by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 10 September 7, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(057)Thesis:God's final reaction was to 'lock man into' a mental reality of incompetence.
Introduction:In our studies we have noted Paul's extended treatment of God's reaction to man's rebellion. It is important to understand the constant emphasis on Paul's part that God reacted. There is no escape from this "reaction" thesis in Romans 1:18-32. Clearly, Paul is putting the blame on man. And, it is just as clear that, ever since that first act of rebellion, man has been seeking to put the blame on God. Man invariably says something to this effect: "Well, God knew that things were going to turn out this way, so He should have done something to keep it from happening". Men say, in effect, "If things are not the way God wants them to be, He is supposed to have the power to do anything He chooses, so who's fault is it that things are the way they are?" [isn't the Creator responsible for His creation?]; and, "If things are the way God wants them to be, why is He so upset with me?" [if men do His 'will' why does He find fault?]. This "blame shifting" is a part of why the study this evening is as important as it is. The final divine response, as Paul records it, was to turn men over to their non-think mentality. This is a manifestation of God's wrath from heaven in that it is fatal. Without exception, every person who remains enslaved to the non-think mentality will perish. So, this evening we are going to look into this final, fatal reaction by God.
I. To What Did God React?
A. Paul says that God reacted to man's deliberate disapproval of Him.
1. The word Paul uses to explain both man's action and God's reaction involves a deliberate process.
a. There is a word-play in the verse that continues the thesis that God has responded to men according to the action they have taken.
b. The word involved is used enough times in the Bible to reveal that it signifies a process that includes...
1) A deliberative examination with 'standards' in place.
a) The first standard is the love standard: this is valuable to me.
b) The second standard is the faith standard: will the person/thing/process under scrutiny bring me into possession of that valuable thing?
2) A definitive decision regarding the efficiency of the person/thing/process in producing the desired objective.
2. The decision of man was to "disapprove" God as the efficient means to his end.
a. Man was not at fault for treating God as a means to an end.
1) God has no problem with man's "end".
2) God has a huge problem with man's "methods".
b. Man was at fault for his non-think mentality.
1) In the very nature of the case, man can only 'evaluate God' after he puts God's wisdom into question.
a) This is non-think because every experience of man testifies to the inadequacy of the created in judging the creator [there is no man who can really believe in his 'wisdom' since it springs from partial knowledge].
b) This is non-think because every experience of the man who made this fateful decision testified to the 'goodness' of the wisdom-Giver.
2) It was the nature of the case that man was looking into the question of the efficient means of "life" and he had gotten all of his current experience of life from the Life-Giver.
a) This is non-think because it dismisses "life" as being from the Life-Giver.
b) This is non-think because it dismisses all of the input of experience as the result of the Life-Giver in favor of no experience at all.
B. Paul says that God reacted to man's substitution of mechanical manipulation for personal relationship.
1. Man's decision to 'disapprove God' was specifically at the methodological level [God had no problem with this].
2. Man's decision at the methodological level was to substitute "knowledge unto manipulation" [the knowledge of good and evil was seen as desirable to make it possible for man to protect himself] for "knowledge unto relationship" [the words of God, believed, were sufficient protection].
a. Paul's words for "to acknowledge" literally mean "to hold on to the relationship" [ecein en epignwsei].
b. This means that Paul is faulting man for substituting an impersonal method for the inter-personal method [witness the illustration of the industrial revolution (machine replaces man) in its destruction of relationships].
c. At its roots, this is a substitution of the creation for the Creator [the idolatry of 1:23].
II. How Did God React?
A. God "turned men over to" their non-think mentality.
1. This is a final statement of total bondage.
a. In the first statement, God turned man over to "uncleanness" [He tossed him into the cess pool of death's processes].
b. In the second statement, God turned man over to "compulsions that dishonor" [the cess pool was infected with deceptions about what would bring man to status (honor)].
c. In this third statement, God turned man over to "a non-think mind" [the cess pool's deceptions were beyond man's, now-corrupted, ability to reason].
2. This is a statement of man's absolute hopelessness in terms of his own abilities to procure his objective: life.
a. Life is, under unreasonableness, an impossible goal.
b. Man is, under this judgment, without remedy.
B. God "turned man over to" compulsive behaviors that are the processes of death.
1. "Improper" actions are actions that cannot deliver on the hope of life.
2. "Improper" actions are actions that actually guarantee death in a cause and effect universe.
a. God had warned: "if you eat...you will die".
b. God delivered on His 'truth': He turned men over to death.