by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 January 8, 2017 Humble, Texas (Download Audio)
(061)Thesis: The "bottom line" of our freedom consists of "God in Action".
Introduction: In our study last week we looked at the new "reality" that exists for those who believe: The Spirit of the Living God has become the operative person. Almost everywhere we turn these days in search of a real and practical method of incipient sanctification, we hear people telling us to "do" this or that. This, whether intentionally or not, invariably turns our attention to ourselves and our responsibilities. And, by this turning, we are put back into bondage.
In our study this evening we are going to see that it is completely wrong-headed to turn our attention to ourselves because the truth turns our attention to the "God is in Action" thesis. We are free from condemnation because God, the Spirit, as the Active Actor, has placed us into Christ. We are also free from The Law of The Sin and The Death because this Active Actor is a real and effective Worker. The main reasons we do not readily recognize this are three: first, we cling to our legalism; second, we see only what is visible to our eyes in terms of "who takes this action?"; and third, the Spirit is notably a very much "behind the scenes" Active Actor Who compels us to deliberately opt into the "faith in the promises of God" methodology and out of the "faith in what I see and in who I am" methodology.
I. Paul's Twin Indisputables.
A. The "Law" has a total inability.
1. Here Paul reverts back to his use of "Law" as he used it in chapter seven.
a) It is most fundamentally a revelatory agent.
b) The deceitful use of it as a regulatory agent is aided and abetted by the automatic awareness that 'revelation' tends to set 'necessity' before our eyes [if God is ... we must also be ...].
2. The inability of "Law" consists in its mis-match with "flesh" (the Law is spiritual but I am of flesh: 7:14).
a) This "inability" is total: Paul's use of "adunatos" is a use of the most potent form of power, strength, ability, etc.
b) This "inability" is abject: Paul has already belabored this fact unto "wretchedness" (7:24).
3. The particular "weakness" of the "flesh" is its foundational commitment to several of the goals of what John called "the boastfulness of functional capacity" (1 John 2:16) [my literal translation].
a) At the very root is the issue of self-exaltation; the method of the "flesh" to achieve status over others in a non-servant-kingdom.
b) Also, just above this root is the issue of self-preservation; the intention of the "flesh" to survive by being in control in a non-life-through-death reality.
c) Finally, there is the "deceived flesh" which takes "Law" as the method of achievement in a non-you-sow-it-you-reap-it reality.
B. But God took, and takes, the effective action.
1. He sent His Own Son.
a) There is nothing here of human initiative or capacity except Mary's passive contribution of her egg cell with its human DNA in place; a contribution that she neither initiated, nor in which was she an active participant.
b) There is everything here of significant, exclusive, divine input; Jesus is God's "own" Son.
c) The point is the complete assumption by God of the human "responsibility" so that the human gains from the work of The God without having any basis for maintaining any of the objectives and methods of "the flesh".
2. He sent Him "in the likeness of sinful flesh" and for sin.
a) The "likeness" issue is "likeness" in the sense of Rom 1:23; a "visual similarity without the essence similarity" mentioned in Romans 5:14.
1) Jesus was not "in the likeness" of the essence of "sinful flesh".
2) His likeness was a general similarity that had its roots in the reality that all "flesh" has: namely, the absence of any "infinity" of attributes that would allow it to function as a "god" and, thus, be able to effectively function under "Law".
b) The "for sin" phrase means that God's sending was to address the issue of man's bondage to "The Sin" in the face of God's love, compassion, mercy, and grace.
1) God's intent was to set some human beings "free" from "The Sin and The Death".
2) The only way to do that was to address the claims of Divine Justice against "sin".
3. This Son was completely effective in His provision of deliverance.
a) He brought The Sin to "condemnation"; both a ruling and an imposition of destruction.
1) He proved that being "flesh" was not, of itself, the problem.
2) He demonstrated that the problem was essentially a failure of faith at the point of the lack of infinity in "the flesh".