Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 8
Thesis: What should we conclude is the actual impact of justification by faith upon behavior?
Introduction: In Paul's argument with Cephas, he focused his attention upon the facts of the Gospel. First, that any "flesh" that is to be justified before God will have to jettison the human tendency to depend upon a "fair" evaluation of what has been done "in the flesh". Second, that Jesus Christ was the only man Who has ever lived faithfully so that He could be evaluated by the Law and found sinless. And, third, justification before God only has one method: faith in the faithfulness of Christ Jesus.
This evening we are going to look into one of the issues behind the raging debate between Paul and those whom Cephas feared: the issue of how Christ is not a "minister of sin".
August 7, 2011
- I. Whence the Question.
- A. For all believers, the notion that Christ could be a "minister of sin" is blasphemy.
- 1. At issue is the meaning of "a minister of sin".
- a. The term translated "minister" is relatively common in the New Testament
- b. The term "minister" is typically used in settings where some task requires someone to pursue it (the verb behind the noun is actually translated "persecutor" as it produces the idea of someone vehemently pursuing the elimination of some enemy).
- c. We conclude that "a minister of sin" is someone who actively pursues the production of flawed behavior.
- 2. This notion is the worst kind of blasphemy because it alters the very essence of holiness and fundamentally faults the essence of Christ's faithfulness (obviously, "faith in the faithfulness of Christ" isn't going to be much good if that faithfulness is a lie).
- B. The question is why those who oppose salvation by faith in the faithfulness of Christ would charge Paul with making Christ out to be a "promoter" of sin.
- 1. The charge is leveled by those who cannot grasp the issues of regeneration and actual motivation.
- a. The charge is often made that "if you tell people that their justification has absolutely no contact with their behavior, people will have no motivation to do what is right".
- 1) If the charge is correct, Christ becomes "a minister of sin" because He enables people to do evil with impunity.
- 2) If the charge is correct, however, the only conclusion available to us is that people are hopelessly evil, and will remain so even if they are "forgiven".
- a) If the elimination of negative consequences results in a lack of motivation to do what is right, the only motivation for doing what is right is self-preservation.
- b) If self-preservation is the only motivation for doing what is right, love is a mythical delusion and selfishness is all that is left.
- c) If selfishness is all that is left, not even "Law" will be able to keep the lid on ungodly behavior.
- b. In contradiction to this charge, the biblical doctrine of regeneration is a teaching that God actually re-creates those who "believe" so that they are afterwards incapable of doing evil.
- 1) The biblical statements are unambiguous, just not understood.
- a) 1 John 3:9 -- "Whosoever is born of God ... cannot sin because he is born of God."
- b) Romans 7:17 & 20 -- "... it is no more I that do it ...".
- c) Galatians 2:20 -- "...I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me...by faith...".
- 2) The biblical doctrine of regeneration is not a teaching that the bodies of those who believe can not/will not be applied to the production of evil.
- a) "Regeneration" is not a completed fact until the Son sits upon the throne of His glory (Matthew 19:28).
- b) "Regeneration" awaits the "redemption of the body" (Romans 8:23).
- c) Until the completion of "regeneration", a dual-spirit reality actually exists within the unredeemed bodies of those who believe (Romans 7).
- i. There is a real "spirit" that is at work in the "sons of disobedience".
- ii. There is a real "Spirit" that is at work in the "sons of God".
- d) People do not keep this straight, but God does.
- e) The determinative reality is the condition of the "mind" in direct connection with the issue of "faith" (Romans 12:2).