Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10
Thesis: Escape from "law" involves surviving its ultimate application.
Introduction: At the root of the theology of those who oppose Paul's gospel is the assumption that their theology provides a better basis for godly behavior. The favorite accusation that arises from this assumption is that Paul's gospel actually makes sinful behavior both inevitable and acceptable. Paul, knowing this, anticipated the charge that his Christ is a Deacon of Sin and countered it by charging that it is not his message that makes sin inevitable and "ok", but, rather, the message of his accusers.
The message of the accusers is hopelessly contradictory. On the one hand it promotes the notion that those who are required to do good can do good. On the other hand it promotes the notion that those who can do good will not do good unless they are required to do good. The contradiction exists in the fact that the ability to do good does not exist in those who must be compelled to do good. Those who have the inner resources to do good, do good without rules. Those who do not have the inner resources to do good will not do good no matter how fraught with consequences rebellion is.
This evening we are going to pursue Paul's perception of how he has come, by his gospel, to the point where he possesses the ability to do good without a legal mandate to do so. Freedom from law is, from Paul's point of view, absolutely essential because it is the first step into the freedom to do good. The issue, the ability to do good, is at the heart of his debate with Cephas. Cephas has joined with those who claim that only the Law has the ability to correct the behavior of men and who, therefore, claim that Christ's gospel only encourages men to sin.
Where, then, does the ability to do what is right come from?
August 21, 2011
- I. It Begins With Real Freedom From Law.
- A. Paul's claim is that his ability to live "to/for/with God" is a result ( ina introduces an intended result) of being dead to law.
- 1. Living "to/for/with" God will eventually boil down to one thing: doing what is right.
- a. The formulation of an unspecified dative leaves the door open to several possibilities.
- b. But no matter which of the possibilities one chooses, the bottom line is still going to be "doing what is right".
- 1) No one can live "to" God while doing evil.
- 2) No one can live "for" God while doing evil.
- 3) No one can live "with" God while doing evil.
- c. This "doing what is right" is the issue of the text in its "Deacon of Sin" context.
- 1) There is no point to a "gospel" that does not deliver people from Sin because there is no point to being any message that leaves us subject to the ravages of Sin (If there is no Heaven; all that is left is Hell).
- 2) This issue of which doctrine actually provides the kind of right behavior required for people to enjoy their existence is the soft underbelly of all doctrine.
- 2. Paul's claim, therefore, is that one of the first issues of godly behavior is freedom from law.
- a. As long as "law" exists as a motivator of good behavior, good behavior will never be.
- b. At the heart of "law" is the threat of condemnation (there is no point to a demand that has no consequence for refusal).
- c. Under threat, no fallen son of Adam will ever do more than seek protection; a totally self-centered reaction that cannot produce good.
- II. It Begins, Then, With Ultimate Submission to Law.
- A. Paul's claim is that it was "through" law that he died "to" law.
- B. Paul's further claim is that he "was crucified with Christ".
- C. Thus, the only way to be free from law is to have it ultimately applied to the one seeking freedom.
- 1. There can be no question that Law cannot simply be dismissed.
- a. Why would the entire scenario of Christ's coming for redemptive purposes exist if Law can simply be dismissed?
- b. Why would Paul's method of escape be "crucifixion" if Law can simply be dismissed?
- 2. Biblically, the only way Law can be set aside is by fulfillment to the "n"th degree.
- 3. Because the "n"th degree of application of Law will, invariably, destroy the sinner, the real issue of escape from Law is the issue of "survival" of the application of it.
- a. It is no accident that resurrection from the dead is a key biblical doctrine in the setting of a sin-engaged world.
- b. Resurrection from the dead is the mechanism of "survival".
- c. Romans 6:4 actually declares that we will not live properly apart from resurrection.
- d. However, it takes more than mere resurrection to produce survival for all men will be raised, but not all will live (John 5:29).
- e. The biblical position regarding resurrection is that it provides an indestructible body for the spirit/soul of the person who "died" so that he/she might continue to exist.
- f. Thus, it is critical that the soul of the person facing death be united to the Spirit of Christ so that the resurrection will provide an indestructible body for that united reality.
- III. Its Culmination Exists in the Reality of Union to Christ.
- A. In terms of physical reality, Paul was not crucified.
- B. Therefore, in terms of crucifixion and its consequent freedom for the believer, there has to be another reality beyond the physical.
- C. The difficulty of deliverance from law by means of a non-physical crucifixion is the difficulty of understanding that other reality.
- 1. How do I get to the ultimate submission to law so that, like Jesus, I am crucified?
- 2. Where is the reality of co-crucifixion?
- a. In the Adamic bondage, we have to do nothing -- we do not have to "do" anything to be a participant with him; we do not have to "believe" anything to be a participant with him; we simply have to be born of parents who have the physical link to him.
- b. In the freedom of Christ, the process is not so automatic -- we are actively engaged in the processes of identity with Him.