Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: The debate over the method of justification can also be resolved by understanding what is required in forgiveness.
Introduction: In our studies of Paul's arguments regarding how a man is justified before God, we have seen that he deliberately "loaded" his readers up with the pressures of the "demand/performance" methodology. He set forth the scenario of the judgment of the Day of Wrath as a legal evaluation which includes both actions and motives so that no one can easily wiggle free of the sense of doom that is involved if an action or motive is discovered that is contrary to the demand of the Law. He then "unloaded" on those who would attempt to present themselves as capable of coming out of such a Day unscathed by scathingly accusing them of some of the sheerest forms of hypocrisy. And finally he quoted multiple Old Testament texts which declare the proposition that man is bereft of the kind of glory necessary to be sin-free.
Then, having made justification by works an impossible dream, he set forth the proposition that the Bible had always presented an altogether different method for gaining a decree of justification from God. He said that the Law and the Prophets gave witness to a "gift-righteousness" which was both the equivalent to the Righteousness which characterizes the glory of God and a gift that is given at the point of faith in the One Who justifies the ungodly. By this argument he made real justification a real possibility rather than an impossible dream.
The only thing that remained for Paul to do was to establish the legitimacy of his claim that this "gift-righteousness" was truly available from God by faith instead of by performance. This he set out to do by appealing to both Abraham and David. In our studies to date, we have looked into the evidence from Abraham's experience. This evening we are at least going to begin to look into the evidence from David's experience.
September 13, 2005
- I. The Major Distinctions Between Abraham and David.
- A. In terms of "covenant" significance, Abraham towers over David.
- B. In terms of "life experience" significance, David is seriously sub-Abraham.
- 1. Paul's "Abrahamic" material is mostly very morally positive.
- 2. Paul's "Davidic" material is set in the context of a heinous sin.
- II. The Major Point of Bringing David's Contrasting Experience into the Picture.
- A. No one really "minds" God "justifying" a man who has not done anything "really bad".
- B. But there is an enormous reluctance in man to accept God's "justification" of a person who has been guilty of vicious behavior.
- C. At the root of both of these "human" issues is the latent legalism that continues to be involved because of the arrogance of man.
- 1. Man hates to be humiliated and does not value true humility.
- 2. Man fights to maintain his "self-esteem" so that he may strut before others as worthy of their admiration.
- 3. Man's foundations for both his hatred and his striving is the belief that he is, indeed, superior to others and the proof is in his "right" behavior.
- III. The Major Truths of the Davidic Material.
- A. "Blessedness" arises from being "justified".
- 1. In 4:6 Paul makes the claim that David "established as doctrine" the fact that "blessedness" arises from God's "reckoning" of righteousness to a man.
- 2. And he goes further to say that this divine "reckoning" is on a basis that is totally divorced from man's behavior.
- 3. And finally he claims that the divine behavior consists of a refusal to "reckon" sin as the production of the man.
- a. The Textus Receptus has the dative form of "whom" (i.e., "to whom").
- b. The weight of evidence is that the form is ablative (i.e., "from whom").
- c. The argument is not developed until chapter seven, but there it is declared that a "justified" person's sins do not arise from him, but from indwelling Sin. Thus, God's reckoning is accurate.
- B. "Justification" is rooted in God's refusal to deal with man according to his behavior.
- 1. David extols "forgiveness of lawlessnesses" as a law-breaker.
- 2. David extols "the covering of sins" as a sinner.
- IV. The Major Problem for Man in the Davidic Material.
- A. Man does not like "forgiveness" to be detached from behavior issues.
- 1. The issue of "forgiveness" is deeply involved in the "works/faith debate" in that whatever will bring forgiveness obviously brings "treatment as though the sin had not occurrred". Forgiveness is not forgiveness if the relationship continues to be hindered by the barriers erected by sin.
- 2. What brings "forgiveness"? Is it the promise to adjust the behavior, or is it the confession of the reality of the fault in the person that produced the behavior?
- a. With men, "forgiveness" is very often tied to the idea of "Ok, I will forgive you this time, but it had better not happen again".
- b. With God, "forgiveness" is never tied to any notion that the human will not fail again. It is tied only to the twin issues of pride and despair that are intrinsically involved in repentance.
- c. The real difference between these two approaches has to do with the fact that God seeks humble confidence from the sinner while men seek the cessation of troubling behavior. Man's pride posits the belief that he can cease from sin; thus, he demands of others that they do also.
- B. Men do not like "forgiveness" to be available for those who "seriously" fail.
- 1. No one seems to mind very much that Abraham was "justified".
- 2. But there are legions who hate the idea that a person can do something really bad -- especially to them -- and still get the benefits of forgiveness.