Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
Thesis: Because there is no external difference between "reaping" when the "sower" is unidentified and when the "sower" is the person "reaping", it is crucial that we understand that "sowing to the Spirit" boils down to maintaining a fixation of "faith" at all times.
Introduction: Let's say you are driving 90 in a 60 mph zone and you hit another vehicle and are severely injured. In a sense, you are "reaping corruption". Then let's say you were doing 60 in that zone and were hit by someone doing 90 and you were severely injured. How is that not "reaping corruption"?
It appears to me that we often misunderstand what the Bible says because we plug its statements into our orientation ... and come away confused. What Paul is addressing in this paragraph is, clearly, the very present danger of sowing the wrong kinds of seeds and setting ourselves up for living with consequences that will not, and cannot be, pleasant. And this leads to the most pertinent question of all: of what do the "seeds" consist and what is the nature of the consequences?
So, let's try to answer these questions as we look into Paul's words.
October 20, 2013
- I. The First Observation: Paul's Orientation.
- A. He cannot be looking at life in terms the external issues.
- 1. There is no room in Paul's theology for "Life" being the result of external factors.
- a. "Life" is available to everyone on the same basis without regard to physical issues that concern the condition of the body (a quadriplegic has as much access to "Life" as does a twenty-something athlete in peak physical condition; a person enduring a long, slow, disintegration of health has as much access to "Life" as does one who has no such issues to face).
- b. "Life" is available to everyone on the same basis without regard to the relational issues of the soul in respect to all others except God (a prisoner of war incarcerated by hateful and demonic sadists has as much access to "Life" as does a well-beloved person surrounded by doting admirers).
- c. "Life" is available to everyone on the same basis without regard to the status issues of the spirit in respect to all others but God (a person being deliberately humiliated on a very public forum has as much access to "Life" as does the person who is awesome and admired by vast multitudes of people).
- d. God's promise of "Life" is attached to only two determinative factors: God's integrity in fulfilling the promise; and man's confidence in God's integrity (i.e., "faith in God's words).
- 2. In Paul's theology of "Life" everything is rooted in internal factors.
- C. Thus, his orientation is concerned with the Promise/Faith condition of a man's soul.
- B. He cannot, then, be addressing an externalized form of "seeds" (sowing) and "fruit" (reaping).
- a. The external forms are overt actions taken.
- b. But all external forms are driven by internal foundations.
- 1. This means that his terminology has to be understood in terms of this most fundamental issue: the condition of one's soul in respect to whether "promises" are being "depended upon".
- 2. And this means that ...
- a. "Sowing" has to do with the underlying attitudes that drive the overt actions.
- b. "Reaping" has to do with the impact those underlying attitudes have upon the person when they return as a harvest.
- c. "The Flesh" has to do with our fallen Adamic heritage that is consumed with the determination to externalize everything so we don't have to face our inner reality.
- d. "The Spirit" has to do with God's presence within us as "The Presence" of "The Joy" in spite of the reality of our inner Adamic residue.
- e. "Corruption" has to do with the erosion of the "Joy of Faith".
- f. "Eternal Life" has to do with the explosion of the "Joy of Faith".
- II. The Second Observation: Paul's Time Frame.
- A. He is writing about " kairo" ": translated variously in vss. 9 (as "season") and 10 (as "opportunity").
- 1. His time frame is this present "time" in this present world setting.
- 2. He is not writing about our post "time" reality.
- B. His issues of "corruption" and "eternal life" are issues of this present era wherein we live as the children of God in a corrupt setting.
- III. The Third Observation: Paul's Acknowledgements.
- A. He acknowledges the reality of contrasting appearances.
- 1. "Corruption" does not appear till late in the process and, thus, often appears to be "an answer to prayer".
- 2. "Eternal Life" does not appear till late in the process and, thus, often appears to be "a dismaying example of corruption".
- B. He acknowledges the reality of inner conflict.
- 1. We have to deal with "deceit" (6:7).
- 2. We have to deal with "delayed satisfaction" (6:9).
- IV. The Fourth Observation: Paul's Insistence.
- A. First, he insists that we embrace the "promise/faith" reality in which "faith" is the present issue and "fulfillment" is the "hope in the future".
- B. Second, he insists that we use "time" to sow the "seeds" of godly attitudes in the face of the need for activities in light of the conditions presented to us by others (first, "believing others", and then "everyone in general").