by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 5 Study # 3 May 20, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(404)Thesis:Attempting to establish a charge against God's elect is a waste of time.
Introduction:We have been looking into God's "for us" position. In Romans 8:31 Paul raised the question of our response to the activities of God on our behalf -- most particularly His action of undercutting the intended impact of every evil thing that is done to us. In that question, Paul used the terminology of God being "for us". To enhance our understanding of His commitment, Paul raised a third question: How shall He not, with Him, also freely give us all things? In our study last week we saw that God's commitment to give us "all things" is rooted in His willingness to give up Christ for our sakes and that His commitment to give us "all things" is not about getting a lot of junk stuff from Him, but getting everything that is necessary for real life and godliness. Christ was given to us to impart Life to us and nothing else that has any "Life" attached to it will be withheld either. So, in our last study, we were focused upon the extent of God's commitment to us.
Now, as we come to 8:33, we see that Paul approaches the issue from yet another angle. On one front we see that God is not inclined to personally withhold anything from us that has any "Life" attached to it. But, there is another "front": is it possible to "force" God away from His personal inclination by insisting upon His application of His own standards in regard to us? It is this issue to which Paul turns his attention in 8:33. What happens when someone brings a charge against us to God that has merit to it? It is to this issue that we turn this evening.
I. The Fundamental Assumption Behind This Issue: Our Failure(s).
A. There is significant confusion in the minds of those who live to destroy.
1. This means that sometimes, even in the presence of God, false accusations will be leveled.
a. This was the case with Job.
1) Lucifer despises God and he despised Job.
2) When God goaded him with Job's excellent track record -- to point out Lucifer's inexcusability for his own vile responses to God -- he reacted with accusation.
3) The accusation did not have to do with any "failure" in Job's actions; it had to do with Job's motivation.
a) Lucifer accused Job of self-interested obedience.
b) Interestingly this only added to Lucifer's own inexcusability in that God had done more for Lucifer than He had done for Job so that if Job was obedient because of the "gravy train", Lucifer had an even greater obligation to have been likewise loyal.
b. This is not "typical", for there are few like Job.
2. This means that most of the time no one brings a complaint to God about one of His own unless they honestly think it has "merit" -- i.e., the evidence of failure is undeniable in the face of Justice.
a. Normally, even those who live to destroy know their own methods pretty well.
b. Normally, this knowledge enables them to see them at work when others employ them (there is little confusion in identifying real evil).
c. But, there is yet "confusion" because the wicked cannot conceive of God's commitment to grace.
B. But even in the confusion, the issue of the text is not false accusations, but legitimate ones.
1. This means that Paul is dealing with God's "for us" position intheveryfaceof our failures.
a. It is one thing to deal with God being "for" those who "love Him" and make every effort to please Him in all things.
b. It is altogether a different thing to deal with God being "for" those who are less than loyal.
c. Paul is not dealing with a "pure" situation -- no one is perfectly "loyal" and none of the saints is perfectly "disloyal" -- but he is dealing with those who fall into the "disloyal" camp at this point.
2. This means that Paul wants us to understand something very clearly: God is "for" us.
II. The "Descriptor".
A. In this text, Paul stays completely away from "human responsibility" terminology.
1. He does not go to the "those who love Him" terminology of 8:28.
a. The reason is that 8:28 does have responsibility overtones: there is such a thing as real loss for those who fail to love God.
b. There are distinctions in the actions of God in respect to human response issues.
2. He opts for the "election" terminology.
a. "Election" terminology absolutely removes human merit from the picture.
b. God's intentions toward His "elect" are different from His intentions toward His "children" in regard to their responses: "election" is absolute and God's attitude in this arena is hardened and immutable.
B. In this text, Paul focuses upon "God's elect".
1. There are multiple reasons, but primary among them is God's principle of drawing His own into the proper attitude(s) [love, faith, loyalty, etc.] by meansof the prior practice of "kindness".
a. There is not a lot of love/loyalty developed by fear...the threats of wrath.
b. God is not after "outward conformity"; He seeks "loving loyalty".
2. Paul's claim is that a "charge" against God's "elect" will simply not produce what those who are making the charge hope to accomplish.
a. The idea of a "charge" is a legal attempt to impose consequences by establishing "guilt".
b. "Guilt", in respect to the "elect", simply will not work: Romans 4:8.
III. The Bottom Line: God Justifies.
A. The "problem" for the accuser is that he does not understand God's principle of grace in the face of justice: substitutionary atonement.
B. Since the problem of "guilt" under "justice" was "handled" by the perfection of Jesus, any "charge" ultimately depends, for success, upon some "failure", not at the "elect's" level, but at Jesus' level.