Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3
Thesis: Our spirits are given what they need by faith in both the divine objective and the divine method.
Introduction: As we opened our studies of Romans 5, we immediately saw that Paul was attempting to make sure that we understand how his focus upon "faith's" application of God's actions in Jesus was designed to meet our soul's real need(s). The entire issue of having -- both peace with God and a past that includes an introduction to grace so that we clearly take our stand in it -- is what I have called a "soul" issue. Ever since God created man, he has had a deep-seated need to be safe and a deep-seated focus upon "having" as the way to be safe. These "needs" are of two kinds: the first is an "objective" kind (a need defined in terms of what is valued/loved); and the second is a mechanical kind (a need defined in terms of how to obtain the what). Man has little trouble identifying his need to be safe. He has more trouble identifying a workable method for obtaining it. But, in Paul's declaration that we have both peace and a standing in grace, we have God's method for our security. An interesting insight here is that Paul acquiesces to the human insistence that we must "have" in order to be safe; but, he deliberately challenges what the vast majority of human beings have settled on to define what it is that we must have. Materialism, with its inherent, idolatrous focus upon possessions, is the human answer to the security need, but relationalism is God's answer.
Now, this evening we are going to go, with Paul, one step further. Having declared that our souls can fully rest in grace and peace, he turns immediately to another issue: exulting. As we mentioned last week, exulting is a "spiritual" issue. For Truth to "work" in an individual's life, it must address the individual where he lives. That means that not only must the "soul" be established in rest, the "spirit" must also be addressed. This area is highly problematical...so much so that the Bible tells us that the only real solution is to have the Spirit of God take up residence in our bodies. But, even with the Spirit in residence, the area of the spirit continues to be most problematical. It is in the spirit of man that the determination exists to be "independent" so that man can establish himself as a "valuable self". Since the spirit of man ultimately determines what the body does, this is a serious problem because the insistence upon being established as a "valuable self" almost invariably turns into a body that both does things and boasts afterwards of what it has done. Paul's criticism of the "Jew" in 2:16-3:18 came to a head in 3:27 where he "excluded" boasting. But, now, in the text before us, he returns to the issue (the word in 3:27 is the noun form of the verb found here). And here he claims that "boasting" is a legitimate activity.
What is going on?
In a word: Paul is addressing how God has moved to address the issue of the spirit. So, that is going to be the focus of our study this evening.
February 7, 2006
- I. The Issues of Paul's Exulting.
- A. First, there is the issue of being a part of God's own "Life" -- having a share in His glory.
- B. Second, there is the issue of not being ashamed when the process of the development of our participation in His "Life" is completed and evaluated (5:5).
- C. Third, there is the issue of being the object of Someone's focus of attention as one who is fundamental to His own "Life" (5:5-8).
- II. The Underlying Issue of "Boasting".
- A. When it is all said and done, the real issue that is involved is man's need (not simply desire) to be so much the center of someone's attention that he gets from that someone the sense that he is of incredible value.
- 1. At the root of man's "spiritual" identity is the created reality that he is an active doer.
- a. This was the whole point of God's "breathing into man's nostrils the spirit of life".
- b. Everywhere in all the Scriptures there is a definitive link between "spirit" and "doing".
- 2. Tied to this identity is a deep-seated need for the doing to be effective.
- a. This is the whole point of being given the ability to do.
- b. This is the foundation for the entire issue of "judgment" -- the evaluation of whether a person contributed to "Life" or attempted to destroy it.
- 3. And tied to the need to be effective is the need to be recognized as effective by others.
- a. This is not a mere "desire" -- for the sense of impending "judgment" is the sense of "recognition", and the overtones of "judgment" are overtones of "effectiveness".
- b. Man needs to be recognized by God as having been effective for "Life" as God is going to remove, or enhance, according to His "recognition".
- 4. And tied to the recognition of others is the emotional reaction of great pleasure in being recognized for being an effective doer.
- 5. The real "bottom line" here is not the doing, not the effectiveness, and not the recognition: these are all simply means to one end -- the emotional reaction of great pleasure in being the center of someone's value system.
- B. The reason Paul can so forcefully reject "boasting" in 3:27 and embrace it in 5:2 is that he makes a sharp distinction between the "real need" and the "misguided desire" issues.
- 1. Since the "bottom line" is the great pleasure of being in the center of someone's love, Paul can address the issue of the great pleasure as a legitimate thing.
- 2. Since the "desire" to be recognized as effective is a means-to-an-end issue, he can reject that aspect of "boasting" that has to do with the attempt to get others to "get on board" the train of "how indispensable I am".
- a. A serious "twist" has occurred within man regarding his need for being beloved and his desire to fill that need by making himself indispensable by his labors.
- b. There is an enormous difference between being beloved and being seen as indispensable by reason of contributory labor.
- 1) In man's mind, being indispensable is the only way to being beloved (no one will love me if I don't have something they need from me).
- 2) In man's mind it is incredible that anyone would "love" who does not "get from" the beloved.
- 3) Thus, being "indispensable by reason of contribution" is the equivalent to being "loved" in the mind of man.
- 4) But, with God there is no linkage between love and indispensability: God's loves in order to be able to give, not get. None are "indispensable" but all are "beloved".
- 3. God's effective "love" is poured out upon those who recognize that they have nothing to offer and cease to insist upon love being a reward for good behavior.
- 4. Thus, man can exult in his position before God as an object of His love.
- III. The Process of Development.
- A. From the thesis that God loves without tying it to what He gets out of it, Paul moves to the thesis that God is "into" reproducing that same love in those He loves.
- B. Thus, there is the building process of tribulation, perseverance, character, and hope. There is nothing like tribulation to compel us to deal with whether we are loving to get, or loving to give.