Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
Thesis: Behavior is fundamentally a product of a spirit.
Introduction: Last week we looked into Paul's declaration of a serious "mismatch" between himself and God's Law. He said the Law was "spiritual" -- actually designed to function at the level of "spirit" -- but he was "carnal" -- actually enslaved to the process of physical function by indwelling Sin.
This evening we are going to pursue this issue of bondage so that we may better understand how it works.
April 3, 2007
- I. Paul's Focus Upon Behavior.
- A. He uses three different words to address his "behavior".
- 1. He uses the word translated "I am doing".
- a. This word is a combination word that mixes a preposition with a verb that focuses upon the use of energy.
- b. As a combination word, it introduces a higher level of intensity while simultaneously giving a sense of direction.
- c. What it means is: I am establishing something in irreversible history [Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says (Vol. III, p. 634) that it "signifies working at, and finally accomplishing, a task."].
- d. His use of this word at this point indicates that he is looking at his behavior from the vantage point of what it is that he has finally accomplished.
- 2. He uses the word translated "I am [not] practicing".
- a. This word is used when the desire is to create a picture of someone doing the same thing over and over.
- b. The implication is that a person's "practice" is the action that is taken every time the same issue arises.
- c. His use of this word indicates that he is looking as his behavior from the vantage point of the actual process for establishing something in irreversible history.
- 3. He uses the word translated at the end of the verse as "I am doing".
- a. This is the most general word for taking action.
- b. As a general term, the field of meaning has many flowers in it.
- c. The implication is that Paul is addressing everything he does.
- d. Thus, the use of this word indicates that he is looking at his behavior in the most general, all-inclusive, way.
- B. He addresses three different issues.
- 1. First, and tied to the issue of diligent production, is the issue of "not knowing".
- a. This word is typically the word for experiential knowing and often has the sense of "knowing so as to plant the seed for a later result" (quite literally in Matthew 1:25).
- b. Paul is pointedly saying that he has no real sense of what he is going to actually produce after he has labored to establish something (this is the underlying reality of what we call "the law of unintended consequences").
- c. Paul's claim is quite literally true quite apart from whether his behavior is sinful or righteous...no one knows how his labors will turn out beyond the most general and specifically temporal results.
- 2. Second, and tied to the issue of habitual practice, is the issue of "not pursuing desire".
- a. This word is typically used to express the exercise of volition in order to pursue a desired result.
- b. It is the weaker of two Greek words that indicate the pursuit of desire.
- 1) There is a word in Greek for "determined intention" where the idea is that of a marshaling of resources and a determined application of them to a goal.
- 2) There is a second word in Greek for "desired result" where the idea is that of an ideal that may or may not carry enough attraction to a person to generate in that person an extreme diligence.
- 3) This second word is Paul's word of choice in this phrase.
- c. What Paul is saying is that he habitually practices things that are actually contrary to his ideals.
- 3. Third, and tied to the issue of general activity, is the issue of "hating" a type of behavior.
- a. This is the "contrast word" to agape: it signals things that are considered of no worth.
- b. The point Paul is making is that his general behavior runs completely counter to his value system.
- 1) This means that he has an idea of which behaviors are necessary to accomplish which goals.
- 2) That he does not engage those behaviors, but, rather, engages contrary behaviors, is his perplexed claim.
- II. Paul's Meaning in This Text.
- A. Behavior -- even determined and prolonged behavior -- occurs quite apart from knowledge, volition, or values.
- B. The real issue of Life as a consequence of behavior is whatever lies beneath values, volition, or understanding.
- C. Paul's fundamental claim is, then, that the "spirit" that exists apart from the "person" is the real producer of the behavior of the body.
- D. This raises the bar on Paul's thesis that the active presence of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential for the actual production of godly behavior.
- 1. It is true that Paul puts a heavy emphasis upon the processes of the production of legitimate behavior -- the New Testament is the result of that emphasis -- but it is also true that in that New Testament he admits that human beings often run into situations where those processes break down [does he not teach that the Holy Spirit actually prays for us at those points when our understanding breaks down?? -- is this not a doctrine of ultimate "spirituality"??].
- 2. But it is also true that Paul also puts a heavy emphasis upon the necessity that we abstain from "living by the rules" instead of "living by the promises".