Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
Thesis: Applying the resurrection power of the Spirit to the deeds of the body is not a "once-for-all" process most of the time.
Introduction: In our study last week we focused upon the fact that Paul warned us that if we are living according to the flesh we are going to die. Then we shifted gears and put our focus upon the promise that if we "put to death the deeds of the body, we will live." Without dispute, the issue of putting to death the deeds of the body is both a preceding, and a necessary, aspect of living. And, without dispute, Paul's concept of methodology is "Spiritual"; man is inherently incapable of putting to death the deeds of his body so that it will not be done except by the Spirit.
That study raised a very serious question: How do we apply the resurrection power of the Spirit to any, and all, "deeds of the body" so that we may live? It is to this question that we are going to turn this evening.
August 28, 2007
- I. Some Preliminary Facts.
- A. The "you are about to die" warning involves a very particular understanding of "Death".
- 1. Paul was not promising that if we can develop a perfect method of putting to death the deeds of the body we will live forever in these bodies without dying: everyone is going to physically die no matter how saintly they become.
- a. Paul does have a doctrine of premature physical death under the severe discipline of God.
- b. But that doctrine only really means that God treats disobedient children with a progressively developing denial of their idols and their objectives [both means and ends].
- 2. Paul was warning us that Death has a multitude of forms and that each "deed of the body" is directly attached to the experience of the particular form of death that arises from that deed.
- a. In no case is "death" pleasant, though often the sinful process is.
- b. In every case the form of "death" matches the degree of evil that exists in the deed.
- 1) This often creates a sense that "O, that wasn't so bad; I'm willing to pay that price in order to enjoy the pleasure I got."
- 2) The danger here is that the "degree of evil" that is attached to the deed is also attached to the attitude behind the deed so that, as the attitude becomes increasingly evil, so does the "form of death" even though the action itself remains the same.
- 3. Paul was also warning us that Death has a lingering impact upon the person even if Life has been reinserted into one's experience.
- a. The lingering "natural" consequences of the forms of Death are often never "over".
- b. The lingering "disciplinary" consequences of the forms of Death are often never removed.
- B. The "you shall live" promise also involves a very particular understanding of "Life".
- 1. Life begins with, and primarily consists of, the reality of relational harmony with God.
- 2. But there is also the fact that the enjoyment of that relational harmony with God is reduced proportionately by the presence of any "form of death".
- a. Everyone who has ever really experienced relational harmony with God knows that it is more pleasant to be in relational harmony with God and be free from illness than it is to be in relational harmony while suffering illness.
- b. The more "forms of death" that are involved in one's experience, the less pleasant is even the relational harmony with God.
- 3. The way to maximize the experience of the pleasure of harmony with God is to "put to death the deeds of the body" so that there is less "death" and more "Life".
- II. The Methodology of Maximizing Life: Putting to Death the Deeds of the Body.
- A . First, there is the requirement of deciding which forms of indulgence are "sin".
- 1. It is not a sin to eat food because the body signals "hunger"; but "gluttony" is a sin.
- 2. It is not a sin to drink because the body signals "thirst"; but drunkenness is a sin.
- 3. It is not a sin to work to make money; but covetousness is idolatry and the desire to be wealthy is covetousness.
- 4. It is not a sin to build friendships; but compromising to keep "friends" is an active evil.
- 5. It is not a sin to receive glory from men; but it is a sin to pursue the glory of men.
- B. Second, there is the requirement of determining to never engage in the identified activity again.
- 1. It is clear that this determination does not have any "power" in the person to execute the decision, but without the determination, the Spirit sits on the sidelines (I have found that there is no provision of power until there is a deliberate determination before God that "By the grace of God, I will never do that again").
- 2. The lack of determination simply means that I do not want to isolate myself from the activity about which I will make no decision to permanently refrain and without that "want to", the Spirit does not enable.
- C. Third, there is the requirement that we "come clean" with God when we do not allow His Spirit to keep us from doing evil.
- 1. We must "confess our sins" so that we may be "cleansed" and restored to the position of "power" in the Spirit.
- 2. There are two problems here.
- a. One problem is the refusal to confess: there are people who are never willing to admit they have been seriously wrong (God never accepts this).
- b. Another problem is the act of "confessing" only because the penalties are more than what is acceptable and "confessing" is the only way to get away from them (this "works" with people, but God does not accept it).