by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1 July 31, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
1901 ASV Translation:
10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
I. The Issue of the "Deadness" of the Body.
A. Clearly, he cannot mean "the body is dead" in the sense of the absence of physical, functional capacity.
B. Clearly, he cannot mean "the body is dead" in the sense of the absence of the presence of the Holy Spirit within it.
C. This means that we have to find a meaning for "dead" that allows both the indwelling presence of God and the on-going capacity to act.
1. When John came preaching in the wilderness, he accused his hearers of being a generation of vipers. His message of "forgiveness through repentance" was an offer of regeneration by which "snakes" could be "born" (again) into the new humanity in which the resurrection and the resurrected Christ would be the major players. In other words, the message of redemption was a message of a transforming new birth by which men might become new creations. In his case, "deadness" meant "separated from the true humanity of God's intention" and "united with the broken humanity of Satan's intention." But, he did not promise that this transformation would be immediately physical -- that the "body" would be immediately "transformed" into an immortal entity. His focus was upon the inner soul of man, not the outer body.
2. With this in mind, it is highly probable that Paul's meaning for "dead" is "the absence of a new birth". In other words, the "body" is not "transformed" at the point of redemption; it awaits its transformation at the point of resurrection. This would mean that the body has had nothing "done" to it to keep it from complete participation in the corruption into which it was plunged by the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3). The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit does not empower the body so that it escapes the physical corruption to which it has been subjected. The physical body is not incapable of function; it is simply consigned to the processes of Death until they win. This is a major part of Paul's meaning in 8:19-23.
D. So we conclude that "the body is dead" means that we ought to expect that our experience in the current state of affairs will include all of the "problems" associated with a physical body that is not "delivered from" the bondage of corruption to which it was subjected by Adam's eating of the fruit of the tree. We do not legitimately expect that the Spirit's presence in our bodies (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19) means "unfallen health and vitality". The Spirit is the "first-fruit" and the "earnest" of our expectation -- an expectation that will be realized at the "redemption (i.e., resurrection) of our bodies".
II. Paul's Reason(s) For Acknowledging the Absence of a Present Physical Expectation of "Life".
A. One of the most debilitating issues of "faith" is false expectation and its corollary of subtle manipulation.
B. Paul is completely "up front" with what we ought to expect from God and what we ought to refrain from demanding.
1. To expect on-going vital health in the face of "the body is dead" is to set oneself up for a crisis of faith because it is impossible to trust a God Who does not fulfill our expectations.
2. To demand on-going vital health in the face of "the body is dead" is to set one's focus upon the flesh and engage in a hostile, raging, conflict with God.
III. The Issue of "the Spirit is Life".
A. In "the body is dead", Paul used an adjective (a predicate adjective) to describe the condition of the body.
B. In "the Spirit is Life", Paul uses a noun (a predicate nominative) to identify the Spirit.
1. Paul does not say "the spirit is alive". If Paul had been thinking of the trichotomy of the human essence (body, soul, and spirit), he would have said, "the body is dead but the spirit is alive". He did not say that, because he was not thinking of that reality.
2. Paul does say "the Spirit is Life".
a. This declaration is the consequence of a prior assumption: "If Christ is in you...".
b. This statement is directly tied to 8:9 where the Spirit is identified in two ways in the same verse: He is identified as "the Spirit of God"; and He is identified as "the Spirit of Christ".
c. The point of Paul's declaration has several subtle implications...
1) He does not consider "life" to be the ability to experience undiminished physical pleasure.
2) He does consider "Life" to be the ability to experience the significance of the indwelling God.
IV. The "Because of" Phrases.
A. The general boundaries of the syntax of the phrases, "because of", focus upon either "root causes" or "objectives" [see A.T. Robertson's grammar regarding this syntax].
B. In the case of "the body is dead because of sin" the meaning is that the death that dominates the body was installed as the 'dominator' by the fact that sin inserts aggression between persons and, in this case, the persons were Adam and God. Once God withdrew His potent sustaining actions on behalf of physical flesh, the body began to be subject to the aggression of the forces of death and entered into a gradually diminishing ability to withstand them.
C. In the case of "the Spirit is life because of righteousness" the meaning is not as clear. One would normally anticipate a balanced set of phrases (as in "the body is dead and the spirit is alive") so that we could also anticipate a balanced set of "causes" (the body is dead because sin has separated it from the power of God and the spirit is alive because righteousness has been reinstated as the root of life). But this is not what we have. We have already noted Paul's switch from the adjectival "dead" to the nominal "life". The apparent reason for the switch is that Paul wanted to make a distinction between the condition of the body (and the reason for that condition) and the identity of the Life-producer (and His mechanism for that production). Man, and his efforts to produce the righteousness required for "Life", will never be sufficient for the task. God, alone, is the Author of Life because He, alone, can produce the kind of righteousness that is required by "Life" ["what the Law could not do...God did...-- 8:3]. "Life" only exists in the actual presence of uncompromised "Love". What I mean is that "uncompromised Love", alone, seeks only the beloved's best interests without consideration for the lover's "interests". At any time that the "lover" is seeking his/her own interests at the expense of the "beloved", manipulation (Sin) is compromising the "love" and "death" is in the mix. Thus, because the Spirit, alone, is able to produce the required "uncompromised Love", He, alone, is the Instrument of Life. "Uncompromised Love" is just another way to identify "righteousness". A word needs to be added here in terms of Paul's "the Spirit is Life" terminology. When the Bible takes an "attribute" of God and declares it to "be" God (as in "God is love", or, in this text, "the Spirit is Life"), the net result is an intensification of the truth that is lesser-stated adjectivally (as in "God is loving" and "the Spirit is alive"). God is not love in the sense that Love is God, nor is the Spirit life in the sense that Life is the Spirit. The linguistic phenomenon in which a person is made equivalent to a concept is simply a way to intensify the connection between the person and the concept in the minds of those who would better understand the person. "God is love" is a statement that is designed to compel those who would understand God to think in terms of the absolute purity of His love. "The Spirit is Life" is a similar statement: it is designed to force those who would "live" to recognize that the ability is only in Him. That "righteousness" is added as the root cause highlights the mechanism that actually produces the harmony between persons that allows "Life" is exist.