by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1 July 1, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(416)Thesis:We must not allow any perception of any kind to persuade us to not embrace the words of God .
Introduction:Last week we took our final look at Paul's argument at the end of Romans 8. In that study we saw that Paul took great pains to make absolutely sure that, no matter how you looked at it, the separation of the elect of God from His love is impossible. He used six different "categories" of ways to look at the issue and denied the possibility of a breach between the love of God and His elect in each of the six.
This evening we are going to "shift gears" as we move into Romans 9 because Paul "shifted gears". The shift is rather remarkable and, though reasonable, quite beyond our grasp in its key point. The remarkable factor is this: Paul no sooner finished expressing one of the most triumphal statements in the Bible than he immediately turned to an expression of one of the most painful realities in the world: great heaviness and continual sorrow. The mood shift is so profound that it almost gives us whiplash just trying to keep up with it. The "beyond our grasp" factor is this: a love so profound that it is willing to accept eternal condemnation on the behalf of another. The mood shift signals a shift in topics and the declaration of such love signals some deep water coming.
So, as we shift with Paul and are set up to anticipate some profoundly difficult issues, we need to be careful to grasp the meaning of his words as we move with him.
I. Paul's Preliminary Statements.
A. "I say the truth in Christ".
1. The word Paul used for "say" (NASB uses "I am telling") is the word in Greek that is typically indicative of its user's attempt to get his readers/hearers to accept what is coming as absolutely the truth.
2. That Paul attached the word "truth" to his verb is redundant unto emphasis: he seriously wants his readers to believe him.
3. That Paul also attached the phrase "in Christ" to his emphatic declaration is more of the same: his claim is that, since Christ is the "Truth", the only way his following words could be untrue (and, thus, unbelievable) would be if Christ could be unseated as the Ultimate Arbiter of Truth.
4. Taken as a whole, then, Paul's opening statement is a potent appeal to his readers to take what he says as absolutely true.
B. "I lie not".
1. The verb is a present indicative and arises from a concept of attempting to get someone to accept a false appearance as a fact.
2. This verb stands in direct opposition to the verb for "to say" used in the prior phrase: it is the antithesis of "truth".
3. This declaration is totally redundant unto emphasis so that his readers will believe him.
C. "My conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit".
1. With this phrase Paul pulls two more elements into his declaration that he is telling the Truth.
a. The first is his "conscience".
1) This is the inner monitor that Paul first introduced in 2:15 where he claimed that the presence of the law of God in the hearts of all men had, as a second 'voice', a sufficiently powerful backup so as to make an impact as to, at least partially, produce a lawful lifestyle in mankind.
2) The appeal to this inner monitor is Paul's way of trying to impress his readers with his truth-speaking.
b. The second is the Holy Spirit.
1) The "conscience" has its limitations.
a) It can be led astray (1 Corinthians 8:10).
b) It can be "put away" (1 Timothy 1:19).
c) It can be "seared" (1 Timothy 4:2).
2) Thus, the Holy Spirit is drawn into the equation in order to protect the idea of genuine truth-telling.
2. This addition simply adds to Paul's redundancy.
II. Paul's Rationale.
A. He apparently expects some heavy resistance to the claim(s) he is going to make.
B. He understands, however, how absolutelycrucial it is for his readers to lay down their resistance.
1. Paul's view of his message is that it is the "Gospel of God" (1:1).
2. Paul's view of man is that he will be subject to this "Truth" without regard for how he responds to it.
3. Paul's view of man's potential is for both enormous glory and enormous disaster, depending upon whether he responds to "Truth" correctly.
C. His understanding drove his "piling on of words" to make one point: what I am about to tell you is "Truth".
III. Paul's "Unbelievable" Truth.
A. Somehow he experiences both the triumphalism of the impossibility of a breach between himself and God and a "great heaviness and continual sorrow" in his heart.
1. Godliness is a great mystery.
2. In God, the extremes are not "muted to the middle", but are wildly extreme without Sin.
3. Somehow Paul has been brought to "godliness" where both joy and grief run amuck at the same time.