Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 5
August 3, 2004
Lincolnton, N.C.

<047> Thesis: The only solution to the condition of man is the creation of a new heart and a discipline that makes that new heart become dominant. Introduction: In our study last week we looked into the question of what it was about God that man began to see with sufficient clarity that it moved him to rebel. Many think that it is God's demandingness that strikes a chord of rebellion in man, and, in a sense, that is true. But, there is something deeper than "demand" that man despises: it is God's willingness to sacrifice Himself for another's sake that makes man extraordinarily uneasy. Our argument last time was that it is not "demandingness", per se, to which man objects (since man does not object to being 'required' to do things if he likes doing those things), but, rather, it is the insistence that man adopt the characteristics of the love of God that man finds unpalatable. The reason? Man simply hates the thought of someone else's need bringing him to need. This is what the "law" surfaces. Law, as the expression of the true glory of God, requires man not only to limit himself for the sake of another, but to actually sacrifice himself for the sake of another. In Jesus' summary of the Law -- "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6:5) and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Leviticus 19:18) -- there exists a tacit understanding that "love" will sacrifice oneself for the sake of another. And, the Law not only demands this, it imposes the penalty of total loss upon those who refuse to voluntarily lose. So, in Paul's words, "...the Law worketh wrath..." (Romans 4:15). The question arises: if it is so bad to be "unloving", why does the Gospel approach the issue by taking the demand away? Does not the Gospel "promise" eternal life without the requirement of self-sacrifice? And is not the promise of eternal life a relegation of "sacrifice" to the level of an incidental matter? If "death for another" is followed by "resurrection to unending life", where is the "sacrifice"? In fact, does not the Gospel "promise" that anyone who will "believe" will be "secured forever" from the penalty of the failure to love? Is not the vision of "eternal life" that of Revelation 21:4 ["...and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away..."]? How does this "vision" appeal to man if not to "promise" him that the days of sacrifice are over? The answer to these questions is unveiled in the text before us this evening: Romans 1:21. This text tells us that man's flight from the truth about God is so profound that he cannot and will not flee to God unless the Gospel arrests his flight by revealing to what lengths God has gone to erase man's fear of self-loss.