Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
Thesis: To live, one must put to death the established practices of the flesh.
Introduction: Last week we looked at Paul's introduction of a sense of "obligation" into the issues regarding the question of how the Holy Spirit produces the kind of motivation in us to allow Him to produce the character of Christ in us and the actions of Christ through us. We saw that this sense of obligation rests fundamentally upon the twin realities of Life and Death. There is no motivation where there is no desire. If one does not care if he exists in the sphere of Death, or if he does not desire to exist in the sphere of Life, there will be no production of motivation by the Spirit.
One of the issues that this "sense of obligation" raises is the question of how it relates to the grace of God. Because "grace" has been significantly twisted from its reality by those who have dominated the theological scene for centuries, many have come to the conclusion that grace is merely a divine "attitude" of extraordinary tolerance wherein there is no accountability. Accountability has been assigned to the domain of "Law" and dismissed. The gracious God has been turned into a benign grandfather who dotes on his grandchildren regardless of whether they are developing into godly children or not.
This evening we are going to look into Paul's very clear statement of what it takes to exist in the sphere of Life. Without any lack of clarity, at least in terms of the larger picture, Paul says that we must put to death the deeds of the body if we wish to live.
August 21, 2007
- I. Paul's Absolute Insistence That We Must Block the Expression of the Flesh.
- A. The insistence.
- 1. There is no point to the insertion of a "sense of obligation" if there is no "obligation".
- 2. There is no point to the declaration that if we live according to the flesh we are about to die if, in fact, we are going to live no matter what.
- 3. There is nothing to the statement that if I put the deeds of the body to death I will live if, in fact, I can live anyway.
- B. Its relationship to grace.
- 1. The letter that Paul wrote to the Galatians is the New Testament expansion upon the conflict between Law and Grace.
- 2. In that letter Paul insisted that it was a delusion to think that one can live just any old way and end up experiencing Life.
- 3. Paul's doctrine of Grace is not (and never has been) the elimination of necessity; it has always been a presentation of a workable method for actually meeting the necessity.
- a. Instead of the definition of "grace" being a "benign attitude of careless indulgence", "grace" has always been "God's active provision of the necessity for those who will depend upon Him."
- b. Instead of "faith" being "a manipulative claim to having pushed the right button", it has always been "a relational humility where the believer depends upon the Promiser to keep His word."
- II. Paul's Just-as-Absolute Insistence that We Must Apply the Power of the Spirit to the Issue.
- A. Paul prejudiced his insistence by his two-fold-in-one-sentence description of the Spirit as the Effective Agent of Resurrection.
- 1. In Philippians 3:10 Paul wrote of his intense desire to know "the power of His resurrection".
- 2. In Ephesians 1:15-21 Paul prayed that his readers would have the eyes of their hearts enlightened so that they could know the "exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working ... which he wrought ... when he raised him from the dead...".
- B. Paul also prejudiced his insistence by telling us the specific area to which the Spirit "applies" His power.
- 1. In the positive statement, Romans 8:4 says that the Spirit produces the fulfillment of the "ordinance of the Law" in us.
- a. This "ordinance" is nothing more, nor less, than Jesus' declaration that the whole Law was contained in the reality of a supreme love for God and a self-sacrificing love for one's neighbor.
- b. When believers walk by the Spirit these two characteristics are revealed.
- 2. In the negative statement, Romans 8:13 says that the Spirit blocks the expression of the deeds of the body.
- a. What are the deeds of the body?
- b. The deeds of the body are actions taken under the belief that there is "Life" in the satisfaction of the flesh.
- III. The Question of Methodology: How Do We Apply the Spirit to the Deeds?
- A. It is, first, a matter of "faith".
- 1. On the one hand, this means what we called "faith" in I.B.3.b. above.
- 2. On the other hand, this means knowing what the Promiser promised.
- a. On the one hand, the promise is of "life by the Spirit" as an immediate (no intervening agent) production.
- b. On the other hand, the promise is of "life by the Spirit" as a long-term development of habitual faith (2 Peter 1:2-7) where a certain progression is absolutely involved.
- B. It is, second, a matter of a biblically revealed process.