by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1 July 18, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(234)Thesis:How do we relate to the differences between our birth from Adam and our birth from Christ?
Introduction:We have concluded our studies in Romans 5:12-21. We have not plumbed the depths that are there. However, we have seen Paul's argument that we are just as genuinely "delivered by Christ" as we are "enslaved by Adam". One "problem" with the "genuineness" has primarily to do with the fact that we are "in the gestation period" of our "birth" unto Christ (pre-resurrection), while we are, simultaneously, in the post-birth period of our "birth" unto Adam. The net effect of this is that we are "fully functional" as Adam's offspring, but we are only "developmentally functional" as Christ's brethren. A second "problem" with the "genuineness" has primarily to do with the fact that, as Adam's offspring, we are fundamentally "living souls" (1 Corinthians 15:45) who are very much tied to "physical reality" so that we naturally determine "truth" based upon "physical" reality. As "in gestation" in respect to Christ, we are fundamentally recipients of a "life giving spirit" (1 Corinthians 15:46) who can only determine truth based upon "revelational" reality -- the Word of God. Much of the revelational reality is beyond physical reality so that we have to go beyond what we typically think of as "true" in order to get to the "truth". The biggest hurdle, at this point, is the fact that "in Adam" we simply naturally act according to what we received from Adam -- without effort or thought -- but "in Christ" we do not have that "natural, effortless, thoughtless" ability to act. To "act" out of our relationship "in Christ", we must deliberately think and act--oftentimes against our "natural" inclination. So, Paul established the "large boundaries" in Romans 5 -- our "natural" connection to Adam and our "supernatural" connection to Christ. And, in the establishment of those boundaries, he made the claim that the "foundations" of our "connections" are vastly superior in Christ than they are in Adam. Grace is vastly superior to the dominion of sin.
This evening we are going to begin a study of Romans 6. In this chapter -- as well as chapters 7 and 8 -- Paul begins to "flesh out" the issues that are involved in the "large boundaries". He claimed that grace is a powerful king who reigns in righteousness unto eternal life. But, there are problems in that "reign" in the current "gestational period". The superiority of grace does not easily appear in this present setting. Thus, it is mostly denied -- either by action or by word. Thus, beginning in Romans 6 Paul begins to "flesh out" the issues that are bound up in God's gracious actions on our behalf. The first of those issues has to do with the same question, asked twice in 6:1 and 6:15: Shall we continue in sin?
I. The Adamant Answer is "No".
A. In Romans 3:8, Paul unequivocally declared that anyone who uses God's manipulation of evil to make His glory better known as a basis to argue that we may as well "continue in sin" is to be "condemned".
B. In both Romans 6:1 and 6:15, Paul set forth the strongest possible denial that such a conclusion is "valid".
II. The Question Itself.
A. The roots of the question in Paul's prior words.
1. In Paul's development of his argument in Romans 5, he posited an "absolute" headship for both Adam and Christ.
a. There is no "questing for permission" on the part of either "head" in respect to their "production of offspring".
b. There is no possibility of either "head" communicating anything to the offspring but what they are and have.
c. There is an absolute set of consequences for the offspring that are determined by the "heads".
2. In Paul's argument in Romans 5, he insisted that the being, methods, and consequences of the Christ are vastly superior to the being, methods, and consequences of Adam.
3. And, in one sense, Paul's argument in Romans 5 was that, "It does not matter how many, or how grave, are the sins of those who are privileged by the grace of God to belong to Christ."
B. The roots of the question in Paul's audience.
1. He anticipated the question as "naturally" arising in the minds of some who would read his words.
2. Those who would raise the question were of one of two "types".
a. There are those who, resisting Paul's message of "absolute headship", would "naturally" seek a way to discredit him, being completely unaware of the arrogance of their resistance.
b. There are those who, despairing of Paul's insistence upon godliness as the outworking of faith in the Christ, would "naturally" seek to justify their own unwillingness to enter into the fray against their own lusts by saying, in effect, "Grace will triumph no matter how much I sin, so there is no real reason for me to put out any effort."
III. The First Part of the Answer.
A. It is fundamentally irrational to think that those who have died to sin can live in it [Paul's answer].
B. Is it not, however, also irrational to think that those who have died to sin can live in it [If one can not live in sin, having died to it, what is Paul doing addressing the possibility?]?
1. The plain truth is that all, without exception, continue to sin, having believed in God's promise of salvation in Christ (James 3:2).
2. This appears to flatly contradict Paul's claim that "we have died to sin so that we cannot live any longer in it."
C. It drives us in one direction, or another.
1. We either throw up our hands in confusion and angry frustration -- and continue to sin.
2. Or we apply our hearts and minds to appeal to God for clarification -- and learn how to gradually stifle the eruptions of sin in our lives.
D. It rests upon certain "definitions".
1. Either "death" needs a new definition...
a. In the physical realm, "death" means an absolute "cessation of functional capacity" that leads to degenerative chaos and an end to the existence of the "dead thing".
b. In the non-physical realm, "death" has only the sense of a cessation of functional capacity as it relates to certain capacities (one cannot "do" life-based/life-producing things; but, one can continue to do "death-based/death-producing things) and nothing to do with "cessation of existence".
c. In both cases, however, "death" means an end to certain functional abilities.
d. So, "death" doesn't get a "new" definition.
2. Or "I" need a new definition.
a. Is there an "I" which cannot sin?
b. Is there an "I" which can still sin?
E. Paul clearly posits both an "I" which can still sin and an "I" which is dead to sin.
1. In Romans 7 he will develop this distinction.
2. In Romans 6, however, he simply intends to focus upon what has happened to "us" who have come under the headship of Christ.