by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5 March 3, 2013 Dayton, Texas
6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
1901 ASV Translation:
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.
I. The Ultimate "Rejection".
A. The rejection begins with "circumcision".
1. This is a figure of speech that encircles and includes an entire theological construct.
a. This construct contains multiple "beliefs" that include the nonsensical notion of an actually beneficial relationship with God on the foundations of "Law".
1. No personal relationship survives the destructiveness of "Law".
2. Thus, to begin with God in such a concept is beyond silly.
b. This construct also contains the "belief" that a human being can "live up to" a standard set by an infinite and omni-wise God. To "live up to" such a standard requires capacities that match the requirements of infinity and omni-wisdom.
2. This is a figure of speech that most fundamentally involves a "command/obedience" format coupled to the intense pride of "capacity" and its resultant self-righteousness.
B. The rejection ends with "uncircumcision".
1. This, too, is a comprehensive theological construct reduced to one word.
a. This construct indicates an attitude of an absolute absence of parameters in respect to relationships, but it, too, is nonsensical.
1. Parameters cannot be dismissed ... ever. There are always some things that are going to stand in place and they cannot be dismissed.
2. In the realm of relationships, there are many parameters that must be in play if the persons involved in the relationships are going to "get along" in mutuallybeneficial ways.
b. This construct indicates a "belief" that the individual committed to "uncircumcision" can make relationships work by simply refusing to allow any "rules". But all realms of creation, and beyond, have governing principles because God has a particular "glory" and all of the elements of that "glory" are always involved in all that He does.
2. This construct approaches all relationships as if they have no ultimate meaning in terms of any kind of "blending", or "unity", of persons: every man is an island unto himself as a self-contained, self-absorbed, self-sustaining individual whose contacts with others are less than important; they are merely incidental. This construct fundamentally involves a "total freedom" format.
II. The Ultimate Methodology.
A. Begins with those "in Christ Jesus".
1. Christ Jesus is God's "Solution" to everything wrong in this fallen universe.
2. Everything outside of Christ Jesus is corrupted and destined to ultimate futility.
3. People interested in "Life" are going to have to "come around" to the issues involved in being "in Christ Jesus" and functioning "in Christ Jesus".
B. Paul's methodology first addresses "faith".
1. Biblically, "faith" is, at its core, a "passive" state in which the "believer" expects God to take action.
a. Jesus' "faith as a grain of mustard" posits results that only God can achieve on the basis of a power that only God has (Matthew 17:20). It should, then, be beyond obvious that "faith" is an attitude of the powerless that moves God to act on their behalf.
b. Abraham's greatest "learned lesson" is revealed by Paul in Romans 4:21. In that text he says that Abraham's "fully developed conviction" was this: What God promises is up to Him to accomplish.
c. This does not rule out human action/behavior simply because God is committed to sharing His Life with others. This means He lets them be involved with Him in what He does. He is the Ultimate User of Intermediate Agents for the joy of those agents who cooperate with Him. However, the human behavior/actions that are allowed to be involved are only "workable" because God sustains their impact(s) by His own power, wisdom, and selective permissions.
1) Paul's term for "availeth" in the denial of the effectiveness of circumcision/uncircumcision is a word that addresses "inherent strength" ... the ability that finds its roots as a "built-in" factor (such as muscles, ligaments, bones, etc. that are useful in doing work).
2) His term for "worketh" in the declaration of effectiveness of "faith" is a word that points to the "application of energy" to a task (God's power applied to God's task).
3) His point is not that human bodies cannot be involved in the "strength" or "application of energy"; it is, rather, that those bodies have a direct need to be empowered and directed by His Spirit, not the spirit of those indwelling them as human beings.
d. This does rule out human "roots" for whatever task, or agenda, is in view. Man does not decide what is important, nor does he make the Promise to see it realized.
2. The issue is "the missing ingredient": God's own Spirit.
C. Paul's methodology moves from "faith" to the underlying motivation: Love.
1. The single most crucial issue of any attitude/action is its "reason for being".
2. The biblical word for "reason for being" is Love. It is the word that addresses "motive" for an action; the "intent" to accomplish something. It is the "killer" issue in all "judgment" -- going to why a person took whatever action that is being "judged". God's judgment of the works of men will not simply consider what was done and what it set in motion downline; it will also consider the intentions that drove the action. The reason the New Testament capitalizes upon "the Love of God" is that even God, or, more correctly, God Himself, is Love-driven. He has a value system wherein His intentions and motives are mostfundamentally involved in all that He does and permits others to do. In this sense, "Love" is the most critical element in the expression of the "glory" of God.