by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1 November 2, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(074)Thesis:Man has no "escape" from the "logic" of his own moral failure.
Introduction:As Paul moves into what we call chapter 2, he opens a second line of offense. It was his objective in 1:18-32 to lay out God's "case" against humanity for rejecting the Life of the Servant God. The only option that remains is the Death option. If there is a "God", and if there is a "Most High God", it should go without saying that "He" will be the final Arbiter of Definition. This fact is inescapable: both Reality and Its Definitions exist. Therefore, "Life" is defined. Also, "Death" is defined. One cannot reject the definitions without embracing the consequent realities. The problem for man is that he wishes to reject the definitions without having to be subject to the consequences. Because he is not the Origin of Reality, he finds himself incapable of satisfying his wish. He knows with all of his experience that there is a "worthiness" of Death in all those who reject Life and promote their rejection by their own actions.
Now, in 2:1-16, Paul takes the issue one step further. This evening we are going to begin a look into this "second line of offense".
I. First, There is the Issue of "Inexcusableness".
A. Paul first broached the issue of man's "inexcusableness" in 1:20.
1. In that place, he founded man's inexcusableness upon his certain knowledge of the contradiction between what he "knows" and what he "decides".
2. In that place, the issue was man's certain knowledge of the reality of God...a reality that God underwrites so that none escape.
B. Now Paul returns to the issue: man continues to be "without excuse".
1. In this second statement, Paul switches from what man knows about the reality of God to what man knows about the reality of the morality of God.
2. In this second statement, Paul also switches from the experiential certainty that man has regarding "truth" to the rational certainty that man has regarding it.
II. Second, There is the Issue of Why Man Wishes to be "Excusable".
A. That men all have an innate desire to be "excused" is clearly observable everywhere.
1. All one has to do to see it in action is to make an accusation. There is always a reaction that is rooted in a desire to "explain" why the accusation is not true, or, if true, acceptable.
2. Even the reactions that fall into the category of a refusal to "explain" are, nonetheless "reactions" designed to deny or squelch the accusation.
B. The question here is "Why?".
1. What is it that drives the attempts to "explain" or "deny" or "squelch"?
2. The suggestion of 1:32 is that man knows two things for sure...
a. He is not powerful enough to alter fundamental reality.
b. He is not stupid enough to resist the charge that he is guilty of rejecting the Life of the Servant God.
3. So the conclusion seems to be that man's attempts to block the accusation are driven by the sure knowledge he has that Death awaits him if he cannot mount a legitimate defense.
III. Third, There is the Issue of Why Man is "Inexcusable".
A. Man's lack of "excuse" rests upon his inescapable rationality.
1. It is true that man's "reasonableness" has been turned on its head by the action of God in turning him over to a non-think mind.
2. But it is also true that even a non-think mind cannot escape the basic law of fundamental consistency, for nothing can be done without it. Where there is no consistency, there is no possibility of learning, for all learning depends upon repetition and repetition depends upon consistency.
B. Man's lack of "excuse" rests upon his rationality in making moral decisions.
1. Every man has an innate sense of "morality" as defined by "ought".
2. Most men have twisted this sense of "ought", but they cannot get away from it.
a. Most men have moved into the camp of "you ought" as opposed to "I ought".
1) "You ought" means I can sit in judgment upon your actions.
2) "You ought" generally also means that my attention has been captured by your behavior and that leaves me inattentive to my own.
3) This leads to screaming "bloody murder" while engaging in "bloody murder". Almost all complaints about the behavior of others are made while the complainer is engaging in behavior that others will complain about.
b. But, the very fact of "ought" in the face of "consistency" means that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. If "you ought", then "I ought also".
C. Man's lack of "excuse" further rests upon the inescapable fact that he knows better than he does. No one lives up to his sense of "ought" when applied to others. Thus, he has no excuse because that sense of "ought" applies to himself also.
1. Paul says the breakdown between what I think "you ought to do" and what "I actually do" brings "condemnation".
a. Condemnation is the sentence of Death.
b. In the court of Justice, what can a man say in the face of reality?
2. Paul does not even hesitate to accuse the "judge" of personal failure in the very same way.
a. The reason he can get away with this is that there are only three variations of selfishness and no one escapes involvement.
b. That someone might be "guiltless" in a specific form, he is not guiltless in the larger category.
IV. The Final Conclusion: No One Escapes Personal Failure in Living Up to His Own Ideals.