by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9 July 24, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
1901 ASV Translation:
8 and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
I. Paul's "In the Flesh" Terminology.
A. Clearly, being "in the flesh" has to do with not having the Holy Spirit dwelling within.
B. Just as clearly, being "in the Spirit" has to do with having the Holy Spirit dwelling within.
C. And, just as clearly, being "in the Spirit" does not automatically lead to "pleasing God".
1. In 8:8 Paul declared that "they that are in the flesh cannot please God".
a. This has to mean that if one does not possess the Spirit of God, it is impossible for that one to please God.
b. However, this does not have to mean that if one does possess the Spirit of God one "automatically" pleases God. The absolute negative does not establish an absolute positive.
2. In 8:4 Paul established the fact that the fulfillment of the requirement of the Law was fulfilled by those who "walk ... after the Spirit".
a. Clearly, fulfilling the requirement of the Law "pleases" God and the violation of that requirement "displeases" Him.
b. This makes "walking after the Spirit" a requirement for "pleasing" God.
3. In all of Paul's teaching, he makes no claim for any kind of "automatic godliness" from the indwelling presence of the Spirit because he does not teach the eradication of the presence of the Law of Sin in our bodies.
a. In 7:11 Paul described the "deception" that Sin uses to restore its dominion over the individual who was once "alive apart from the Law".
b. This deception is a real liability all of the time; there are no "automatic" guarantees of "godliness" from the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. The only real production of godliness is tied not to His presence, but to His effective power. His effective use of power is, to a significant degree, tied to the host's exercise of true faith. This cannot be done in the face of deception (7:11).
1) The major issue of "deception" is, according to Paul's extensive doctrinal revelation in Romans 7, the attitude one takes to the issues of the source of the ability to fulfill the requirement of the Law. As long as one "believes" in the delusion of independent personal capacity in the face of the necessity of the requirement, there is no real fulfillment. As long as one "believes" in the truth of indwelling divine capacity in the face of the necessity, there is real fulfillment.
2) The deception arises from two simultaneous directions.
a) On one hand, there is the delusion of the absence of necessity.
i. Those who do not believe that there is such a thing as "right behavior" and do not acknowledge that God is only pleased by "right behavior" cannot please Him.
ii. Before "the Law" was given by Moses, Sin was in the world (5:13). This means that "right behavior" was already a requirement even though it had never been described.
b) On the other hand, there is the delusion of the Law, as an independent human methodology for divine approval.
i. The Law was imposed by God upon "sinners", not to "correct" their behavior, but to "reveal" its essential ungodliness so that the revelation could "bring us to Christ" (Galatians 3:24) for justification by faith.
ii. When those "sinners" took the revelation and turned it into a methodology for correction, they succumbed to delusion. The issue is the source of ability, not the presence of necessity. This is the heart of the delusion issue.
iii. The driving force behind this distortion was Sin's commitment to individuality, and independence from divine "interference", in conjunction with the lust to be acceptable by reason of personal accomplishments. John calls this "the arrogance of functional capacity" or, in the terms of the AV, "the pride of life" (1 John 2:16): Pride arising out of performance.