Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 15
Thesis: The "crucifixion" of the flesh has to mean that "the flesh" has, in some sense, been nullified.
Introduction: Every time we turn around in Paul's letters we run smack dab into his claim that "the flesh" of believers has been "crucified" (Galatians 2:20). Every time we turn around in life we run smack dab into the reality that "the flesh" of believers is still cranking out all manner of less than desirable behaviors (1 Corinthians 15:34). These "smack dabs" set our teeth on edge because they seem to be in hopeless contradiction; a contradiction of which Paul takes advantage in Romans 6:2.
The problem is both terminology and understanding. The terminology of "death" tends to set our minds off on a direction that ultimately ends at "incapacity". What can the dead do? And the terminology of "crucifixion" tends to pull our souls into the tension of "fear": the fundamental intentionality of Rome in the use of it. Crucifixion as a spectre (an issue of the future) has the most fundamental impact of fear; crucifixion as a past fact has the most fundamental impact of death.
This evening we are going to push ourselves a bit to see why Paul would bring the "crucifixion of the flesh", or the "death of the flesh", into play at this point.
August 11, 2013
- I. Paul's Fait Accompli Claim.
- A. The claim: those who belong to the Christ "crucified" the flesh along with its "passions" and "lusts".
- 1. The verb, "crucified", is found four times in Galatians, three of which are passive (this text has the single reference to "crucified" in the active voice).
- a. Clearly, Paul is saying that they who are Christ's did this deed.
- b. This active voice makes the "believer" the aggressor against the flesh.
- 2. The issues of "passions" and "lusts".
- a. The word translated "passions" is typically translated "sufferings" in the New Testament (eleven times out of sixteen texts) and refers to the painful experiences created when a person is subjected to the attempts of others to get him/her to alter their course of life, or, if not that, to punish him/her for his/her pursuits.
- 1) This usage strongly indicates that "sufferings"/"passions"/"afflictions"/"affections" are specifically motivational issues with specific intent to direct choices and actions.
- a) "Sufferings" are not the actual instrument of choices/actions; they are tools of those who wish to dominate the choices/actions of others.
- i. The only reason for the insertion of "sufferings" is the desire for leverage in the choices/actions that others intend to take.
- ii. This means that it is the "spirit" of the "sufferer" that is being addressed with "threat"/"consequences" in order to alter the behavior of the body.
- b) At the root, then, of "sufferings" is the "love" agenda: what objective/goal is in view?
- 2) According to Hebrews 2:10, Christ was "perfected" by the things He suffered.
- a) The strong implication is that, since "Love" is the perfection of all attitudes, Christ's "sufferings" made it extraordinarily clear what it was He "loved" and would not "give up".
- b) Everyone's sufferings press this issue: who/what is really important here?
- i. Being subjected to "sufferings" force those subjected to decide the answer to this question at a level where the determination takes deep root thereafter.
- ii. Being "perfected through sufferings", then, means "being solidified in the arena of values" so that a person's basic values are settled and reinforced by the process of being subjected to suffering and deciding, in that setting, what is truly valuable to the sufferer.
- (i) If "suffering" causes a person to alter his/her course, clearly that course did not have a very high status in the priority system held by the sufferer.
- (ii) Alternatively, if "suffering" is endured in spite of the ability of a change of course to alleviate it, the course is considerably valuable.
- 3) Paul's use of "passions" ("affections"/"suffering") in respect to the flesh is, clearly, a reference to something of the "flesh" that genders the evil deeds of the body [the root of every evil deed is its "value" to the doer in the pursuit of his/her agenda].
- 4) Thus, the "passions" of the flesh are its deeply held motivations (its "love").
- b. The word translated "lusts" is an intensified form of "desire".
- 1) As "desire", all but one is a "methodological desire" (a short term goal that falls into its place with other short-termers as steps taken to achieve a larger goal).
- 2) As "methodologies", "lusts" are simply the desires that are pursued to achieve the larger Goal.
- 3) Thus, Paul's use of "lusts" is almost automatic: "crucifixion" of the flesh has to address both objectives and methods.
- B. The claim is couched in "past tense" terms; the issue of "spectre"/"fear" is not really on the table.
- C. The claim is couched in inclusive terms: every believer "crucified" the flesh.
- 1. When?
- a. The only "when" that is a constant for every person who belongs to Christ is the point in time when the person becomes Christ's.
- b. This is not a "maturity" issue; it is a root element of "conversion" (transformational birth into a new identity).
- 2. How?
- a. The universal constant in terms of methodology is faith.
- b. It is by "believing" specific truth(s) that any/every accomplishment is accomplished.
- 1) By "believing" the "Promise" at the level of its impact upon the fleshly body, the "passions and lusts" that exist at this level were "crucified" (the values that arise out of the physical flesh of all human beings were clarified and settled and the means to the achievement of those values was embraced).
- 2) By "believing" the "Promise" at the level of its impact upon the soul of man, the "passions and lusts" that exist at this level were "crucified" (the values that arise out of man's identity as a "living soul" were clarified and settled and the means to the achievement of those values was embraced).
- 3) By "believing" the "Promise" at the level of its impact upon the spirit of man, the "passions and lusts" that exist at this level were "crucified" (the values that arise out of man's identity as a "being of spirit" were clarified and settled and the means to the achievement of those values was embraced).
- c. The problem of this "faith" methodology is the inherent instability of "faith".
- 1) The content of faith is constantly being subjected to challenge (hence the issue of "suffering" as a "force" in regard to "settlement").
- 2) The stability of faith is the constant objective of God in His dealings with us.