and exaltation as its weapons.
b. The remaining "god" is an intruder who only has the power of persuasion as a weapon.
1) Ephesians 2 tells us that there is a "spirit" who works "in" the children of disobedience, but he is everywhere identified as a "deceiver".
2) This intruder has the potent weapon of "deceit" at his disposal.
2. Believers have five inner gods because they actually have God dwelling in them along with the other "demanders".
a. God is, for the believer, a second "intruder" -- an alternate Person who has been invited to take up residence within.
b. Like the other "intruder", God pretty much restricts Himself to "persuasion" by means of revealed Truth.
3. The issue, in every case, is "who" will get to actually determine what will be done.
a. Four of the five inner gods seek dominion as a way to accomplish their own "coronation" within.
b. The Indwelling God is distinctly different at this level: He seeks absolute dominion, but only as a means to accomplishing Life for every servant person involved.
4. This reality is a cause of confusion because every inner god "voices" its demands in a setting of clamor [like the demon irrupting in the synagogue during Jesus' teaching session].
a. There is a solution to the clamor: the silence imposed by the chief "god".
b. The solution is never absolute or final: the voices of the others often return.
B. The second cause: the final realities called "Life" and "Death" are beyond our experience as long as we are in this fallen world.
1. Paul tells us pointedly that "Life" in the age to come is so far beyond our experience in this world that there is hardly a comparison.
2. The biblical description of the Second Death as the final stage of "Death" in the age to come is that of a Lake of Fire which does not annihilate [fire, typically, destroys nerves so that "feeling" ceases to be a problem -- illustration of a badly burned victim].
3. This reality is a cause of confusion because the standards of evaluation are seriously unclear.
C. The third cause: the final realities are only incrementally developed so that the actual present state of health is hard to assess.
1. For both "Life" and "Death", there is an incrementally developed progression that is very often under the radar, much like a buried seed that does not show itself until it has the wherewithal to sustain its growth in the "visible" world.
2. Because of the incremental development, both "Life" and "Death" often catch us by surprise with the discovery of the reality and the sense of "it's too late to do anything about this".
3. This is a cause of confusion because we can think, based upon what is on the radar, that our experience is "going to be" one thing but within a short time it proves to be the opposite.
D. The fourth cause: Sin is essentially effective because of its ability to mimic results in a short term setting.
1. If the temporal productions of "Life" and "Death" were stark in contrast, we would have no problem identifying the causes and effects.
2. The reality is that "starkness" is only a late-development after a lot of water has gone under the bridge and, often, the developments are irreversible.