Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
Thesis: Because Christ dwells in us, we are free to live without being in bondage to the condition of our bodies.
Introduction: Last week we raised the question of whether the presence of the Spirit in a person's life automatically leads to a general lifestyle of godliness. We answered that question with a qualified "No". There is a significant difference between the presence of the Spirit and the execution of the power of the Spirit. Just because God is present does not mean that He is powerfully active. Omnipresence is not of the same type of attribute as Omnipotence. Omnipresence means that God is present everywhere simultaneously. He cannot "not be" present. Omnipotence, on the other hand, means that God is capable without limit. But He can refrain from the total exercise of His power. He can finesse power, but not presence. Because of this, the Bible teaches that there is a deliberate connection between man's "faith" and God's execution of power. When man is unbelieving, God restrains Himself in what He will and will not do. But when man is believing, omnipotence underwrites God's actions so that what man "believes" God "accomplishes". [Please note that this is only true because "faith" is not a human initiation -- man does not become the god by "believing" something; he simply becomes an effective servant of the God Who has created the content of "the faith".]
This evening we are going to look into one of the most crucial consequences of Paul's declaration that the Spirit of God dwells in every believer for the purpose of sponsoring life in him/her.
July 31, 2007
- I. Understanding What the Spirit Does Not Do.
- A. Paul uses the terminology variously, depending upon what he wishes to emphasize.
- 1. The "Spirit" is called "the Spirit of Life" in 8:2, "the Spirit of God" and "the Spirit of Christ" in 8:9, "the Spirit of Him Who raised up Christ from the dead" in 8:11, and "the Spirit of adoption" in 8:15.
- 2. When Paul writes "if Christ be in you", he is referring to the indwelling Spirit, not the incarnated Christ Who sits at the right hand of the Father.
- 3. Paul's doctrine of the Spirit is that He is "God" just as the Father and the Son are "God" so that it makes no practical difference that it is the Holy Spirit rather than the incarnated Son that is "in you".
- 4. Paul's reference to "Christ" being "in you" is, therefore, not a basis for confusion, but a basis for clarity.
- a. In 8:3 "Christ" is presented as the effective agent of the Father for the accomplishment of what the Law required in the stead of fallen man.
- b. In 8:2 the Spirit is deliberately called "the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus" because it is absolutely crucial that we always understand the issue of "vicarious" activity by God and never get confused by "Law" (the absence of vicarious activity).
- 1) There are differences in the way "vicarious" is used in respect to the degree of human participation that is involved.
- a) There is the "vicarious atonement" that is "wholly other" in respect to the actions taken. Fallen man had nothing to do with accomplishing the basis for the atonement.
- b) There is the "vicarious life" that is not "wholly other" because it is presented as a result of the union between God and the soul of man under the metaphor of marriage.
- 2) The crucial issue is this: the Spirit of God is a substitute for the spirit of man so that He is always the effective agent of Life and man is not.
- c. Thus, Paul's reference to "Christ in you" is a reference to the Holy Spirit dwelling in you in view of the focus upon "vicarious" activity.
- 1) The issue is the issue of the focus of "faith".
- 2) "Faith" is only really "faith" when man's expectation is of God's exercise of His omnipotence vicariously.
- B. In respect to the exercise of omnipotence, Paul clearly insists that we are not to expect a reversal of the deadness of the body.
- 1. Paul's statement is that the body indeed remains dead.
- 2. Paul's statement, however, needs some clarification.
- a. What is the "deadness" of the body?
- 1) It is not an inability to function: the body has a stewardship of power given to it to function with a gradually diminishing level of vitality.
- 2) It is not an absence of union with God: the Spirit of God actually dwells in our physical bodies so that they have become His temple.
- 3) It must be the body's lack of "position" as an object of the sustaining power of God: it is "dead" because God has written it off under decay until Death has worked its worst upon it.
- b. Why does the body continue in its deadness?
- 1) Paul says the body is dead "because of sin".
- 2) This means that the incremental success of Death over the body has not been reversed because Sin continues to be permitted to exist in it.
- II. Understanding What the Spirit Does.
- A. Paul says "the Spirit is Life".
- B. Paul's words declare that "Life" is available to us.
- 1. There is a deliberate switch in syntax.
- a. "The body is dead" uses a noun and a predicate adjective.
- b. "The Spirit is Life" uses a noun and a predicate nominative.
- 2. The switch deliberately highlights the impact of the Spirit.
- a. The use of predicate nominative, "God is ..." statements is a linguistic device designed for the intensification of focus for greater understanding.
- b. The switch does not effectively mean something different (God is Love actually means God is loving); it simply creates a heavier emphasis so that the focus obtains a greater clarity.
- 3. The impact of the Spirit is defined: Life.
- a. The word "life" is a summary term that refers to the essence of what is actually desirable to persons.
- b. The word "life" is problematical in that most people cannot easily separate "life" as an entity from its mechanisms.
- 4. The mechanism of "Life" is given: righteousness.
- a. This is the most disbelieved claim in all of the Word of God since Genesis 3.
- b. This is the most profoundly true claim in all of the Word of God in terms of mechanisms.
- 1) Christ's death was the expression of "righteousness" to the maximum.
- 2) Christ's death was so that "righteousness" could be granted to those who believe.
- 3) The Spirit's most fundamental task is to produce righteousness through those who believe because "Life" comes from that production as the flower comes from the bud.