by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 4 Study # 7 December 12, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
(274)Thesis:Getting the future reality firmly in mind makes a significant contribution to life in the present reality.
Introduction:This evening we are going to give some thought to Paul's concluding comment in the Romans Six stage of the revelation of the Gospel of God. It may well be one of the most often quoted verses of the New Testament when "evangelism" is on stage, but it's setting is clearly "edificational". In other words, unbelievers are not the only ones who need to get the contrast of Romans 6:23 firmly in focus. In fact, they are not even in the picture of Romans Six. This means that we, as believers, have the greater need to understand the contrast between wages and gifts.
I. The Problem.
A. The "pull" of temptation.
1. Something was driving Paul's focus upon "continuing to sin".
a. No one seeks to establish a "freedom to sin" mentality if there is nothing powerfully attractive about "sin".
1) Someone was trying to establish a "freedom to sin" mentality or Paul would not have spent all of chapter six on the issue.
2) Someone was trying to establish a "freedom to sin" mentality or Paul's first thesis in chapter six would have sufficed.
3) No one "hates" sin as much as they would like others to believe they do; in fact, the very fact that they would like others to think a certain way about them is proof of the attractiveness of sin.
b. That Paul's reasoning in chapter six requires us to bring everything we have mentally to the table proves that the issue is very complex and that, alone, proves that "sin" has a fairly significant "grip" on us.
2. The existence of the New Testament proves that believers have a penchant for wanting the blessing of God while simultaneously wanting the ability to indulge themselves in their own lusts.
a. It is ironic that we even define "blessing" primarily in terms of what we think we want.
b. It is also telling that our own lusts rarely have the ability to bring us to Life.
3. The magnitude of the damage that sin has created in our world is most easily seen by the lengths to which God has gone to "fix" it.
B. The confusion of our minds.
II. Paul's Solution.
A. Invariably, the "solution" goes beyond the present.
1. Paul sets up a "future" orientation by "stairstepping".
a. He wrote of "fruit".
b. He wrote of "the temporal impact of that fruit".
c. He wrote of the "telos" of that fruit.
d. His writing was designed to press us into a "final future" mentality.
2. Paul maintained the orientation by making the options parallel in methodology.
B. Invariably, the "solution" requires a sharp distinction.
1. In spite of "paralleling" servitude, fruit, temporal impact and the "telos", he deliberately "broke" the parallels when he got to the end.
2. He casts the issues of sin and its "telos" in terms of "wages" while casting the issue of sanctification and its "telos" in terms of a "grace gift".
C. Invariably, the "solution" requires a growing clarity of conviction of how the present affects the final future.
1. This clarity requires a potent "love" that shies away from being a major disappointment to God (the issue of the circumcised heart of Romans 2).
2. This clarity requires a potent "faith" that boldly embraces those declarations of God that enable us to be a pleasure to Him.
a. One of those declarations has to do with Romans 6:22 -- that God has set us free to engage in the "fruit-production" of sanctification in view of Eternal Life.
b. The antithesis to that declaration is the confusion of the wages/grace-gift terminology of Romans 6:23 -- that somehow it all comes back to my abilities.
3. God has set us "free" to pursue "Life" and will give us just as much as we have pursued once the pursuit is over.
a. He can be pleased: He is not a demanding hyper-critic.
b. His pleasure is directly tied to our believing pursuit of what is really valuable.