by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 14 July 14, 2013 Dayton, Texas
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
1901 ASV Translation:
23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.
24 And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.
25 If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk.
26 Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.
I. The "Fruit" of the Spirit.
A. Calling it "fruit".
B. The organization of the "fruit".
C. The characteristics of the "fruit" (singular).
1. In respect to the inner man.
2. In respect to other human beings.
3. In respect to God.
D. The final characterization: there is no law against this "fruit".
1. The nature of this claim.
a. It is "obvious" on the face of it.
b. It has to have a "reason for being": Paul did not write this "obvious" claim for no cause.
c. The mostlikely scenario is Paul's anticipation of the "claim" of the adversaries: "grace" just leaves men free to sin.
2. Paul's anticipation.
a. After Paul established "grace" in Romans 5:21, he immediately turned to this question: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" This indicates that he was fully aware of the arguments of his opponents (Romans 3:8): "grace", say they, will not stop sinners from sinning and will set itself up as an excuse to continue in sin. That this was the core argument of the false brethren is underscored by the fact that Paul "hammered" it in the verses following both Romans 6:1 and 6:15.
1) In this light, it is noteworthy that it was Paul's argument that "law" produces "sinful behavior" (Romans 7:8-9) and it was the argument of his adversaries that "grace" does notstop "sinful behavior". Both focus upon whether their methodology will address the problematic issue: sinning.
a) The question is this: How does "Law" produce sinful behavior?
b) The answer is multifaceted.
i. One side of the coin simply establishes the fact that "law" defines "sins" so that, without that definition, no condemnation can be imposed [Note well the argument of Romans 2:12-15 where Paul goes to lengths to create a presence of "law" so that all come under judgment]. Romans 4:15 argues that no transgression exists where no law exists (Duh). Romans 7:5 says "the motions of sins, which were by the law...". Romans 7:8 says "without the law sin was dead".
ii. On the other side of the coin is the reality that "law" has no "reason for being" if everyone is righteous; "law" is only for the unrighteous (1 Timothy 1:9). This means that "law" was imposed after man's corruption (what about "...thou shalt not eat of the tree..."??) and that, as such, it was an imposition for judgment to get rid of evildoers so that the righteous can live without their corruption of Life. This moves us to the bottom line: men, being evil, are inherently rebellious against any "god" other than themselves so that any "law" coming from such a "god" would automatically run smack into that rebelliousness.
iii. It is the combination of "rebellion" (you can't tell me what to do) and "egotism" (who are you to call my behavior 'sin'?) that react against "law" to generate sinful behavior.
2) At the root of Paul's argument is this reality: legalists use the law's production of "apparent righteousness" to boast (Romans 2:17, 23 and 3:27) while Paul uses grace's production of the fruit of the Spirit to generate a thankful humility.
b. Paul's knowledge of "legalism" from his own heavily invested experience surfaces the most crucial issue: will "Life" arise out of the pressure of "Law" or the freedom of "Grace"?
E. Paul's conclusion: those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh.
1. This claim is that those in whom Christ has been formed (Galatians 4:19) have crucified "the flesh".
a. That believers (like the Galatians) continue to act "out of the flesh" (as did the "justified" Abraham) does not remove this claim from serious consideration.
1) Nowhere does Paul claim that believers will not act in fleshly ways.
2) Everywhere Paul's exhortations and teaching assume that "fleshliness" is yet, not merely possible, but probable.
b. This "crucifixion" of the flesh is by way of our identification with Christ in His crucifixion (6:14). This removes us one step away from what happens to people who are physically crucified (they die and all of the things that happen to people who die follow along). We do not physically "die" so that the benefits of death do not become ours in literal, physical, fact. But this "removal" by one step does not remove us from the possibility of those benefits. Because the Spirit of the risen Lord resides in us, the body's drag upon us can be "handled" (Romans 8:10).
1) There are actually two "drags" upon us by reason of the body's lack of regeneration.
a) There is the "drag" of the body's weaknesses that overrules some of the Spirit's capacities (Romans 8:23). Though the Spirit can overrule those weaknesses; He does not typically do that (Paul's difficulties in seeing were not overruled by the Spirit: 6:11 [he wrote with "a large hand" because he could not see well], nor were Timothy's [1 Timothy 5:23]).
b) There is the "drag" of the body's weaknesses that complicates what faith would produce if the weaknesses of the body did not introduce some level(s) of unbelief. Many of our "sins" are the result of attitudes we take because of the condition of our bodies.
2) These "drags" can be handled if we disallow them to infect our responses with the typical reactions of self-pity, helplessness, and/or anger that bleed off "faith" so that the Spirit is sidelined by our unbelief. God's real agenda is "godliness", not certain kinds of physical activities.