by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 7 November 1, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(172)Thesis:"Promise" and "Law" are mutually exclusive principles.
Introduction:In our study last week we focused upon Paul's statement that the promise to Abraham that he would be the heir of the world was through the righteousness of faith. Our goal in that study was to clarify the fact that the "land" promise was not given to Abraham on the basis of his past or future performance of some level of morality. The issue of how God can make promises to sinful man, and keep them, is addressed by the doctrine of the "righteousness of faith"; a doctrine in which God simply "imputes" righteousness to the man who believes Him and refuses to "impute" sin to him because "where no Law is, sin is not imputed" (Romans 5:13). Sin may actually be rampant, but where there is no "Law" it is not "imputed". There cannot be any "transgression" where there are no "borders".
For most of us, this is confusing because of both our experience of the reality of "death" and our theological backgrounds. Because of the potential of confusion, we are going to consider Paul's pointed declaration in Romans 4:14 that "Law" and "Promise" are mutually exclusive.
I. The Declaration.
A. Inheritance by "Law" empties "Faith" of any real substance.
1. Any "faith" that will not bring its possessor to a valid experience of the thing believed is void of true substance.
2. Any "faith" in one's performance of any divine imperative brings one's performance under the microscope of uncompromised love.
3. Any microscopic examination of any human performance will reveal a veritable "host" of "driving influences" that cannot stand the test of "uncompromised love".
4. Any failure of the driving influences to pass the test voids the possibility of the "expected" result: faith is emptied.
B. Inheritance by "Law" effectively annuls the impact of "Promise".
1. "Promise" means "to commit one's resources to the accomplishment of a specific result".
2. If a "promise" is conditioned upon the legitimate accomplishment of a divine imperative by a post-Genesis-three human being, God cannot commit His resources to the accomplishment of the specific result unless the human being legitimately accomplished the imperative.
3. Any flaw in the accomplishment disallows the fulfillment of the promise.
II. The Rationale.
A. The purpose of "law" was tobringcondemnation.
1. Paul claims "Law" absolutelyproduces "wrath".
2. Paul's claim follows on the heels of his teaching in Romans 3:19.
3. Paul's claim is a pre-cursor to his further explanation of the purpose of the Law in Romans 5 and Galatians 3 and Romans 7.
a. In 5:20 he wrote that "Law" came into the picture in order to cause the "offence" (a deviation from what is right and good) to "abound".
b. In Galatians 3:19-24 he wrote that "Law" came into the picture to be a compelling trainer to force our turn to Christ by exploding the myth of our righteousness by making transgression beyond dispute.
c. In 7:7 he wrote that the "point" of the Law was to bring awareness of our sinfulness.
B. The only way out of the hopelessness of "law" is to come up with a way to eliminate it.
1. Historically, this is relatively easy: Abraham was given "Promise" 430 years before "Law" came on the scene [Note Galatians 3:17].
2. Post-Sinai, this is not as easy: Christ is presented as the absolute fulfillment of "Law" so that it can be "done away with", but that presentation must be "believed" in the face of a great deal of confusion below the surface.
a. Colossians 2:13-15 says Christ blotted it out.
b. Ephesians 2:15 says Christ abolished it.
C. There is no condemnation where there is no law and there is no hope where law sits.