Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
Thesis: God's actions on our behalf are what has given us life and what give us life.
Introduction: At the root of all of our lives exists a fairly simple principle: either God supplies us with what is necessary, or He does not. If He does, we live. If He does not, we die. If existence in the creation of God was existence in a very simple universe, life would be simple: just trust God at all times to provide what each circumstance requires. But the universe is not "simple" and, for that reason, we often face complexities that reach beyond the grasp of our understanding. The reason that the universe is not "simple" is that sin and death have been imposed upon it and that has brought about a clouding of our understanding that makes it impossible for us to "just trust God" for one reason: we do not know what our "setting" in creation is, nor do we know "what to trust God for" in a majority of the circumstances that we face.
It is this complexity that has created the need for our study of Romans. It is this complexity that drove Paul nuts in chapter seven. The facts are these: 1) we came into this world over-committed to having our way about everything and 2) it is with great difficulty that we even see the real problems, let alone have any power to do anything about them. The purpose of divine revelation and divine oversight of our particular experiences is to open our eyes to the truth about the nature of the problems and the essence of the solutions.
So, as we study Paul's words in Romans eight this evening we are looking for God's provision for our needs. Last time we saw that our greatest need has been met: we have been moved beyond the reach of condemnation by our placement into Christ Jesus. Now that the biggest problem has been solved, we are ready to go on into a further experience of discovering the solutions to the lesser problems.
May 22, 2007
- I. The Fundamentals.
- A. Our original condition.
- 1. We were "in bondage" to the "law of sin and death".
- a. There is no point to saying, "the Law of the Spirit of Life...has made me free" if I was not enslaved.
- b. There is no sense to saying, "I was enslaved" if the solution is in me.
- 2. Our bondage to sin and death was an absolutely pervasive over-commitment to getting what we want by the means we have chosen.
- a. This over-commitment is so profound that, for the most part, we do not even know that we are so committed.
- 1) Our emotions were designed to tell us of our commitments, but we only experience them, we do not typically listen to them.
- 2) Our minds were designed to evaluate our emotions, but our commitments block our perceptions (Ephesians 4:18).
- b. This over-commitment busily builds smoke and mirror "explanations" over time so that we cannot even see that it is the builder. [The woman whose dog was shot; the student who refuses to attend class on time or do the work the course requires; the family whose ancestor is not buried in the place they thought].
- c. This over-commitment began at our conception and birthed us into what Paul calls "bondage to sin and death"..."ye were dead in your trespasses and sins...".
- B. Our new condition.
- 1. We have been set free.
- a. This freedom is "absolute" in final terms: there is no condemnation.
- b. This freedom is "relative" in daily terms: I am only relatively free if I can recognize both the problem and the solution and practice the "principle of freedom".
- 2. We are under a new principle -- the principle of freedom.
- a. To understand this principle, we must understand "law" as Paul uses it.
- 1) At is most basic root, "law" is simply a statement (in any of a variety of forms: command, precept, demand, etc.) of God's methods of operation.
- a) God's methods of operation have a single umbrella reality: relationships between persons.
- i. God's universe is fundamentally "relational" and "mechanical" only as a sub-set of relationship.
- ii. Nothing in God's universe is of any value whatsoever that does not have the possibility of developing a healthy relationship between two or more persons.
- b) "Law" is simply an expression of how the essence of God works out in the relational universe.
- 2) In 8:3 Paul wrote of "what the Law could not do" as a reference to what Moses received at Sinai.
- a) What Moses received at Sinai was a comprehensive set of explanations of what relationships require.
- b) What Moses received was received within the context of people who were already enslaved to sin and death but who refused to admit it.
- c) What Moses received was designed to bring people to the point of being able and willing to admit their bondage by one principle: no provision of Life was included in what was given (Galatians 3:21).
- 3) But in 8:2 Paul wrote of two "other" laws.
- a) One is what he calls "the Law of the Spirit of Life".
- b) The other is what he calls "the law of sin and death".
- b. To understand the principle of freedom, we must understand its most basic issue.
- 1) This issue is explained in 8:3 in the phrase "...God condemned sin...".
- 2) The most basic issue here is this: God did... .
- c. To understand the principle of freedom, we must understand its most basic assumption.
- 1) The most basic assumption is explained in the phrase "...it was weak through the flesh...".
- 2) The most basic issue here is this: what the flesh automatically assumes is not true.
- a) The flesh is chewed up by pride and thinks itself capable of something worthwhile.
- b) But the flesh is capable of nothing worthwhile.
- II. The Practice.
- A. Everyone "walks" in some manner.
- B. Those who "walk after the Spirit" experience freedom.