by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 7 August 17, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(051)Thesis:God's response to man's rebellion was to subject him to the "slave-turned-master".
Introduction:In our study last week we saw that Paul declared man's turn from the glory of the incorruptible God in favor of the "glory" of corruptible creatures, while at the same time demanding that he be seen as "wise". We considered man's profession of wisdom to be an expression of his innate fears regarding where his life was headed. This evening we are going to look into God's response to him. Turn to Proverbs 30:21-23 for an introductory comment. There is something terrifying about being subjected to a former slave.
I. God's Reaction to Man's Rebellion.
A. The text tells us that God "gave them over to impurity".
1. The meaning of "gave them over" is "put them under the dominion of...".
a. The issue here is that man is, by creation, a servant, not a master.
b. God's action had not to do with altering man's essential nature, but to do with how that nature would be directed.
c. God subjected man to a different "master".
2. The identity of the new "master" is given: Impurity.
a. What is Impurity?
1) It is the term used to identify demons as "unclean spirits".
2) It is a physical realm idea applied to the realm of relationship.
a) Uncleanness (impurity) in the Old Testament was any physical condition that fostered the spread and power of infection.
b) Uncleanness in the Old Testament developed into a concept of any development (attitude or action) that generated a disintegration of relationships.
c) The focus in the Old Testament upon physical cleanliness was developed so that it could serve as the illustration of how "spirits" could get to be "at odds with one another"...chasing the wrong objective, or chasing the right objective the wrong way.
3) The graphic visual of maggots eating away at a dead body was one of the powerful illustrations of what it meant to be "unclean". Leprosy was another such illustration.
b. What is "Impurity" as a "master"?
1) The idea is that the person has become the "servant" of the power of impurity's drive toward complete corruption (see Romans 6:19).
2) This means that the person has completely lost whatever control he may have had over how he was going to act so that his actions were going to lead inexorably to the decay of corruption...particularly in the area of relationships; first, with God, and then with all other "persons".
B. The text tells us that the realm of God's "delivering up" is the realm of the powerful values of the heart.
1. This "doubles up" the significance of man's bondage to Impurity.
a. Impurity's power is its ability to cause the healthy to disintegrate.
b. The heart's power is its absolute dominion over man's choices...whatever the heart "wants" man chases.
c. God's reaction was to subject man to a heart that has been completely corrupted by impurity...leaving man with absolutely no escape apart from a "change of heart" by God Himself.
2. It is significant that God did not merely "deliver man up to impurity in the thoughts of his mind" -- the realm of "faith" (a realm that can be altered by persuasion).
C. The text tells us that the end result of God's reaction was the installation of man's body as his "lord".
1. As "impurity" gains its significance from the physical realm illustrations of the corruption of decay, the problem of man's dishonoring of his body gains its significance from the physical realm illustrations of physical appetites run amok.
2. What does it mean to "dishonor" the body?
a. At root, it means to make the body an object of hatred.
b. But, as it worked out, it means to install the body in a position in which its total incompetence is openly displayed to all who observe.
c. This, boiled down, means that the body was installed as "lord" over the individual at the behest of "Impurity's" values that had been entrenched in the heart.
1) The body was designed to be the servant of the inner spirit as the inner spirit was designed to be the servant of (God) the Spirit.
2) When the body is exalted to the position of the lord of the inner spirit, it is exposed as totally incompetent and is, thus, dishonored...just as man, the servant, is dishonored when he is put in the place of God, the Lord, and reveals his total incompetence.
3. What is the connection between man's turn to "corruption" and God's reaction?
a. It is simply God actually delivering man over to his preferences so that he is now imprisoned by them.
b. God subjected man to his "choices" as a "servant to God" so that he became the servant of the slave...the earth trembles under that scenario.