by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 7 Lincolnton, NC March 7, 2006
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
1901 ASV Translation:
5 and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.
I. Paul's "Logic".
A. His claim has multiple elements.
1. First, he claims to be spiritually energized to "exult" in the difficulties he faces.
2. Second, he claims that the energizing arises from the "knowledge" of the processes of "hope".
3. Third, he claims that "pressures" generate "staying power".
4. Fourth, he claims that "staying power" generates "evidence of character".
5. Fifth, he claims that "evidence of character" generates "hope".
6. And, finally, he claims that "hope" does not lead to "shame" because of the love of God...
B. His claim regarding "hope's" impact is that God's love is ours.
1. First, the issue of "hope" not leading to "shame" seems to be a split issue.
a. On the one hand, there is the present reality that one who is operating on the basis of "hope" is not "ashamed" of the actions taken (Romans 1:16).
1) The issue of "shame" is the issue of having been proven "wrong" and being, by that, "guilty of evil-doing".
2) "Shame" is a "spiritual" issue in which a person is humiliated by the proof that the "shameful" behavior has been proven to be unacceptable to true holiness.
a) This is not to say that the person feels any "remorse", but it is to say that the person feels the "disapproval" of others.
b) The "spirit of man" is highly "tuned" to the attitude others take toward him and reacts strongly according to the nature of that attitude.
b. On the other hand, there is the future reality that one who operates on the basis of "hope" will not discover, too late, that he has been operating on an illusory vanity: his "hope" will prove to be legitimate.
1) There are those who "hope" for a good outcome, but their present activity is actually undercutting that "hope".
a) This sad state of affairs arises from "a hope that leads to shame" because the "hope" is ignorantly rooted in false theses (note the condition of those in Matthew 7 who "hoped" for acceptance into God's Kingdom on the basis of their relationally bankrupt "works").
b) What Paul is addressing is the reality that "Truth" exists. All who operate on the basis of "Truth" find it producing exactly what they expected. But, delusion is real, and there are those who "think" they are operating on the basis of "Truth", but are not. The "problem" here is that, though "Truth" exists, "knowing the Truth" is not "automatic" (2 Timothy 3:7).
2) There are those who "hope" for a good outcome and their present pursuits underwrite that "hope".
a) True knowledge is what undergirds this reality.
b) But, the "truth" of the "knowledge" is not the result of "logic", or intellectual prowess: Paul says that "truth" arises out of the presence of the Holy Spirit Who has "shed abroad, in our hearts, the love of God." This, as a most basic fact, puts the issue into the realm of the grace of God: only those who have actually been regenerated by His grace can see the Truth because those who have not been regenerated are immersed in the delusions of "life by the fang" [see the message outline on Luke for Feb. 12, 2006 for insight into the phrase "life by the fang"]. Man is incurably self-focused. He must be "born again" in order to be able to see the reality of the "other-focused" love of God as his own modus operandi. Even as "plain" a fact as the Messianic identity of Jesus is not "grasped" apart from the special work of God (Matthew 16:17) on the behalf of those upon whom He disperses grace.
c) "Logic" does, however, have its place once the basic orientation has been given by the Spirit. Because the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts, we can see logically and truthfully. Logic allows us to build off of the sure foundation. Otherwise, Paul's efforts in writing are wasted. What is the point of the words of God to those who are illogical? Once one "sees" the reality of the most fundamental truth that only "other-focused-love" can sustain any house or kingdom (every kingdom that is founded on "un-love" is doomed as a kingdom divided against itself -- Matthew 12:25), one can "see" more as this "love" motivates the pursuit of knowledge through the application of true reason.
2. Second, there is the question of whether the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts is His love for us, or His love for others through us. The answer is "yes": there can be no separation of God's love for us and our willingness to be His instruments of love for others. Though it is true that Paul's following words in this text focus upon the love of God for us, any separation reveals a lack of "regeneration": no one can receive the love of God without being actually changed by it. Anyone who thinks that the love of God for us can be stopped at that point -- so that it never becomes love for others -- is revealing the fact of an unchanged heart. Man's natural selfishness gloats in "being loved", but refuses to become "loving". There is no regeneration in that state of affairs. When the love of God draws us to Him, it is a drawing that is implicitly understood to mean that we are willing to allow God to change us. There is no reception of love that only alters our final destiny without altering our essential nature too. There is no salvation apart from regeneration. Regeneration is the alteration of our essential nature.