Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 8
Thesis: The sons of God call God "Abba" in their times of crisis and conflict.
Introduction: In our study last week we looked into the "problem" of getting off the straight and narrow. We saw that Paul's concept of being "led" by the Spirit of God is one with a very fundamental focus: putting to death the deeds of a body committed to the appetites of the flesh. We also saw that this action -- putting deeds to death -- requires a balance between the twin aspects of Life by the grace of God. Life by grace has a divine aspect to it wherein He makes an exceedingly abundant provision by His own action(s) and a human aspect to it wherein we trust in that provision. Once on this path, no one gets off without first getting one of the two elements of the walk out of balance. It is true that both our flesh and our adversary have tactics of imbalance that have been honed to perfection over time in order to establish and maintain evil deeds unto a corruption of the divine image in the mirror of human flesh, but it is also true that God's Spirit has greater wisdom and more power than the flesh and the devil combined so that we can effectively follow the "leading" and put to death those evil deeds.
This evening we are going to press on into Paul's explanation of how this all works. We are going to see that it is our "T"heology of God as "Father" that governs the entire landscape of this issue.
September 18, 2007
- I. The Foundation.
- A. Obvious to this entire section is this fact: believers have an enormous vested interest in sinning without guilt or consequence.
- 1. As early as 6:1 Paul confronted this vested interest.
- a. This text arises directly upon the heels of "God's exceeding abundant provision" as announced in 5:20-21.
- b. This text has no reason for existing except for man's immediate desire to have all that God has provided in abundance without any real changes for himself.
- 1) Paul would not have immediately jumped on this tendency if it is not real and almost inevitable.
- 2) What kind of a man is it that immediately wants God's provision without being involved with altering actions and attitudes to which he is committed?
- 2. Then 6:15 comes along as if 6:1-14 did not give an adequate answer.
- 3. After those two major questions, there is a host of other statements that imply that men do not easily do either of two things: they do not easily bring their vested interests out of the darkness into the light so they can be easily seen for what they are; nor do they easily put them to death.
- a. 6:21 -- What fruit had ye at that time?
- b. 7:7 -- Is the Law sin? (a variation of the blame game: this is all God's fault).
- c. 7:13 -- Did the good Law become death to me? (continuing on the variation).
- d. 7:23 -- A different law brings me into captivity under the law of sin.
- B. Just as obvious is this fact: God is never going to have any real "sons" unless He does something about these vested interests.
- 1. He gives us His words both of promise and explanation...so that we may yield to His persuasion and kill off the fleshly deeds of the body.
- 2. He dominates our experiences so that, by two contrasting means, He compels our attention to His words of promise and explanation.
- a. On the one hand, He shows us "goodness" (Romans 2:4) as an enticement to trust.
- b. On the other hand, He shows us "severity" (Romans 11:22) as a prod to repentance.
- II. The Declaration.
- A. The "severity" side of the coin is limited: we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.
- 1. This is a "relative" statement as Hebrews 4:1 and 2 Corinthians 5:11 reveal.
- 2. This is a statement defined by the present context.
- a. On the one hand, the context is adamant that we are not to fear the final Fear: there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
- b. On the other hand, the context is equally adamant that we will suffer the consequences of death if we are "led" by the flesh.
- 1) The "problem" with this clear declaration is two-fold...
- a) The "goodness" of God to the sinning often makes it look like the sinning is not causing any serious consequences,
- b) And the "severity" of God upon the sinning is typically at harvest time, not during all of the planting and growing time -- i.e., the delayed reaction.
- 2) But, problem(s) or not, sow it and you will reap it...once it comes to harvest.
- B. The "goodness" side of the coin is also limited: we have received the Spirit of Adoption.
- 1. The "Abba" concept is only addressed three times in the New Testament and in all three of them, life is far from a bed of rose petals.
- a. Mark 14:36 reveals Jesus using "Abba" in what is, perhaps, His greatest extremity: we ought to learn from this that "Abba" does not mean a cushy experience.
- b. Galatians 4:6 sets the "Abba" concept in a context in which "childish" heirs (4:1) have to be disciplined out of their childishness: "Abba" does not mean "sugar daddy".
- c. Our present Romans text is clearly set in the context of being squarely faced with the insistence that we put to death those deeds in which we engage that corrupt the mirror's projection of the Father.
- 2. The "adoption" concept is further explained in 8:23 so that we do not expect too much.
- a. On the one hand, the Spirit is not the full harvest, but the firstfruits, so that groaning (not complaining) is a part of our present experience.
- b. On the other hand, "adoption" is declared to be only fully realized at what Paul calls "the redemption of the body" -- i.e., resurrection/transformation.
- III. The Point: We Have Been Summoned to a Bloody Business.
- A. Our present calling is to be involved in the process of killing off the deeds of our bodies that distort the mirror's image of the Father.
- B. If we refuse our calling, our "Abba" will force the issue.