by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5 April 17, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(304)Thesis:"I" do not sin.
Introduction:Two weeks ago we looked into Paul's revelation that "behavior" is not a matter of "knowledge", "will", or "values". It is, rather, a matter of a "dominating spirit". According to Paul's teaching in 7:14-15 there is a fundamental mismatch between the "Law" and man's "fleshly" composition. The Law was designed to function in the realm of "spirit" and man's physical composition was designed to function in the realm of "material flesh". This mismatch sets up an inevitable failure of fallen flesh to fulfill the realities of the Law. And not only is there a mismatch, there is also the reality of verse fifteen which clearly states that what Paul "produces" by both "practice" and "simple action" is not the result of his "knowledge", his "will", or his "values". He flatly says, "I do not know", "I will but do not do", and "I do what I hate". This highlights the reason for Paul's absolute insistence that the Christian life is by the Spirit of God and not the resources of the flesh (knowledge, will, and values).
Now, this evening we are going to press on into Paul's "hair splitting". Twice in this passage Paul claims to not be ultimately responsible for the sins which are thrust forth out of his body. There is both a good reason for these claims and a good reason for us to go on into his "hair splitting". People are often "put off" by technical hair splitting, but in this area of biblical instruction on how to gain and maintain victory over Sin, the information is critical, even if it is technical.
I. The Superficial Problem of Paul's Disclaimer.
A. On the face of it, it looks like an attempt to escape responsibility. [Like the thief who argued before the judge that he ought not to be sentenced for something his hand did.]
B. People typically have little tolerance for "others" who seek to minimize their responsibility for the evil they do.
II. The Cruciality of Paul's Disclaimer.
A. It has an enormous impact upon our perception of God Himself.
1. The new era was introduced by a significant shift of focus from the "God is Holy" theological construct of God's dealings with Israel to the "God is Gracious" theological construct of God's dealings with the Church.
a. Under the former construct we had the Hebrews 10:28 reality.
b. Under the current construct we have the 1 Timothy 1:15 reality.
2. This shift of focus was not designed to destroy, in any sense, the "God is Holy" reality.
a. The shift was not designed to introduce the heresies that God is not holy, or that sin does not matter.
b. The shift was not designed to pit grace against holiness.
1) Everywhere in the New Testament that grace is taught, it is set forth as a means to a more effective method of living a holy life (witness Titus 2:11-12).
a) Because "grace" is defined as "God in action on our behalf", its resources for our success are unbounded.
b) Because one has to destroy the definition of grace in order to introduce destructive heresies, those who adhere to "grace" live effectively (2 Peter 2:1-2 in conjunction with 1 Peter 5:12).
2) The theological issue is not "pitting" but "harmonizing" the attributes of God.
3. The shift of focus was intended to move believers further into Life.
a. The former focus was designed to destroy, in every sense, the "man can approximate God's holiness" claim.
b. Once that objective is actually accomplished (man has absolutely no confidence in himself any longer -- Philippians 3:3), a new focus needed to be put into place so that a new objective could be established.
c. This new objective was that God stands ready and able to act on man's behalf so that he can enter into the actual Life of God (man can have absolute confidence in the readiness and willingness of God to act on his behalf).
4. This shift of focus was designed to create a more balanced perception of God that would enable a greater success in true living.
a. God must be properly perceived for a healthy relationship to be maintained.
b. God cannot be properly perceived if either "holiness" or "grace" are either set at odds with one another or one is dismissed in favor of the other.
c. Thus, Paul's "hair-splitting" has huge "T"heological ramifications and, consequently, just as huge "Life" ramifications.
B. It has an enormous impact upon our understanding of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
1. What is your expectation regarding the Judgment Seat of Christ?
a. Many expect that if Christ surfaces any "significant" failure that has been "buried" by denial and has not been "confessed", He will reject the subject under scrutiny from His Kingdom.
b. Our biblical expectation should be that "if any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved..." (1 Corinthians 3:11).
2. This scenario can only work if Paul's "hair-splitting" is true.
a. At the Judgment Seat Christ will accept the "Well, 'I' did not do that" statement.
b. But His rejoinder will be, "No, you did not do that, but it was done by your body and I cannot reward it." (1 Corinthians 13:3).
c. The rationale for His response is Paul's "hair-splitting": God recognizes as true what Paul pointedly claims -- "If I do ... it is no longer I that do...".
C. It has everything to do with our attitude.
1. If we have not embraced the truth of the unapproachable holiness of God (the lesson of the era of Law), our attitude will be one of "pride" and Paul's "hair-splitting" will become an "escapist" concept that will lead us further into disaster (If "I" did not do it, "I" do not have to "confess" it, nor "admit" that what is coming out of my body is evil).
2. If we have not embraced the truth of the inexhaustible grace of God (the lesson of the era of Grace), our attitude will be one of "careless licentiousness" and Paul's "hair-splitting" will become a way to dismiss God's grace as essential to our living (If "I" did not do it, "I" do not have to be concerned about the fact that it characterizes my life).