by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 February 8, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(098)Thesis:"Resting" is a huge issue that requires a significant alteration of both heart and mind.
Introduction:In our last study, we focused upon those "calling themselves 'Jews' ". We noted that Paul addresses this issue because it is the first line of "defense" against the accusations of either a guilty conscience or an adversary. In 2:15 Paul had said that men reacted to the judgments of their consciences with either "accusation" or "excusation". The typical reaction of the self-proclaimed "Jew" was to "excuse" himself by whatever means possible. The first "excuse" focused upon the lack of liability because "I am a Jew".
This evening we are going to look into the second line of defense. It is called by Paul "resting upon the Law". It is no small thing to find "rest" on the basis of "Law". In order to be able to do that, one must almost completely blind himself to himself. So, we are going to think our way through this issue of "resting upon the Law".
I. What Does It Mean to "Rest"?
A. In the big picture, "resting" addresses the "soul".
1. It is, obviously, a concept that depends upon a physical reality: rest is, physically, the issue of a body that is being allowed to "not do work" because of a previous demand to "do work" that used up some of the stores of physical energy.
2. It is, just as obviously, not a physical concept in this context because "bodies" do not "rest" by lying down on the "Law".
3. Thus, when Paul grabbed hold of the physical concept of "resting" (which would have been a "body" issue) and transferred it into another realm, he had to have had a category of "rest" in mind that was beyond "physical".
4. Since the Jews had three areas of theological interest in shoring up their confidence in view of the eternal realities of acceptance/rejection by God, we conclude that the issue Paul had in mind with "resting" was in the area of the soul.
a. The Jews felt comfortable at the physical level in tracing their lineage back to Abraham.
b. They felt comfortable at the emotional level by seeing their performance of the dictates of the Law as "adequate".
c. They felt comfortable at the spiritual level by seeing Yahweh as the True God; so, they "boasted" in God.
B. In the limited picture of this context, "resting" addresses the attitude one takes toward the future in light of one's "qualifications" as they have developed from the past and the present.
1. The greatest need of the "soul" is the need for "rest" in light of "Coming Attractions".
a. In the old movie theaters, "Coming Attractions" were movies that were to be shown in the week(s) ahead -- the events at the theater that were put forward to entice the movie-goer to return to spend more money at the theater.
b. In Romans 2, the "Coming Attraction" was a "horror movie" -- the Day of Wrath when the Great God would cast millions of people into the burning Lake of Fire because He found fault with their performance of the required morality.
c. The "soul", in the light of the coming Judgment, needs a way to "rest" if a person is to experience "life" in any real sense.
2. According to our text, Paul says that those self-proclaimed "Jews", who have mentally excused themselves from being involved in that day by reason of their link to Abraham by genealogy, are "resting" upon the Law.
a. This means that they are doing two things...
1) They are taking "Law" as a legitimate revelation of "morality" (in view of the various world-views "out there" as to what is "right").
2) They are taking their performance of that Law's requirements to be a sufficient performance to exempt themselves from being cast into the fiery lake of the second death.
b. This means that they have done one huge thing...they have divorced their actual overt behavior from their internal motivations.
1) As a Pharisee, Paul was able to see himself as "blameless" as to the Law [Note Philippians 3:6].
2) But, as a believer, Paul knew that he was not "blameless" once the motives came into play [Note Romans 7:7].
3) Thus developed an entire theology of externalism that focused upon straining at gnats and swallowing camels.
4) Thus also Jesus' approach to teaching "Law" by reaching into the inner region of the heart and calling it "adultery" to simply "look and lust".
c. Since Paul's doctrine of the "Coming Attraction" was that God was going to reach into the secret areas of man's motivations, he knew that there was no such reality as "resting upon Law".
3. Conclusion: the only "rest" one can find in his soul in relation to "Law" is the "rest" of almost complete self-delusion.
a. That the "Jews" were "resting" is not debated.
b. That their "rest" was going to prove to be founded upon delusion was Paul's entire argument.
II. What Does It Mean to be Guilty of a Self-description That Includes "Resting upon Law"?
A. It means that a kind of hardness has developed that makes it impossible for a person to "see" his own real motives.
B. It means that a kind of self-righteousness has developed that makes self-excusing a knee-jerk process.
1. Even if a "Jew" felt guilty about something, he could console himself by taking the required sacrifice up to the Temple and find himself absolved.
2. Then he could be "proud" of himself for accepting his guilt and performing the required "sacrifice".
3. Then his hardness would grow even greater.
C. And it means that the bottom line is always going to be: I did what was required of me.
1. This will inevitably lead to "boasting".
2. This will inevitably quiet the conscience and allow the soul to "rest".