by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7 July 10, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(322)Thesis:The enmity between God and men exists at multiple levels, one of which is man's attitude toward the Law of God.
Introduction:There is a large tension in the minds of most men in respect to the method of Life. According to the apostle Paul, the "Law of God" cannot serve as that method (Galatians 2:21). Yet, when all is said and done, the same apostle continually returns to the need for submission to "the Law of God" (8:4; Galatians 5:23). There is an even larger tension in the minds of some men who think about the implications of Paul's doctrine that men "cannot" be in submission to the Law of God when they realize that "self-interest" is the problem but the solution that is offered is an appeal to "self-interest". Therefore, this evening we are going to look into some of the aspects of these tensions. Our chief focus is going to be on the inevitability of enmity between God and men.
Last week we looked into Paul's two categories of "results". He says in 8:6 that the inevitable result of a "mind set upon the flesh" is Death and the inevitable result of a "mind set upon the Spirit" is Life and peace. Whether one takes these as "threat/promise" or simply as a declaration that "this is the way it is", there is no escape from the fact that the apostle is setting forth a duality of reality in which both Death and Life exist as experiential realities. Given that, this evening we are going to look into the reason for the "Death" issue.
I. The Declaration of InevitableEnmity.
A. The connection of 8:6 is rooted in the "cause and effect" principle of existence.
1. The "cause and effect" principle is one of the most pervasive and basic principles of the creation as we know it.
2. Under that principle, there are opposite realities.
a. The declared "effects" are Death and Life.
b. The declared "causes" are opposite foci: one is identified as "flesh" and the other is identified as "Spirit".
1) Matthew 16:23 is a "classic" example of the import of a focus upon the flesh.
2) Colossians 3:2 is a "classic" example of the import of a focus upon the Spirit.
B. Within this "cause and effect" principle is Paul's argument for the inevitability of "results" once the "causes" are in place.
1. Paul's focus beyond verse six is upon the "negative" reality: Death.
2. This focus establishes one point: Death is created by enmity.
a. In 8:6 Paul had placed a "mechanism" issue into the "Life" side of the issues: Peace.
b. The automatic implication is that the "Death" side of the issues also has a "mechanism" issue: Conflict.
1) This mechanism is most easily seen in the physical realm under the theses of illness and health.
a) These theses are so important that Paul actually identifies "Truth" as "Healthy Doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:3).
b) The reason for the theses is the absolute necessity for a "physical level" illustration of an "invisible level" of Truth that dominates all levels.
2) Conflict has two opposite results, creating tension and misunderstanding.
a) The opposite results.
i. On the one hand, conflict kills.
ii. On the other hand, conflict generates greater life.
b) The tension and misunderstanding.
i. If conflict "kills", how can it be a tool of life?
ii. The resolution is in the fact that conflictforceschoices: one either "gives in", or one "perseveres" until the conflict is resolved by the other "giving in".
iii. In a fallen world, the issue of conflict is the issue of whether the will of God will be pursued or abandoned.
iv. Those who "give in" to the opposition to the will of God "die", but those who "persevere" in the will of God "live" to a greater extent (James 1:12).
C. The focus upon the flesh creates this inevitable enmity.
1. The focus of the "flesh" is completely opposite to the focus of God.
2. The focus of God is completely opposite to the focus of the "flesh".
II. The Explanation of the Inevitable Enmity.
A. The "flesh" is in direct opposition to the Law of God.
1. This "opposition" is explained as a lack of submission to the Law of God.
2. This "opposition" is declared to be irreversibly inevitable.
B. This opposition is to God Himself.
1. The Law of God is nothing more or less than the expression of His Love/Faith system.
a. The Law of God defines what is important.
b. The Law of God declares what is true.
2. As the expression of His own Love/Faith system, the Law is God.
a. Resistance, or disobedience, to the Law is resistance and disobedience to God.
b. This reality indicates the presence of enmity.
C. This opposition has a "center".
1. When Jesus was pressed to address the core of His beliefs, He declared that the Law of God was essentially an expression of the Love of God.
a. Matthew 22:39 says that all of the Law and the Prophets "hang" upon the love issues.
b. As the expression of God's "love", the Law sets forth a resolute and immutable finality.
2. The "flesh", on the other hand, is "centrally focused" upon its "hatred" for every, and all, opposition.
D. This opposition creates an "inability".
1. Those who hate God and others do not submit to the Law.
2. Those who hate cannot submit to the Law.
III. These Issues of Enmity Clarify the Gospel's Most Fundamental Issue.
A. The most fundamental issue is regeneration...a change of essential nature.
B. This has the strongest possible implication that the Gospel has never been a tool for the attitude of "easy forgiveness".
1. A huge number of people think that forgiveness was created by God to allow them to do as they please and not be involved in enmity with God.
2. The error of this thought is clear in the Gospel's focus upon regeneration.
IV. These Issues of Enmity Also Clarify the Reason for the Sharpness of Paul's Rejection of Law as the Method of Regeneration.
A. The Law is an explanation of God's Love, not the expression of it.
B. The expression of the Love of God is in providing an effective means to Life within the boundaries.