by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1 September 26, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(254)Thesis:Our experience of God's reality is directly tied to the problematical issue of "faith".
Introduction:As we have been considering Paul's teaching about how to be disentangled from the bondage to sin, we have noted that the "big" issue is that one to which we referred last week as "the compelling unity". We are entangled in sin by the compelling unity that we have with Adam, and we are disentangled from sin by the compelling unity that we have with Christ. Paul's argument has been that Christ is not the only one Who died to sin. All those who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God have been "baptized" into Christ to the degree that they also died to sin.
In our study last week we re-considered the impact that "justification" makes to this issue. Paul had said, at the end of 6:6 that we should henceforth not serve sin because ("for") "he that is dead is justified from the sin" (6:7). Paul brought the justification issue into the mix because of the impact it has upon the most crucial issue involved in "sinning": the issue of "love for another". We said last week that it is at the point of "love" that we cease from sin. And we said that it is at the point of understanding our "justification from sin" that we begin to enter into "love". So, it is in the relational realm of reality that "justification" (God's willingness to simply put our sins beyond His judicial considerations) sponsors the "love" that denies potency to temptation and smothers any bondage that we might feel in respect to sin.
Now, this evening we are actually going to begin another paragraph -- verses 8-10 -- as we continue to examine Paul's teaching. In this paragraph, we are introduced to another of the crucial issues involved in "sinning": the issue of "faith". Verse eight begins with the assumption that we have now managed to get a grip on the reality of our death with Christ. Then it immediately introduces the next most potent matter: "we believe...". It is this issue to which we will turn our attention this evening.
I. Between the Pure States of Competing Realities.
A. When a person is "in Adam", he is dead to God, but he lives within the influences of God's redemptive actions within His creation.
B. When a person is "in Christ", he is alive to God, but he lives within the consequences of God's active wrath against sin within His creation.
C. Thus, no one lives in a "pure state" wherein all of the "competition" has been squashed.
D. Thus, everyone has to wrestle with the competitions that exist in two major realms: love (what is valuable) and faith (what is true).
E. Thus it is that the "wrestling" is going to be most difficult at the level of love and most complicated at the level of faith.
II. The Complications of Faith.
A. First, Paul seems to be very clear that our freedom from bondage is going to be directly tied to what we believe.
1. Where there is this thing called "faith", there is freedom.
2. Where there is an absence of this thing called "faith", there is bondage.
B. Second, though there are certainties in some issues of "faith", there are some uncertainties also.
1. In the area of "certainties"...
a. Jesus pointedly said, "...verily I say unto you, 'If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, "Remove hence to yonder place"; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you'." (Matthew 17:20).
1) This declaration clearly establishes an unbreakable link between what a person believes and what God will do.
2) Though the Bible admits to "degrees" to faith, it never admits that one must come up to a specific "higher degree" in order for this unbreakable link to exist.
a) Jesus did speak of "great faith" and "little faith".
b) But Jesus never refrained from fulfilling the expectation of the "believer" just because the "faith" wasn't "big enough".
c) Biblically, "degrees" of faith only affect the emotional state of the "believer", not the response of God.
b. When the expected result is "material-realm", there is no question as to whether "faith" has been exercised.
1) When we have a "five-senses" realm issue, it only takes the five senses to verify the "truth".
2) If the "issue" is a broken bone, it is not hard to verify "healing"; if the issue is a certain amount of money in hand by a specified time, it is not hard to verify whether that amount of money is in hand.
2. In the area of "uncertainties".
a. There are many "faith" issues that do not have "five-senses" validation-capacities.
1) Abraham could not "five-sense-validate" the presence of the City to which he aspired.
2) Abraham could not "five-sense-validate" the fulfillment of the land, seed, or great name promises which were given to him to release him from the bondage to sin.
3) We cannot "five-sense-validate" the reality of our "justification".
4) I cannot "five-sense-validate" the positive impact of my spiritual gift.
b. In this realm, we find ourselves looking for some kind of validation.
1) How do we "believe" that we shall live with Christ given the fact that our "faith" in our death with Him is often proven to be ineffectual?
a) None of us would argue that God is not up to ... (you can fill in whatever is the most problematical issue in your life here).
b) But, our regular bondage to that issue does argue against our possession of faith in the face of Jesus' plain declaration that God responds to "mustard-seed-faith".
c) Does not our bondage to certain sins argue that we do not "believe" in our "death with Christ" and, if so, how can we argue that we do "believe" in our future life with Him?
2) Where do we go for validation of the legitimacy of our "faith" in the face of the fact that we still find ourselves "sinning"?
a) How many times have you "prayed about" a problem issue which is messing with your mind and not experienced the fulfillment of the promise of Philippians 4:6-7?
b) How do we deal with this in the light of Jesus' plain claim?
III. The Conclusions I Draw.
A. The principles are inviolable.
1. God never fails to respond to "faith" according to His promise.
2. Any lack of fulfillment of His promise is due to one of two things...
a. Either what is being called "faith" isn't faith, or...
b. The fulfillment is "downline".
B. The validation of my faith is not, finally, "up to me".
1. Paul specifically taught that it is God's Spirit Who bears witness to our spirit that He has done what is beyond our sensory perceptions.
2. Without this "witness" it is impossible to verify the integrity of faith when it is in a realm that is beyond our abilities to perceive.
3. I cannot prove, even to myself, that my "faith" is genuine once God's response is beyond my "validation-realms".
C. The validation of my faith is something I can know.
1. The witness of the Spirit is genuine and effective.
2. The impact of that witness is internally discernible...I know when I am at peace and when I am not.