Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 6
Thesis: Discarding both "blame" and "credit" issues as "means" to Life is crucial, but difficult.
Introduction: Last week I argued that Paul's double disclaimer of personal responsibility in Romans 7:17 and 7:20 had heavy "T"heological overtones. It is because God is a God of Grace that Paul can argue in our text that he is not personally responsible for his behavior. On the one hand, if God is a God of Grace He can declare as true what Paul declared in Romans 4:8: God does not "take into account" the sins of His forgiven people. Now, if He actually does not do that, He is either irrational, or unjust, or He has a valid basis for such a refusal. It is Paul's explanation in Romans 7 that makes it possible for us to understand God's refusal to acknowledge the sins of believers. God does not acknowledge them for one reason: they do not do them. There is, in human terms in the human shadow land, an assessment of responsibility to believers that is a massive deceit. Believes are "blamed" for committing sins. But, there is another perspective that arises from divine terms in the divine reality land. This perspective is the reality of Sin's responsibility for all sins that are accomplished in this world. In Romans seven, Paul is dealing with the visible deceit of the shadow land and the invisible truth of the reality land. In the shadow land, "I" produce sins; in the reality land "Sin" is the real culprit. The shadow land is the realm of the five senses; the reality land is the realm of divine revelation. Men can only see what comes out of the body; God reveals the invisible reality within the body. So, because God as the God of Grace is One Who "does for us what He requires of us", His production is attributed to us by faith and, thus, nothing else is attributable to us.
Then, on the other hand, if God is a God of Grace Whose universe functions on the basis of what is valuable and what is true, the Judgment Seat of Christ will not be an exercise of "assigning responsibility" but an exercise of "revealing reality". Everything produced by Sin will be revealed to have been produced by Sin, and everything produced by the Spirit of Jesus indwelling the saints will be revealed to have been produced by that Spirit. The outcome of that judgment will be an assignment of eternal service based upon what was actually loved and believed by the believer in this world.
Such was the gist of our study last time.
This evening we are going to pursue Paul's disclaimer a bit further. We are going to look at its inevitable conclusions.
April 24, 2007
- I. The Distortion of the Creation by Sin.
- A. Ever since Genesis three, men have sought to do two impossible things.
- 1. On the one hand, they have sought to escape the blame due them for their behavior.
- a. When confronted by God after they had sinned, both Adam and Eve attempted to lay the blame for their sin at someone else's door.
- b. In the long-term outworking of that commitment to escape, we currently see the so-called "scientific" arguments that make "sins" a genetic reality apart from the biblical explanation.
- 1) Science has discovered a part of the brain that, if manipulated, can block a person's bondage to self-destructive habits.
- 2) Science has discovered a gene that, if altered, can keep a person from gluttony.
- 3) Science has discovered a genetic basis for sexual preference issues.
- 4) Science claims to be able to physically explain sin problems and has come up with physical chemicals that are supposed to have the ability to solve them.
- 5) The Bible does not deny that men have been subjected to bondage through their genetics, but it does deny any solution that does not start with the active work of the Spirit of God.
- 2. On the other hand, they have sought by every conceivable means to acquire what they see as the credit due them for their behavior.
- a. At every level of behavior and culture, men are found to be jockeying for the credit for what has been accomplished.
- b. There is no arena of life on this earth that is not deeply infected by the lust for credit, and the striving is routinely accepted as acceptable, and rewarded.
- B. Paul claims that it was the purpose of the period of the Law to bring this distortion to light.
- II. The Correction by the Grace of God.
- A. Because God is a God of Grace, He can, and does, drive a very real wedge between men and their sins.
- 1. On the one hand, this wedge is called "forgiveness": a doctrine in which the God of Grace both satisfies the demands of Justice in regard to sins and then separates certain men from their sins so that they cannot be charged with them [This is Romans 4:7-8].
- 2. On the other hand, this wedge is called "justification": a doctrine in which the God of Grace imputes His actions to His people so that they cannot be condemned [Note Romans 8:33-34].
- B. But, there are very real consequences to the Grace of God.
- 1. On the one hand, men are set free from the "blame".
- a. It is honestly true to fact that believers cannot be "blamed" because they do not do the blameworthy thing.
- b. This is the heart and soul of Paul's double disclaimer in Romans 7:17-20.
- 2. On the other hand, however, it is also true that men are set free from the "credit".
- a. It is honestly true to fact that believers cannot be given the "credit" because they do not produce the credit-worthy action (I do not mean here that God cannot impute to them the accomplishments of Christ for them; I only mean that neither they, nor other men, nor even God, can honestly say that they actually did what is seen as credit-worthy).
- b. This is the heart and soul of Paul's doctrine of the God of all Grace.
- 3. The conclusion that we must draw is this: though men are often happy enough to be set free from the "blame", they are supposed to be just as happy to be set free from the "credit".
- III. The Reality in This Present Conflict.
- A. The fact is that men who embrace the freedom from blame do not embrace the freedom from credit.
- 1. They have no "problem" with seeing God's separation of them from the blame as a "joyous freedom".
- 2. But they have a huge "problem" with seeing God's separation of them from the credit as any kind of "freedom" at all.
- B. The fact is that all men are so deeply infected with the lust for glory that even believers are only enabled to see "credit" as a bondage by long term Spiritual diligence.
- 1. I do not mean "their" diligence.
- 2. I mean the Spirit's diligence on their behalf.
- 3. If we come to view "compliments" with the same perspective with which we view "insults", we will have finally come to "freedom".
- C. It is the failure of men to be consistent with the doctrine that causes the resistance to the doctrine.
- 1. If you go out and tell believers that they do not sin, you will find few, if any, who will agree with you and who will not label you with a "cult" status.
- 2. But, it is inescapable that if God is a God of Grace, we must accept our absolute freedom from blame and our absolute freedom from credit.
- a. If we do not accept our freedom from blame, we will carry guilt around as a life-destroying mantle.
- b. If we do not accept our freedom from credit, we will swell up in boastfulness in a life-destroying attitude.