Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 6
April 24, 2007
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
1901 ASV Translation:
15 For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do.
16 But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.
18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not.
19 For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice.
20 But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.
- I. Paul's Denial of Personal Responsibility.
- A. At the very least, Paul's double claim (verses 17 and 20) that "it is not I that do it" does two things at the same time: it rejects "blame" and "credit".
- 1. Men, over all of history, have been heavily into the "Look what I did" mentality of striving to be seen as persons of "credit-worthy" performance.
- 2. Men also, over the same span, have been just as heavily involved in trying to escape the "Don't blame me" mentality of trying to be seen as not being responsible for evil.
- 3. These two long term efforts of men share one "bottom line": the aggressive lust for personal glory as an expression of an out-of-control "spirit" that chafes at the boundaries of creaturehood. There is, in all "spirits" in rebellion against their identity, a profound interest in attempting to find "Life" in "getting credit/escaping blame".
- B. As a natural consequence of Paul's double claim, there is a definition of the mechanics of "Life" that excludes the almost universal deceit that "Life" can arise out of the blame/credit milieu.
- 1. Paul's doctrine of redemption begins with a detailed expression of the foundations in the works of God for the elimination of "blame". It is called "forgiveness of sins", or, on the other side of the same coin, "justification".
- 2. Paul's doctrine of justification by grace, however, also begins with a detailed expression of the "grace" of God as the reality of God's performance on behalf of man so that no man can claim the "credit" for his "salvation" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
- 3. Since "Life" results from being "forgiven" and "justified", one thing is clear: Life does not arise out of, nor require, the recognition of accomplishment. It only requires the active presence of God as Friend and not Enemy. It is in God's presence that there is fulness of joy; it is at His right hand that there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11). There is only "acceptance" and not "rejection" in this reality of God's active presence. There is nothing of "I am accepted because I am a good performer" or "I am rejected because I am such a poor performer".
- C. The almost universal deceit exists at every level of human experience and in every expression of human thought. Except by faith in Paul's doctrine, there is no escape from the evil of making harmonious relationships the result of performance issues. Harmony arises out of agreement about what is valuable and what is true, not out of the very real outworking of the issues of Love and Faith. It is as natural as breathing to understand that behavior arises out of the determination of values and beliefs, but it is not the behavior that creates the agreement, but the agreement that creates the behavior. It is right to hold creatures accountable for their "works", but the accountability actually exists at the level of what is held to be valuable and true, not at the level of the "works" that arise out of those factors.
- 1. The major problem for Paul's doctrine is simple: people do not love the right things, nor do they believe him.
- 2. Because this is a major issue, human relationships struggle under the load of false loves and deceitful doctrines and getting any human relationship to "work" under these conditions is most difficult. It is only by the amazing grace (work) of God that any two people come to understand what is valuable and what is true at the same point in their mutual history.