by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 11 September 12, 2010 Dayton, Texas
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father:
5 to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I. The Apostle's Greeting.
A. The issues of "grace" and "peace".
1. The significance of "grace" [See notes for Aug. 29(018)].
2. The significance of "peace" [See notes for Sept. 5(020)].
B. The focus upon the action of the "Lord Jesus Christ".
1. In this text, it was the "Lord Jesus Christ" Who did the "giving" of Himself for our sins.
a. This is distinctly different from John 3:16 where the "giver" was "God" as the "Father" Who gave His Son.
b. This is directly in harmony with John 10:18 where Jesus pointedly declares His authority to lay down His life and to take it again in direct contrast to the notion that "someone" might be able to "take His life from Him".
c. This presses the fact that the "Lord Jesus Christ" participated in the "Love" of the Father to the degree involved in "giving Himself". The John 10 text, however, takes a little away from Paul's opening declaration in 1:1 where the attribution of the "raising" of "Jesus Christ" is given to the Father. Clearly, Paul is pressing the issue of the "giving" as being done by the "Lord".
1) The issue of this focus is the question of why the "Lord Jesus Christ" had to "give Himself for our sins".
a) The Romans 3:26 answer is most fundamental: there is an inherent "injustice" to dealing with "sins" in any mitigating manner (from too "light" of an imposition of judgment to outright "forgiveness").
i. In order for even God to deal with sins in any manner other than forthright, equivalent judgment, there has to be some way to do so without compromising Justice, or the one so dealing has become "unjust".
ii. This raises the question of how human beings can "forgive" when they have no way to maintain "justice" while forgiving. How is it that the death of Jesus resolves all of the "injustice" issues?
iii. Jesus' declaration in Matthew 25:40 ("Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.") takes on a lot more significance in this query. At issue is this apparent truth: the integration of Creator/creation is such that no one can separate what is done from its impact upon both creature and Creator. The result is that God's actions are also imputed to His creatures: if Jesus acted for us all, we can all "be forgiven" and "forgive". The caveat being that the Bible restricts Jesus' "action for us all" to those who "believe". Thus, even though there is an integration of Creator/creation, it excludes all who reject it. The "integration" includes, and depends to some degree upon, the acquiescence of all "persons" involved. The essence of "rebellion" is this refusal to acquiesce.
b) Alternatively, the Romans 5:8 answer is also most fundamental: "Love" seeks to spare the "beloved" from any/all injurious consequences. But, what is "Love" for one party in a sinful scenario often turns out to be "Hate" for the other parties in that scenario. Imposing "injustice" upon someone is hardly a "loving" thing to do.
c) This issue is complicated by the reality that "sins against sinners" is one reality that calls for understanding in terms of what constitutes "Justice" and "sins against the Sinless" is altogether another reality that calls for even more understanding. It is one thing for God to "forgive" sins against Himself; it is another thing for God to "forgive" sins against others when they may not be interested in forgiving at all. That the "Lord Jesus Christ" gave Himself for our sins so that we may be forgiven by God is not the same thing as Him giving Himself so that we may escape the Justice due us for our sins against other beings. How does God "forgive" my sins against my fellow human beings on the basis of Christ's "self-giving"? Inwhatsense was David able to legitimately say, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil..." (Psalm 51:4)? Is there no such thing as a "sin" against any other than God? When God told Samuel, "They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me..." (1 Samuel 8:7), had the people actually not rejected Samuel? Clearly, God is pressing the essential nature of the sin of the people to its "root" and is refusing to identify that nature as a "sin" against another human being. In other words, the Bible seems to teach that "sins" are viewed by God in terms of their essential makeup and not in terms of their impact upon those others who are further "up the line" of consequences. The facts seem to be these: all "sins" are essentially rooted in antagonism toward God and even though that antagonism makes a significant impact upon the whole of God's creation, affecting myriads of humans and angels, they are not reckoned to be "against" that creation, but against the Creator. This makes "sinning" huge because it is all against God.
2) Involved in this focus is an apparent desire on Paul's part to push the Galatians in terms of just where their loyalties lie and why. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul tied the death of Christ to its logical end: "you are not your own". There are hosts of people who seem to think that the death of the "Lord" was simply an act that allows them to continue to be "their own" as they "accept Jesus" in order to preserve themselves so that they can go about continuing to seek their own objectives. The point of the death of the "Lord" was to stop this "self-seeking" because it is the root of sin and to alter the "Love" of the redeemed.
3) In point of fact, the "Galatian error" was rooted in the deep-seated appeal of self-aggrandizement that rests in the hearts of all of the children of Adam. The reason that the doctrine of the perverse "gospel" had any appeal at all is to be found here. It is true that there is an element of "insecurity" in the "Gospel" of faith-in-Another that often lies under the willingness to "believe" that salvation can be secured by one's own works (this "doctrine" allows "me" to secure myself), but, the real driver of the willingness to embrace the Galatian Error is the desire to retain one's own "pride of accomplishment".
4) Paul's focus upon the Lord's giving of Himself is designed to confront both the fears of the soul and the pride of the spirit. That the Lord gave Himself is a direct statement of how He views us so that we may relax in our souls (He loves us). That He gave Himself is also a direct statement of how He views our abilities so that we might humble ourselves (He has no confidence in our abilities).