Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
February 12, 2017
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.
1901 ASV Translation:
12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh:
13 for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
15 For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God:
17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified with [him].
- I. The Automatic Obligation.
- A. We do not live in a consequence-free universe. Every action, whether "legal" or "gracious" has real time, real world repercussions.
- B. Any good thing that God does for us in grace puts us under an "automatic" obligation.
- 1. This "obligation" is not "demanded by grace", but it is an inescapable moral reality. It is simply the nature of evil to take from grace and give nothing in return, and the nature of good is to respond in gratitude to every goodness extended.
- a. It is true that "grace" is extended without regard for any "demerits" that would tend to be seen as exclusionary.
- b. It is also true that "grace" does not withdraw so that the former "legal"situation is reestablished.
- c. But it is not true that "grace" imposes no "obligations" upon those who receive of it.
- 2. The noun translated "debtors" is a word that signals some form of obligation. Matthew 18:24 uses it to refer to a man who had contracted a monetary debt (he "owed" ten thousand talents). In this text, the "obligation" is more than "moral"; it is also "legal" and carries with it "legal" penalties for default. Luke 13:4 uses the term with a different slant. It refers to people whose experiences of disaster are interpreted by others to be the result of being careless about their "moral" obligations. Paul, in Romans 1:4, uses it even differently than Matthew or Luke in that he expresses by it a sense of his stewardship over God's commission to him to be a "preacher" to the lost (1 Corinthians 9:17). This sense of "obligation" carries with it a strong sense of "woe" if he is in default. And in Romans 15:27 he uses the term to express a relationship of obligation that the Gentiles have toward the Jews and employs both the noun and the verb to get this idea across. He carries the idea forward in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 by saying that God has "bought us with a price" and, thus, we "belong" to Him and have "obligations" toward Him as His purchased possessions.
- 3. The point is this: "grace" is all about how one acts or reacts to the behavior of another that is less than it ought to be; it is not "all about" what ought to be. Men "ought to be" loving and truthful in all of their ways. Nothing can dismiss this "ought". "Grace" simply means that God chooses to handle their failures in a way that does not reflect "justice" relating to the "ought". He is not dismissing the significance of the "ought", but He is addressing it in a way that is not "legal". The bottom line is this: God knows that a "legal" approach simply shuts down the offender by dumping him/her into Hell while a "grace" approach opens up a real door to a real pursuit of the fulfillment of the "ought". The righteousness of The Law is met by those who walk by grace. And not even "Grace" can be rejected forever without a divine withdrawal of its benefits: Hell continues to exist for those who impenitently abuse the goodness of God that is designed to bring them to repentance (Romans 2:4).
- C. The obvious direction of the obligation: not to the flesh.
- 1. This appears to be an odd declaration: who would/could argue that "the flesh" has any imposed "oughts" that have any foundations in either "law" or "grace"? What "law" says I am obligated to fulfill the persistent insistences of my flesh? What "grace" says I am so obligated?
- 2. Why would Paul even utter a denial that is so obvious? What is it that he realizes about human beings that would move him to such a redundancy? Is he being "tongue in cheek"? Is he being sarcastic? The belly for meat and meat for the belly? Is he saying that some actually think that just because God made the belly to let its owner know of its emptiness that owner is "obligated" to feed it? Is denial of a fleshly lust a denial of the Creator of the body? Obviously not.
- II. The Automatic Consequence.
- A. Rooted in the "if" of "living" "according to the standard of flesh".
- B. Death is the outcome in both an immediate departure of "Life and Peace" (8:6) as well as an incipient growth of bondage to The Sin unto the death of the body.
- III. The Alternative.
- A. "Life" by the "putting to death" of the "deeds of the body".
- 1. This is as clear a connection between "flesh" and "body" as we could find anywhere. Flesh is, clearly, more than just the "body", but it has clear and fundamental links to the body and its "appetites". The bottom line is that "fleshliness" is rooted in the interests of the physical body and its identity is the "minding of the things of the fleshly body" (8:5).
- 2. The issue of "putting to death" is the issue of a final cessation of activities.
- 3. What is "put to death" is the "praxis" of the body. The word is used illuminatingly in Rom 12:4 where Paul points out that the members of the physical body each have their own "praxis" (function). Each member, with its own "praxis", is supposed to work together with every other member, but the conglomerate must have an overriding objective in its "workings". The problem for the believer is that this multi-faceted conglomerate is under an overriding "love" and that "love" is completely at odds with God's "Love" in that it sets itself and its interests above every and all other considerations.
- B. The "putting to death" is not "of the owner of the body"; it is "of" the indwelling Spirit Who is willing to "put to death" every "praxis" of the members of the body that is not geared toward God and His objectives in Creation.
- 1. In a sense, this is "of the owner of the body" as long as we understand that we are in possession of the authority to apply God's Spirit's resurrection power to our circumstances by "faith".
- 2. But, in the greater sense that it is God and His Spirit Who actually exercise the power as we "trust" in the promises He has made about His willingness to dominate our depravity for our good.