Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
Thesis: Walking according to the Spirit only involves two issues: who is valuable and what has God said about pursuing that value?
Introduction: When we last met we did a kind of overview of God's purpose for redemption. Romans 8:4 says that God addressed our need for redemption so that the righteousness of the Law could be fulfilled in us.
It is notable that he did not say that God has redeemed us so that we can ignore the issues of our behavior. It is also notable that in 8:6 he clearly tells us that if we do ignore God's purpose in redemption, we will die.
This introduces a serious "tension" into our thinking, for if we respond to the "statement" as a "threat", in fear, we are in grave danger of twisting the Truth into the Lie because our "motivation" for responding is self-interest (the core issue of Sin). But, on the other hand, if we dismiss the "warning" as a non-issue we make Paul's mention of it useless.
I believe the resolution of this tension exists in 1 Corinthians 13:11: there is a difference between childishness and maturity. Children are absolutely committed to getting their way unless the consequences are more than they want to experience and fear is the only motivation that will address that. But, if one ever grows up, loving God becomes more "motivational" than fearing Him and it purifies us. So, God, being a realist and Paul, being His apostle, both deal with people in terms of the continuum that exists between absolute fear and perfect love. Romans 8 was not written to "perfected saints"; it was written to people on the continuum.
Therefore, as we look into Paul's explanation of God's purpose in redemption, we do so as "people on the way" who need both the attraction of Life and the fear of Death. This evening we are going to look into how God's purpose for redemption is achieved within this context of imperfect people.
June 26, 2007
- I. The Simple Answer.
- A. According to Paul, the accomplishment of the righteousness of the Law -- one of God's purposes for redemption -- is achieved by those who "walk not according to the flesh".
- B. The opposite reality is that the accomplishment of the righteousness of the Law is achieved by those who "walk according to the Spirit".
- II. The "Problem" With the Simple Answer.
- A. If there is no genuine understanding of the mechanics of "walking", assumptions about the process are simply inserted into the mix and blind arrogance takes over.
- B. If I cannot explain to another how to avoid walking by the flesh and how to walk by the Spirit, there is little chance that my "walk" will be anything other than a charade.
- III. The More Complex Answer.
- A. Beginning at the beginning: the "state of being".
- 1. There is a very sharp distinction drawn by Paul throughout this context between what a person "is" if he is "in Christ" and what a person "is" if he is not "in Christ".
- a. Romans 8:5 is dealing with "state of being".
- b. Romans 8:5 deals with two sharply distinct "states of being".
- 2. There is, however, also a very real "tension" that Paul admits throughout this context in that "believers" are compromised by a kind of "blurred reality" that exists in this life.
- a. This "tension" is most easily seen in the Romans 7 context where Paul claims both that he "does" evil and that he "does not" do evil.
- b. This "tension" is also fairly easily seen in our text this evening by the fact that Paul does not teach a "purist" reality about "state of being".
- 3. Paul's solution to this "tension" is always the same: explanation of Truth and an insistence that "believers" live up to their name -- believe the explained Truth.
- B. Continuing with the explanation.
- 1. The "state" produces a "focus" of attention.
- a. The NASB's translation "set their minds" must be understood not as a deliberate action, but as an automatic reality.
- 1) Those who are after the flesh "mind" the things of the flesh.
- 2) Those who are after the Spirit "mind" the things of the Spirit.
- b. The verb "set their minds/do mind" becomes, therefore, a crucial aspect of the explanation.
- 1) Behavior does not spring directly from the "state".
- 2) According to Paul's explanation, behavior springs directly from a "determinative focus" that is not primarily "mental".
- a) In 7:23 Paul denies the "potency" of the "mental facility", the "mind".
- b) In our text (8:5) Paul switches to the "phren" -- a word that originally meant the diaphragm that expands and contracts to produce breathing.
- i. The "phren" simply expands to force the lungs to accept what is in the "air" and contracts to force the lungs to expel what is within them.
- ii. As such, it forces the lungs to "work" as they have been designed to work.
- c) This switch puts the emphasis where Paul has already put it -- upon the most crucial instrument of physical activity.
- i. The quickest way to kill the body is to cut off the oxygen supply; the next quickest is to cut off the water supply; the slowest is to cut off the food supply.
- ii. Paul has already taught that the "flesh" and the "Spirit" are the most crucial instruments of physical activity so that a "fleshly diaphragm" enables the "air of evil" to fuel the blood supply which carries oxygen, water, and food to the muscles so that they "do" and a "Spiritual diaphragm" enables the "air of righteousness" to fuel the blood supply. [This may well be why the Bible calls the adversary "the prince of the power of the air" and our Comforter "the Holy Breath".]
- d) Thus, the "nature of the air" is the issue, the spiritual equivalent to the "air" is "spirit(s)", and the quality of the air is determined by what it contains (good air contains no harmful contaminants; bad air has the potential to kill by reason of contaminants), which, in the Bible, consists of "doctrine" (contaminating doctrines of demons or the pure doctrine of God).
- e) But, the central focus of "doctrine" is consistently given by Paul through his uses of this particular term (phren) as the benefit of others in contrast to one's own benefit.
- i . Paul's focus in "minding" is upon "others"; only when "others" (Note Romans 12:3; 12: 16 and 15:5) are the genuinely "valuable" can the Spirit produce His fruit. In Philippians 2:2, 2:5, and 3:15 he insisted upon a "fixed" value system that put others above oneself with a promise that this would be an area where the Lord would "reveal it to you" if you were off track. Ten of the twenty-one uses of this verb are found in Philippians.
- ii. But Paul also had another "focus": the focus upon divine revelation as absolutely determinative of "Truth". In 1 Corinthians 4:6 he insisted that "what is written" is the crucial bottom line in "relating to men" and in Galatians 5:10 he insisted that "Truth" was a critical fixation that would actually lead those who dismiss it into judgment.
- 2. But the "state" is a mixed reality for believers in this world so that they must be ready to "mortify the deeds of the body" (8:13) by submitting to the Spirit's insistence that they "inhale" true doctrine and subject what they "believe" to the "discriminatory function of their Spiritual lungs."