Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 15
Thesis: Man's competition for the central position of "demonic divinity" is intense.
Introduction: When Paul began to level his charges against mankind in Romans 1:29-32, he first laid out man's potent aversion toward everything Christ represents: righteousness, a servant's heart/mind, a focus upon people, and an over-arching commitment to Life as it is in God. Then he moved to a description of what man is like because he has been shut out of that Life by God's retributory vengence: because he is filled with envy, he lashes out at everyone who seems to have an experience that is more desireable than his own...but the categories remain fundamentally the same. In the text before us this evening we move into a third stage of the apostle's description of man. In this stage we discover six characterizations that are put together around a common thesis: Man is a powerful competitor for the central position in his world as defined by what I call a "demonic divinity". In a cliche, man wants to be at the center of the universe.
October 12, 2004
- I. The Structure.
- A. There are three sets of two characterizations.
- B. The first and last set appear to be focused upon "methods" and the middle set appears to identify the "hated reality".
- 1. This makes this a simple chiasm.
- 2. This tells us what the issue is: competition for the position of demonic deity.
- II. The Meaning of "Demonic Deity".
- A. The words are an oxymoron.
- B. But, man's non-think approach to everything in his world is oxymoronic because he has been turned over to a mind that cannot think.
- C. The words signify the kind of "deity" that a "demon" envisions when he sees himself as the "deity".
- 1. This "kind of deity" is identified by the words "haters of God".
- a. The word "God" is the routine word for God.
- b. This "routine" word has a most basic focus: the Executor of Power.
- c. Thus, the phrase "haters of God" means that the "hater" despises the way the current "God" controls things.
- 1) The current "God" controls things according to the fundamental principles of "righteousness, servanthood, and other-focus".
- a) At this point, His control is not absolute in that He permits many violations of the principles.
- b) But, at some point, His contol always totally defeats those who have rejected the three principles.
- 2) The demons have all rejected the three principles with an absolute antipathy; so, it goes without saying that they will "hate" anyone who attempts to pursue the course laid out by the three.
- 2. This "kind of deity" is further identified by the second element in the central set: "insolent".
- a. This word, according to Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon, refers to violence that springs from the "pride of strength".
- 1) The "pride of strength" issue ties it directly to the "God-hater" issue since the key concept there is hatred for the Executor of Power.
- 2) The "pride of strength" issue also enables us to see that the underlying attitude is...
- a) That the one who has the strength has the right to determine the agenda; and...
- b) That the agenda is supposed to "serve" the Strong; and...
- c) There is no "other-focus" here except upon "the servants of the Strong" as those who must focus only upon Him.
- d) In a nutshell, the problem here is the absence of concern for others. In the demonic deity scenario, others exist only for the pleasure of the Strong One, who has no concern for any but himself. The bottom line in the demonic deity scenario is the huge hypocrisy of the Strong One requiring of others what he refuses for himself.
- 3) The "pride of strength" issue also tells us that the "insolent" consider themselves as "superior in strength" and, therefore, free to do to others as he pleases, without constraints regarding their best interests. 1 Timothy 1:13 is a classic illustration of this as Paul says that his view of God as a "blasphemer" was that He was the Demonic Deity, and that allowed him to justify both his "persecution" of those who followed a different Deity as well as his "violent insolence" (as he took on the characteristics of his 'deity').
- b. This word is weighted in the direction of the actions taken by the person who holds to the demonic theology...so that Paul's presentation is not that of someone who is simply 'mildly miffed' but is, rather, intensely opposed.
- III. The Methods of the Demons...Replicated in Humanity.
- A. According to the first set of two...
- 1. A fundamental method is "covert slander".
- a. The translation "gossips" is probably way off target.
- b. The word typically refers to "slanderous whispers".
- 2. A second fundamental method is "raucous domination by speech".
- a. The translation "slanderers" is, again, off target (it would have been better used for the word mistranslated "gossips").
- b. The word typically means to "make noise against" and the implication is that the noise is overbearing -- the theological equivalent of "shouting down" the bearer of the contrary message.
- 3. Thus, the first couplet refers to the use of speech in its most silent and its loudest forms as a way to demand that others "serve me" regardless of the cost to themselves.
- B. According to the final set of two...
- 1. "Arrogance" has to do with the driving attitude that consists of the "I am worthy of being served" mindset.
- 2. "Boastful" has to do with a fundamental method for getting that attitude to be shared by others.
- 3. Thus, the last couplet refers to the use of speech to promote oneself as the legitimate object of abject service.
- C. In summary...
- 1. It is a fundamental characteristic of mankind that he has bought into the doctrine of the demons that "God" should be served at all costs because He believes that and "I" am that "God".
- 2. It is, therefore, fundamental that speech by human beings will be dominated by the "theology" of the demons and will be used in "demonic" ways.
- a. Speech is the most destructive of all weapons...it is a spark that can ignite whole forrests.
- b. Speech lays the foundation for all activity...it provides the justification for the behaviors that follow.
- 3. Man is, thus, characterized as a competitor for the position of "God" -- a truely non-think activity.