by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 8 July 17, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(324)Thesis:Pleasing God is at the root of all of the explanation of the Gospel.
Introduction:Last week we addressed the "reason" that death is the inevitable result of a mental focus upon what Paul calls "the flesh". That study focused our attention upon the fact that death arises from being at odds with God. This is a truth that most of us have not yet digested. On one hand, we tend to not believe that death is inescapably tied to a "carnal" mind. We tend very strongly to continue to hold on to the notion that we can live in spite of maintaining an extraordinarily ungodly focus of attention upon "ourselves in time". On the other hand, we tend to not believe that life is inescapably tied to a "spiritual" mind. We tend very strongly to continue to hold on to the enormously idolatrous notion that life arises from the fulfillment of the lusts of the flesh instead of a true spiritual harmony with God. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to give some serious, and enduring, consideration to why we either hold God at arm's length while we continue to press forward in our quest to satisfy the appetites of our bodies, souls, and spirits at any cost, or we twist God into the provider for the satisfaction of those appetites.
This evening we are going to consider the last two verses of our paragraph: 8:8-9. We are going to look into the question of why Paul has gone to such lengths to get us to consider a truth that does not apply to us.
I. The Reason For the Question.
A. In 8:8 Paul makes an absolute declaration: those that are in the flesh cannot please God.
B. Then, in 8:9, he turns right around and says that his readers are not in the flesh.
C. This automatically leads me to the question: if I am not in the flesh, why tell me that those who are cannot please God?
II. Paul's Reasons For His Declarations.
A. The problem then is the same problem that exists now: it is easier to give lip service to belief in a truth than it is to believe a truth.
1. Paul sticks an "if" into his elimination of his readers from those who cannot please God.
2. This does not mean that the Romans have not professed faith in Christ; it means that they have, but that there is a big difference between "profession" and "reality".
B. There was another problem that existed then that exists also today: the twisting of the Gospel into a means to a false end.
1. Paul clearly indicates that the Gospel is supposed to be a means to another means that is a servant of Life.
a. He says that "pleasing God" is a very critical element of the servants of Life.
1) He makes "pleasing God" very important by denying that those who are in the flesh have the ability to do it.
2) He makes "not pleasing God" very important by declaring that one is an enemy of God who is not subject to His values and truths.
b. But, "pleasing God" is not an end in itself.
1) Whether God is "pleased" or not is a predetermining issue in what God will do as a result: this makes "pleasing" Him a step in the process of the ultimate goal, not the goal itself.
2) Thus, whatever it is that leads to "pleasing God" is a third element, a pre-predetermining issue, and the Gospel is that "third element".
2. The Gospel has been established by Paul as the means to one's "possession" of the Spirit.
a. In 8:4 Paul made the Spirit the means to an end: the fulfillment of the righteousness of the Law.
b. By the same logic involved above, then, if the Spirit is a means to the fulfillment of the requirement of the Law, He has become a pre-pre-predetermining issue...a reality that pushes the Gospel back another step.
c. In 8:9 Paul makes possession of the Spirit of Christ a fundamental element of belonging to Christ.
1) Belonging to Christ is crucial to "Life".
2) Belonging to Christ involves possession of the Spirit of Christ.
3) Possession of the Spirit of Christ is critical to "pleasing God".
4) This pushes the "Gospel" further backwards in the scheme of ordered steps.
d. But, when all is said and done, the understanding of the purpose of the Gospel gains clarity.
1) It is not about anything less than all of the things to which it leads.
2) When we eliminate "steps", we twist the Gospel into a means to an end to which it will not lead.
C. And there is yet a third problem that existed then and exists today: the method of evidence that one "possesses" the Spirit of Christ.
1. If the ultimate result is a result of a result of the result of possession of the Spirit of Christ, then "possession" of the Spirit of Christ is absolutely critical.
2. If it is so critical, a singularly important question arises: How do I know if I possess the Spirit of Christ?
a. There are several legitimate answers and some that are not.
b. The illegitimate answers arise from the efforts of men to give an answer.
1) One such illegitimate answer involves the false doctrine that everyone who has the Spirit will produce evidence of that possession by means of speaking in tongues.
2) Another such illegitimate answer involves the false doctrine that everyone who has the Spirit will produce evidence of that possession by means of a manifestly godly life.
c. The legitimate answers arise from what God declares to be true.
1) One such answer involves the possession of a capacity that does not exist in any person who does not have God's Spirit: the ability to submit to the Law of God.
2) Another such answer involves a testimony that does not exist in any person who does not have God's Spirit: 8:15-16.
3) Another such answer involves an attitude that no person has without the Spirit of God: a desire to please God without any hidden agendas.