by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 7 January 22, 2012 Dayton, Texas
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
1901 ASV Translation:
12 and the law is not of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
I. Paul's Linkage of the Gospel to the Methodology of God's Dealings With Abraham [See notes for Dec. 4, 2011(135)].
II. Paul's Focus Upon Abraham's "Believing" [See notes for Dec. 11, 2011(137)].
III. Paul's Interpretation of God's "Accounting" (KJV word, NASB uses "reckoned") [See Notes for Dec. 18, 2011(139)].
IV. Paul's Adamant Application of Genesis 15:6 to the Gospel [See notes for Jan. 1, 2012(141)].
V. Paul's Logic Regarding "the Curse".
A. Being "of the works of the Law" puts a person "under a curse" [See notes for Jan. 8, 2012(143)].
B. The biblical record simply declares that "the righteous by faith shall live" [See notes for Jan. 15, 2012(145)].
C. The antithesis involved in Law and Faith.
1. Paul's claim is "the law is not of faith".
a. In what sense is the law not "of faith".
1) Not in the sense that the dynamics of "believing" and "doing" are "different".
a) The biblical concept of "faith" leading to "works" is simply that if one "believes" a given truth, there will be a commensurate response of behavior in the activities of the "believer". Thus, if one believes a statement contained in the Law, that "belief" will produce a commensurate reaction called "obedience".
b) The "imperatives" (i.e., the principles that govern the mechanisms) of law and faith both rest heavily upon the one who is subjected to them.
2) Primarily in the sense that "law" and "faith" are fundamentally different "approaches" to the desired end.
a) "Obedience to law" has a "desired end" (no one "obeys" for nothing).
i. The approach to the desired end under "law" is what Paul calls "working so that the outcome is obligated" (Romans 4:4).
ii. At issue is the reality that the one seeking the "outcome" has determined to pursue a method whereby that outcome is "due" him/her.
iii. Heavily invested in this approach is a potent desire to "get credit" for performing up to a standard whereby the outcome is "due" (Paul is constant in his refusal to allow such "boasting" -- i.e., "seeking credit" -- as if it is a major driver for the choice to apply this particular approach: Romans 3:27; 4:2; Ephesians 2:8-9).
b) "Faith" also has a "desired end" (everyone who believes, does so in the light of hope).
i. The approach to the desired end under "faith" is depending upon another who has promised that end.
ii. There is no "debt" incurred by the one depending.
iii. There is no personal "credit-seeking" involved in the one depending.
c) The universal "desired end": Life.
i. Paul's quote from Leviticus 18:5 actually says "shall live". This is the desired end.
ii. At the root of "living" is only one issue: joy.
iii. The "problem" of this desired end is that it is totally outside of the capacities of those seeking it. "Joy" is independent of "pleasure/pain", "security/danger", and "humiliation/exaltation": in other words, one can be joyful in the face of pain, danger, and humiliation; and one can be joyless in the face of pleasure, security, and exaltation. Thus, the biblical concept of "joy" being the consequence of being in the "accepting" presence of the God in whose presence is fullness of joy is a concept of divine "sharing". He shares "joy" with those accepted in His presence.
iii. And, as Paul has noted, there are only two methods of seeking such joy: seeking to create situations of obligation, or believing. Trying to get God to "share" His "joy" is what really drives all of men's pursuits. Even their hostility toward Him is most likely derived from their frustration with His refusal to share the joy. This makes the bottom line one reality: the actual basis for His acceptance of an individual. Can they "obligate" Him, or must they simply "believe" Him?
3) "Law" and "Faith" part company on the basis of the exact mechanism that brings about fulfillment. "Law" depends upon "Justice" and "Faith" depends upon the "Integrity" of the one who makes the promise.
a) It is critical to understand "promise" at this point. It is not a reciprocity agreement; it is a unilateral proclamation by the one making the promise. Any "promise" that makes a "deal" (if you do this, I will do that) is not a promise; it is a "legal" premise that depends upon Justice. [The long-running debate over whether God's covenant with Abraham is conditional or unconditional is really all about men desiring to turn covenant benefits into legal obligations. Making the covenant conditional does that.]
b) The most outstanding reality about "promise" is that it has nothing compelling it in the recipient; it has only to do with the desire of the one making it.
c) Thus, "faith" is a positive yielding to the desire of the one making the promise and is an entering into a "relationship of desire" in which the two are one at the level of what is "desired" (this is the "love" issue and is the reason "love" is greater than "faith").
d) The Law, on the other hand, is all about the one seeking the "desired end" doing what Justice requires for that desired end. Paul's categorical statement is "the man that doeth them [the precepts of Law] shall live by them". In other words, "Life" comes as a consequence of the man's actions -- if those actions actually measure up to the critical investigation of "Justice" (which, for fallen man, can never happen).
D. Christ's redemption involved becoming "the curse for us".