by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5 April 3, 2011 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(070)Thesis:The aspects of "bondage" involve the most fundamental issues of one's "love" and "faith".
Introduction:In our last study I attempted to show that Christian "liberty" is fundamentally freedom from any and all applications of the "Justice" of God and the ability to draw on the power of the Spirit of God to pursue the agenda which that Spirit puts into our hearts. Clearly, the primary mechanism of this "liberty" is "faith". It is possible to be actually free from the Justice of God and still operate as if one is subject to it -- because of unbelief. Likewise, it is possible to have access to the power of the Spirit and still operate as if everything really depends upon us -- because of unbelief. And, just as clearly, it is a most profound perversion of "freedom" to attempt to "believe" while being fundamentally committed to one's own perverse "love". Thus, freedom from the Law and having access to the power of the Spirit are Love/Faith issues that the Gospel, in its Promise of eternal life by means of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, addresses directly.
Our study this evening is going to be an expansion of Paul's focus upon our "liberty" by means of a careful consideration of its opposite. Paul says that the false brethren desire to spy out our liberty so that they may bring us back into bondage. So, what is bondage?
I. The Main Difficulty for Understanding.
A. The words used to describe "bondage" are the same words that define the primary element of "liberty".
1. All of the word group associated with "bondage" focus upon the issue of being a "slave".
2. But the New Testament is not at all bashful about summoning all believers into a "slave" relationship with God.
a. One of the favorite self-descriptive terms used by the authors of the New Testament is that of a "slave".
b. Paul, in his description of what happens at conversion, says that we were once "slaves of sin" who became "slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6).
3. Thus, the question is: How can "bondage" be so bad if it is "bondage" to which we have been called?
B. Our understanding of the words (or, perhaps, our misunderstanding) cause our confusion.
1. Because the original temptation was rooted in the suggestion that we could become "as Elohim", we must understand that that temptation was fundamentally a "lie".
a. Humanity was not created with the capacity to "execute power" apart from the active input of the Ultimate Executor of Power in terms of Love, Wisdom, and actual Power.
b. Deity does not even have the capacity to "execute power" as a "free" exercise of volitional capacity.
1) The temptation put forth a set of assumptions about "Elohim" that is not true.
a) That "power" is an isolated quality that functions in a vacuum (the temptation was designed to draw men into the vacuum of godlessness so that they would attempt to be "powerful" in isolation) [God's execution of power is, like all of His attributes, circumscribed by all of those other attributes].
b) That the exercise of "power" is an elevated and desirable activity (the temptation was designed to draw men into the delusion that the essence of their lives derives from the connection between action and value) [Not even God's "value" as a "being" is rooted in what He does].
c) That the exercise of "power" is rooted in "volitional freedom" (the temptation was designed to draw men into the confusion of "free will") [Not even God's ability to make choices and take action is "free"].
2) The essence of God's self-revelation is that His execution of power is absolutely tied to His "Love" and "Wisdom" wherein nothing is done without an absolute perception of what is trulyvaluable and what is actuallyeffective.
2. Because we have been deluded into the exaltation of "will" over "love" and "faith", we get extremely disoriented by the notion that "being the slave of another" is a good thing.
a. It is, actually, our antipathy for such "slavery" that gives Paul's summons to freedom its appeal.
b. It is, actually, our antipathy for such "slavery" that gives Paul's warning about being put into "bondage" its strength.
II. The Primary Solution to Our Dilemma: Understanding "Bondage" When It is a Bad Thing.
A. The very essence of "bad bondage".
1. The essence involves "internal conflict".
a. The issue of "internal" is critical because no one can actually be driven by "external" realities.
1) An "external" reality can never generate actual choices or actions.
2) The most an "external" reality can do is magnify an internal conflict.
b. The issue of "conflict" is critical because no one can be driven to "bondage" when that one is "at peace" within.
2. The essence involves the "fears" that arise solely because of the false loves that drive the internal conflict and the false beliefs that allow such false loves to exist.
3. The essence involves the transition of the "internal conflict" to an "external conflict" wherein God is the external opponent.
a. In this transition, it is critical that God be seen as "the bad guy".
b. In this transition, it is critical that God be seen as a genuine "threat" to the primary values held within.
B. The elements of a real solution.
1. God has shown that a fundamental element of the real solution is the elimination of Himself as "threat".
a. The New Testament doctrine that the "Law" (Justice as Threat) has been absolutely removed by the vicarious death of Jesus means that "there is no Law" and, thus, there can be no violation of it that can bring wrath (Romans 4:15).
b. The New Testament doctrine of the primacy of Love as the effective energizer of Faith (Galatians 5:6) means that nothing is either valuable or effective that is not Love-driven so that God puts absolutely no value upon anything done that is outside the boundaries of genuine Love (this means He makes no "demands" of His "slaves"; He simply accepts what they do because of their love for Him: Romans 13:8 and Galatians 5:14).
2. God has shown that another of the fundamental elements of the real solution is the "faith" that those exercise whose hearts have been wedded to His.
a. None of the "solutions" in a relational universe work apart from actual "belief" in the realities of God's actions.
1) He has eliminated Himself as "threat".
2) He has made the wedding of hearts actually achievable.
3) But He remains both "threat" and "of a separate heart" to those who do not trust Him.
b. When a human being begins to trust what God declares is actually true, that human being begins to seek His provision of a "blended heart" and of an "enlightened mind".
1) Seeking Love and Faith is both the outcome of the dawning of Love and Faith and the catalyst for a greater participation in the dawn.