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Author Topic:   Great Debate: Romans 1-9 - Larni and Iano
iano
Member (Idle past 837 days)
Posts: 6165
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 61 of 67 (358484)
10-24-2006 8:17 AM
Reply to: Message 59 by Larni
10-24-2006 7:37 AM


Re: Romans 3: 21 on (part 1)
So, in a way, we need only to say "sorry" and be aware what we are feeling genuinely 'sorry' for (being the metaphysical crime of Adam)?

Yup. That's all it takes. Heartfelt sorrow. A sorrow enabled by God. There are various forms of words you'd get in the back of the tracts street evangelists hand out. But it all amounts to the same thing: its not the form of words but the heart behind them

{AbE} oops: not being the "crime of Adam": That would be us feeling sorry for the act of another. For our own sin. Had God not given the law nor attempted to convince us of our position then I can't see how we could be legally culpable. But seeing as he did both these things we are culpable for our own sin. If we sin we are rejecting his truth given to us. For that we can be sorry on our own behalf. Adam has nothing to do with that.

God cannot push someone over the edge who is not at the edge.

Does this tie in with the bit about it being harder for the rich man to get into heaven and the meek inheriting the world?

It does. Rich not necessarily in terms of money. It could be self-confidence, pride, power etc. Anything that enables a man to evade his need. The meek are those who see their need. They have not pride. The see themselves as spiritually impoverished.

Many would say that Christianity is a crutch for needy, weak people. They couldn't be more right. "The Gospel is good news for people who know they are bad. Its bad news for bad people who think they are good" (as the old expression goes)

So free will is concurrent with sin?

I'm not sure what you mean here. I don't think there is anything such as free will. Adam had free will. As had Christ. But they are the only ones who were not sinners. The rest of us are junkies (until freed from sin). How sin works and attaches to us will come up in the next few chapters.

An interesting task: aligning Christianity with Psychology!

As you can imagine I think a lot about that exact subject!

My girlfriend does too. A hint: psychologists are sinners too!

Finally caught up with you, wonder how long it will last

Not long;)

You seem to be getting a good hold of the mechanisms. Hope your still enjoying yourself

Going through this stuff is learning ground for me too. I caught that bit about Gods wrath poured out resulting in us sinning more being used by his love in the attempt to save us - during this thread. He lets us go > we become more depraved > he has more tools to convince us. What a genius (Him I mean)!

Edited by iano, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 59 by Larni, posted 10-24-2006 7:37 AM Larni has not yet responded

  
Larni
Member
Posts: 3999
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 62 of 67 (358485)
10-24-2006 8:29 AM
Reply to: Message 58 by iano
10-24-2006 7:29 AM


Re: Romans 3: 24 to end of chapter (part 2)
Iano and JP writes:

That is one of the horrors of hell - a person eternally hating themselves because of what they have done to themselves.
This really struck a chord with me as it fits snuggly with the various symptoms of low self esteem and confidence.

How did this strike a chord?

Many of the patients I work with are in an absolute state of dispair and self loathing because of the choices that they have made and the effect it has had on them.

Some sit with vacant eyes when they look at the choices that they have made in life. Unforced choices that prove (to them) that there is something very wrong with them.

Part of my job is to educate people in what it means to be part of the human species. The way we make choices is very flawed, the way our psychology predisposes us towards certain illogical actions looks (objectively) like we are pretty rotten.

It falls to people like me to show how this is our nature and that one can choose not to act in a detrimental way by recognising the unhelpfull cognitions and behaviours and learning to move towards more helpfull cognitions and behaviours.

But before the patient can begin to make changes in their life they have to see that they have been making certain chioces in life that have brought them to where they are now by using the illogical flawed psychology we all have.

This I think is very similar to acknowledging that one is a flawed creature of sin.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by iano, posted 10-24-2006 7:29 AM iano has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 63 by iano, posted 10-24-2006 9:11 AM Larni has not yet responded

  
iano
Member (Idle past 837 days)
Posts: 6165
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 63 of 67 (358494)
10-24-2006 9:11 AM
Reply to: Message 62 by Larni
10-24-2006 8:29 AM


Re: Romans 3: 24 to end of chapter (part 2)
Many of the patients I work with are in an absolute state of dispair and self loathing because of the choices that they have made and the effect it has had on them.

I don't suppose the role that God has waiting for you is much of a secret then...

It falls to people like me to show how this is our nature and that one can choose not to act in a detrimental way by recognising the unhelpfull cognitions and behaviours and learning to move towards more helpfull cognitions and behaviours.

Whilst getting someone back to even keel could be seen as worthwhile, in the context of our discussion you can see how this is counter productive. Their arrival at your door is them being convicted about what they are - their sin is upsetting them tremendously and rather than being at the point of crying out to God the flee to somewhere that will make the pain go away whilst allowing them to retain independance.

M Scott Peck wrote in the opening pages of "The road less travelled" that neuroses came out of people trying to avoid what pain was trying to tell them. "People don't want a cure" he said "they just want the pain gone however it is done.

Not that what you do has no use. I went to a counsellor friend of my mothers a few years before I became a Christian for the same reasons those people come to you. I was in pain and wanted out. He used an inner child model. Rather than showing me I was accountable to God he showed me I was accountable to my inner child. It eased the pain a good bit and was, in retrospect, another step on the road to God.

Your activity would (in this context) attempt to put a sticking plaster on the wound. At times this must happen. Sometimes a person cannot handle the pain involved with coming to God and a respite is called for.

I imagine there would be ways to adapt the foundational notions involved were you a Christian. AA does it with "higher power" my counsellor did it with inner child. The person feels accountable and rather than absolve it it could be used as a lever to assist them onwards.

You'd have to be convinced yourself of course :)

Maybe one day....


This message is a reply to:
 Message 62 by Larni, posted 10-24-2006 8:29 AM Larni has not yet responded

  
iano
Member (Idle past 837 days)
Posts: 6165
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 64 of 67 (358536)
10-24-2006 1:12 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by iano
10-03-2006 1:38 PM


Romans 4: Justification by faith (part 2)
quote:
1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

We see some more demolition of the notion that being declared righteous (justified) is something that can be achieved by our behaviour. Our good deeds. Our good deeds would be those defined as such by God. If you take actions which result in you “loving your neighbour as yourself” then you have done a good deed. The good samaritan did a good deed. The trouble is that these things don’t earn us righteousness. God is concerned about our sin and doing good doesn't deal with our sin.

That doesn’t really sound like good news though does it. So perhaps we could put it this way. Righteousness is a necessity and it is freely available and you don't have to do anything to get it – it is a gift given to you from God! This is very good news indeed. And he underlines his positive way of stating these things again by looking it from the negative: a man cannot boast. That is a negative way of expressing good news “You cannot boast of what you have done - which proves you don't have to do anything"

quote:
4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7"Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him."


Here Paul is teasing things out by way of comparison. If a man worked towards his salvation then, according to the norms of working life he is due salvation as a wage for his work. He has earned it. The person who would have set the task (God) is obliged to pay a man his due. Recall what I said about viewing Paul’s whole argument from a legal standpoint. Things must balance out in a just and legal sense – there can be no loopholes, such as working for salvation then not getting it. Furthermore, salvation is described as a gift - therefore works cannot have anything to do with it. He then applies to mankind in general the lesson that Abraham learnt: trusting God, believing God, having faith in what God says he will do … results in God crediting righteousness to that mans spiritual account. Try re-reading it modified slightly like this:

quote:
4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the wicked man who does not work, but who instead trusts God (who is the justifier of the wicked), his faith is credited as righteousness

Note that he says that God justifies “the wicked”. We have seen in Roman 1:18 and beyond that Gods wrath is poured out on those who suppress the truth in their wickedness. We saw to that that was all mankind – for the very nature of a sinner is to suppress the truth. Yet it is the wicked man that God justifies. “I came to seek and save the lost” said Jesus. Same thing. The lost are the wicked.

Paul now refers to another Old Testament example: The words of a great biblical hero: King David. This man was much loved and blessed by God. A man after Gods own heart no less. Yet whilst in that privileged favour he looked upon a bathing Bathsheba, lusted after her and took her. She got pregnant and in his panic David called her husband home from the war front. David hoped that the husband would sleep with her and reckon himself to have made her pregnant – letting David off the hook. And when the husband wouldn’t sleep with his wife – in honour of his men still fighting and dying at the front – David sent him back on an impossible mission so as to ensure he would be killed. And David cried out to God and God forgave him and restored him and did great work through him. David, a murderer, had as good a very reason to say as he said.

Note the covering of sin referred to here: robed in Christs righteousness as the NT puts it. A man is declared righteous because he wears a robe of righteousness – not because he is instrinically righteous. We will see a lot of mention soon about a Christian being a person who is "in Christ". Christ is righteous and anyone in him is seen as righteous. Note too the parallel drawn by Paul when he uses Davids words here. He aligns righteousness without works with a persons sins being forgiven by God. And for good reason.

True forgiveness involves no work on the part of the offender in order that he be forgiven. In the ultimate sense of forgiveness it is the person offended against who must pay the full price for the offence. If I crash into your car and you truly forgive me then you must not say “I forgive you” then send me the bill for repairs. No, forgiveness is true forgiveness when you, the offended party, pay the bill and I pay nothing at all. And a saved man is a man whose every transgressions past, present and future are forgiven him. The price for every transgression being paid for by God himself (for a price must be paid – Gods justice demands that. Jesus was the person who paid).

Furthermore, it is impossible for an offender to be truly forgiven if the offender pays in any way for his offence. Forgiveness means the offendee must pay and the offender pays nothing.

Where is boasting of work now? There is no room for it. God has done the work. He has done the forgiving by paying mans debt on mans behalf. And when he has done the work on a mans behalf, when he has paid the debt owed for sin ("the wages of sin is death" - God deposited the wages of sin into Christs account at the cross) there is no legal impediment to declaring a man as God can now declare him. "Righteous!" God says.

quote:
9Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Paul’s audience hasn’t changed. They will have read this far in far shorter time that it has taken us to get here. He is still concerned with the person who is objecting in his mind to this gospel. The Jew (or anyone else) who is still wondering what the point of being a Jew is when that in itself offers no righteousness in Gods sight. Circumcision has significance regarding right standing before God for a Jew (much the same as infant baptism has for a Roman Catholic). To a Jewish mind, he is one of Gods own people. He pays his dues, he carries out his duties as a Jew and that is that. God is satisfied with him.

Paul demolishes this in one fell swoop. Abraham, the very father of the Jewish nation was declared righteous in Gods sight before he was circumcised! This means that he was a Gentile at the time! Paul uses an exclamation mark at the end of verse 10 to underline the shock value. What is the Jew to make of the person he reveres as the father of his nationhood being declared righteous whilst he was an uncircumcised Gentile? Well we know how he should respond. Then as now (if fully fledged orthodox) he would consider the gentile as nothing more that a dog. We see Jesus at the well with a Samarian woman (of little repute) and the shock that would have caused to the disciples. She was a dog. We see too the story of the good Samaritan (Samarian) who tended to the Jewish priest who had been set upon by bandits. A Jewish priest! One who above all would consider the Samarian a dog. Yet the good Samarian helps him – his being considered a dog in the eyes of a Jewish priest underlining the extent of his good deed. We see Pontius Pilate coming out to meet the Sanhedrin during Jesus' trial because they were not permitted to defile themselves so close to the Sabbath by entering the court of a gentile – and him their governor! Pontious Pilate was aware of what being a gentile ment to the Jew. Abraham - a gentile!!

Small wonder Paul’s use of an exclamation mark! “What use this circumcision?” Paul asks the objector. He proves something to the Jew from the OT case of their very own national father. He was first declared righteous before God - THEN he was given circumcision as a symbol of the transaction that took place - namely that he has been justified. The sign in and of itself is meaningless without that which it is supposed to signify. And there is as much to be learned today. Infant (or any other) baptism is as useless as it any other symbolic sign that is issued without the presence of that which it is supposed to symbolise. One might as well flash their BMW key fob around in the pub on a Saturday night - whilst having no BMW parked in the car park. That's how ridiculous pride or reliance in ones circumcision is.

And he goes on to say that Abraham is the forefather of anyone to whom this same event has occurred. This "being declared righteous by God". They can be a gentile living today or a Jew living in Jesus day. Jew or gentile it makes no difference. All that matters is: have you been declared righteous by God?

Salvation is open to all in the same way. A man believes what God says and it is credited to him as righeousness. A man is justified by faith in God. Justification by faith. Alone.

Edited by iano, : No reason given.

Edited by iano, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 53 by iano, posted 10-03-2006 1:38 PM iano has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 65 by iano, posted 10-25-2006 12:58 PM iano has not yet responded

  
iano
Member (Idle past 837 days)
Posts: 6165
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 65 of 67 (358780)
10-25-2006 12:58 PM
Reply to: Message 64 by iano
10-24-2006 1:12 PM


Romans 4: Justification by faith (part 3)
quote:
Romans 4:11 So then (Paul concludes from argument), he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

We are familiar the likes of Newton, Kepler, Joule, Watt etc being described as the Fathers of Science. The understanding we take from this is that there are certain men and women were the first to embark on something which we continue to engage in today. The essential principles set out then are the same principles we hold today.

This is the kind of thing that is going on here w.r.t. Abraham. He is the forerunner of people who are declared righteous in the same way, ie: by faith. He is the forerunner of the uncircumcised (Gentile) who does as he did: "believed God" and the forerunner of the circumcised (Jew) who does as Abraham did before he was circumcised: "believed God". The physical cirumcision of Judaism is an irrelevancy. We saw at the start of chapter 3 that there is an advantage to being a Jew - but just not in the sense of it making a person righteous before God. Being a chosen (by God) people for a purpose doesn't mean they have not the same problem as everyone else. The Jew is a sinner too and their sin must be dealt with as much as anyones for "nothing impure shall enter the kingdom of heaven"

There is no difference today. There are many who think that their Religion is what is going to save them. A Roman Catholic will place his faith in his membership of that church. He, like the Jew, follows its ordinances and partakes of its sacraments. But in vain. This is not to say that a Roman Catholic cannot be a Christian - not at all. But he is in the same position as the circumcised Jew who relies on his circumcision (or nationhood)for his salvation. The same goes for a Mormon or a Jehovahs Witness or an Evangelical or a Baptist or an Anglican or an anything else - if it is their Religion they are relying on but have not yet "believed God"

The Catholic can remain a Catholic - God is not interested in which denomination a person holds to or whether they hold to none. To be saved any man must somehow come to believe what God says concerning him in order to have righteousness credited to his account. Look at the worlds Religions: can you see the same thing. The practices and ordinances of each Religion are what faith is put in. The Muslim has his 5 pillars. The Buddhist meditates. The Hindu offeres sacrifices to his god, the Roman Catholic is baptised and goes to church on a Sunday. These are all parallels of the physical circumcision in which a Jew places his trust.

Jumping a little ahead to Romans 9 and a little back to Romans 2 we can tie something of this argument of Pauls together. His dealing with the person who is understandibly shocked at this "justification by faith" doctrine. Shocked that a (perhaps) life long holding to membership of a nation then (Israel) or Religion now means nothing in terms of salvation. Or to look wider: shocked because they, the atheist and humanist, find this theoretical God who they like discussing so much doesn't look to the morality of the man in His assessment of a man.

Isn't that counter intuitive? Try it yourself. Talk to the average unbeliever (one who doesn't really have an thought-out worldview) and ask them if there was a God and a heaven do they think they would go there. If they say "yes" ask them on what basis they think that. You will be told "because I'm not such a bad fellow. Sure I mess up now and then - I'm not perfect. But God, if he exists, would be ok with me"

Have a read of all three of the following sections...

quote:
Romans 2:28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

quote:
Romans 4:11 So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised

quote:
Romans 9:6 It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children.

Hopefully you will begin to see the link. There is a physical nation Israel, then as now. Abraham was the founding father of that physical nation. And the physical descendants of his are his physical children. Physical Israel are Gods chosen people. Chosen by God to be the people through whom he would reveal himself through his word and through whom a Messiah would come to save the world. We saw this at the start of Chapter 3.

But Abraham is also the spiritual father of a spiritual nation that God is putting together. The physical nation Israel claim Abraham as their spiritual father too but this is not the case. This spiritual nation of God is a nation consisting of...you guessed it...chosen people. But chosen in a spiritual sense. People chosen according to the criteria mentioned previously: "Do they reject my attempt to save them". And the people who make up that spiritual nation are spiritual Jews. People who have had a circumcision - not of the flesh (as a physical Jew would have) but of the heart: a spiritual circumcision they receive when they are declared righteous. Not declared righteous by obeying the law but declared righteous by God because they believed him - be they physical Jew or physical Gentile.

quote:
13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Paul is driving the above points home. The account in Genesis of Abrahams dealing with God rests on his believing God. The covenant that God established with Abraham was an unconditional, everlasting one. It doesn't rely on Abraham "keeping to his side of the bargain". It is an unconditional covenant in the sense that man has to do anything to ensure its maintenance. Now do you see why Jesus railed at the Pharisees so much? The Pharisees were all about legalistic Religion but were missing the point of the convenant devoid of law. Eternal life wasn't going to come through the law. God was going to build up a nation of the living by justifying those who believed him.

The law itself is, as we have seen, a means whereby God can justly pour out his wrath. See it here as Paul says it again.

quote:
And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Isn't it plain? Sin was in the world before the (God given) law came. It was back in the garden of Eden with the serpents temptation Sin was in man long before the law was issued. But God cannot legally punish sin where there is no transgression of law - for want of a law. Think about it: if there is no sign saying "30mph" then no justice can convict you of speeding. If there is no sign saying "Keep of the grass" then no court can convict you of walking on the grass - even if walking on the grass causes damage to it.

The law given in order that sinful man would have a law to transgress. And when man transgresses Gods law, God is just in pouring out his wrath. And we have seen what that can mean one of two things

- the potental positive outcome. It may lead a man to salvation if he is convinced by God he must keep it yet cannot keep it.

- the potential negative outcome. It may condemn a man to Hell if he refuses to be convinced he cannot keep it and persists in insisting he can keep it. Or insists that trying to keep as best he can can ever suffice

Edited by iano, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 64 by iano, posted 10-24-2006 1:12 PM iano has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 66 by Larni, posted 11-28-2006 8:46 AM iano has responded

  
Larni
Member
Posts: 3999
From: Liverpool
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 66 of 67 (366462)
11-28-2006 8:46 AM
Reply to: Message 65 by iano
10-25-2006 12:58 PM


Re: Romans 4: Justification by faith (part 3)
So the Law is there to show us what we doing wrong, even though we can never live up to the Law.

It seems to me that God is; and that is definitial for the state of the universe.

Without the Law (as an illuminaing factor), we would have no idea as to the nature of our transgression (our very existance).

Then it follows that the Law lets us say "I can never live up to that with out help, but I must recognise that I need (and then ask for) help from God."

Therefore (and correct me if I am wrong) following the Law is not the point.

The point is that the Law is real and we can never live up to it. The subsequent transgression is taken by Jesus if we let him.

How am I doing?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 65 by iano, posted 10-25-2006 12:58 PM iano has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 67 by iano, posted 11-29-2006 11:19 AM Larni has not yet responded

  
iano
Member (Idle past 837 days)
Posts: 6165
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 67 of 67 (366768)
11-29-2006 11:19 AM
Reply to: Message 66 by Larni
11-28-2006 8:46 AM


Re: Romans 4: Justification by faith (part 3)
Hi there Larni. I wasn’t sure if you were continuing with this. I’m away from EvC but will pop by for this if your posting to it. A bit of a long post coming up but since Paul is going to be going to be dealing with aspects of the law chapters 6 and 7 a bit of a root around might be good by way of preparation for us both.

So the Law is there to show us what we (are) doing wrong, even though we can never live up to the Law.

To do a rough recap. We have seen 3 central points that Paul has made so far.

1) Every man is sinner and Gods condemnation and wrath is upon him because his sin.

2) Attempting to ‘get right’ with God through trying to obey the law will not solve the problem of mans lawbreaking. I say ‘try’ because no man can keep all the law.

3) What it is that does solve the problem of a mans sin (or unrighteousness) is believing what God says. This believing God results in God crediting righteous to a mans account (legally: Christ pays for the sin and his ‘paid in full’ receipt is credited to the man by God)

In Romans 5 Paul is going to talk some more about this way of salvation being a sure way of salvation – that a person justified by (by means of or through the medium of) faith is guaranteed to spend eternity with God and all the rest that goes with salvation. Paul will continue on this ‘assurance of salvation’ theme in chapter 8 but will first insert a parentheses into his train of argument (by means of chapters 6 and 7) in order to deal with, amongst other things, the law. His reason for doing so is that he must address some of the questions and objections that can be expected to arise in the mind of a person who has been told the astounding things above. And they are astounding things – especially the completely counter-intuitive notion that being good/moral/law-adhering doesn’t count one iota with God in terms of it gaining a man his salvation.

But regarding what you say above. And I mean this in the context of the laws function in so far as it pertains to a non-Christian/unsaved/unjustified/legally unrighteous person. The law applies differently to a Christian/saved/justified/legally righteous person – and we should not confuse the two categories of people.

So the Law is there to show us what we (are) doing wrong, even though we can never live up to the Law.

Nearly, but not quite tight enough. If the law was there to show us what we were doing wrong then the tendency might well be to try not to do wrong. We would tend to extract out that the law is to operate as a moral guide. We must move back a slight step to something far more…er… fundamental. The law is there to show us that we do wrong in the first place. That’s where we need to halt. We should not (but do) bypass that fact, accept it and carry on to investigate and be concerned with the what we are doing wrong and how we may avoid doing wrong. We’ve gone too far. What is important is not ‘what we are doing’ but ‘that we are doing’ in other words. Furthermore: it's not "doing wrong" but "doing wrong in the sight of God" an important distinguishment that gets forgotten about in the clamour to obey the law.

It makes no difference whether the man is an atheist or a religious. The case of the atheist is obvious enough. Patently he must be convinced. But so too must the religious. The religious might see that he does do wrong in the sight of God. He accepts that. But he is a man only partially convinced by the law. He is not convinced that this alone (his doing wrong) condemns him. He is not convinced that there is no need to progress further in his wonderings about his eternal fate. He is already condemned and should halt right where he is. But he doesn’t halt. He skips on to get to thinking about how he can resolve this problem. That by his trying to obey the law he can somehow redeem himself. Paul has demolished that notion. And the law, enabled by mans own lawbreaking, will seek to drive the words of Jesus and all the others into a mans heart. Witness the rich young ruler as he approaches Jesus in Luke 18. It would be worth reading the complete story but I’ll just put up the key verse here. Notice the starting precept of the rich young ruler:

quote:
18A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

“What must I do?” “How do I redeem myself?” “How do I earn righteousness?” All the same thing. He did much good, this man, but Jesus knows that no one can follow his commands so poses one for the rich young ruler in order to illustrate the very thing that Paul has been explaining. “Give up your false god: the love of money, comfort and luxury and influence” Jesus told him in effect “and come follow me” The rich young ruler couldn’t comply and so failed the first of Jesus two golden rules: love God with all your heart soul and mind.

“By the deeds of the law shall no man be seen as righteous in his sight” said Paul early on in Romans. For the simple reason that no man, rich young ruler or otherwise, can follow all the deeds of the law. Everyman has his own personal stumbling block.

The religious man ignores this first principle and ploughs on. Recnognising his sin he denies his automatic condemnation and seeks refuge in “I am trying to do better”. But the law continues to press at him at every turn. And when that man inevitably stumbles the law cries “Lawbreaker, lawbreaker, lawbreaker” at him. “I must try harder and harder” says the religious man in response – refusing the conviction the law is trying to lay on him. That’s all ‘trying to obey the law’ is, Larni: an ongoing rejection of the true message of the law which tries to get a mans attention and tell him that he is already condemned and that every transgression only adds to his condemnation. Getting it right sometimes doesn’t deal with having gotten it wrong so many other times. It’s a message the religious man refuses to listen to because the consequences of accepting that message are so terrifying he finds he cannot accept it. He is literally sticking his head in the sand. What he is not doing is considering the good news – he has missed it completely. The good news is telling this man that on the day he relents and accepts his hopeless condition before God he will find God holding out that which he desperately seeks to earn himself but cannot. Righteousness – offered by God to man – as a gift. Its sitting there waiting for him and the only thing stopping him having it is his own refusal to have it.

It seems to me that God is; and that is definitial for the state of the universe.

Not quite sure what you mean here. But I take this from it in relation to law.

A wrong take on the purpose of the law tends to get man focused on the law and what the law is apparently trying to achieve. The law as a moral guide. Take “keep off the grass”. That’s a law and that laws apparent purpose is force people into not damaging the grass. And people find that they have varying views on this. Some won’t give a monkeys and will trek across the grass. Others obey the sign fearing retribution or feeling it goes against their moral code. Each has a subjective take on the law. But what lies behind that law is the motivation of the person who put up the sign in the first place. Not their retribution nor the putting up of the sign but the original motivation right back at the start. Their original goal is for the grass to frame a lovely flowerbed they placed in the middle and they intend that all should enjoy the whole thing as it is designed to be enjoyed: to simply view it. The goal is not that others come along and spoil what is intended by having picnics on it or letting their dogs crap on it and in so doing ruining it all for all. The person who put the sign up didn’t and doesn’t want the sign there, they want a situation where all people appreciate the arrangement in the only way it can be appreciated without it being destroyed. As it was designed to be appreciated. The law is a later thing – not the original desire or motivation of the originator.

God is…perfect. Everything as he intends it can be enjoyed in one way only. As he designed it to be enjoyed. We think we can do better and for a while it seems that we get away with it. But we find that our letting our dog crap on the grass ruins our next picnic - whose left-behind food remnants soils our shoes the next time we take a stroll on the grass. Our deciding to pluck some flowers from the flowerbed for a nice (but temporary) arrangement back home reduces the visual pleasure we and everyone else gets next time we/they are passing. Man wanting to do things his way only and ever mucks things up.

God is indeed definitional. His way is the only way it works. And he is trying to get us to see that. And to bring us to the point where we will let him alter us so that we too see the sense (not the condemnation) behind the sign “keep off the grass”. For when we do see it finally there will be no more need of the sign. And that place is called heaven. There are no laws in heaven for there will be no need of laws. All there will be is people who have been once convinced that Gods way is the best way. The only way. And having been once convinced God promises to do the work necessary in order for that person to be fit for heaven - where all they have to do is enjoy what he has laid out for them.

Without the Law (as an illuminating factor), we would have no idea as to the nature of our transgression (our very existence).

Without the law to illuminate we would have no idea as to our nature. Our nature being a desire and tendency towards sin as my cat’s nature is to bring in dead birds. As an aside: it wouldn’t be justice to punish my cat for bringing in dead birds – that’s her nature. Nor would it be just to punish us for that which we do according to a nature we were infected with. Not justice that is, were it not for something that my cat has no access to – a call of conscience. The call of conscience is the medium by which the law is enabled to illuminate our nature for us (and perhaps lead us to salvation). It happens to be the very same thing that makes us culpable for our sin and results in us being justly damned – should things go that way. Conscience, or rather the law (illumination) delivered to us via conscience, is a double edged sword.

Have a look at what Paul says in Romans 7 regarding the laws illumination.

quote:
7What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." 8But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.

Then it follows that the Law lets us say "I can never live up to that with out help, but I must recognize that I need (and then ask for) help from God."

The law finishes with us at a point (in the context of a person in an unsaved state I repeat). If it completes its God-directed mission successfully then it will deliver us off at a particular place. A point where we know that we are in real trouble. We might not be considering it to be Gods laws we are breaking at this point. Or even think of God as a solution. The law has completed its work when it has delivered us to the place of deep trouble – then it retires its work done.

In my own case the sense (IIRC) was just that I was, deep down, bad. And of realizing that there was no hope of me being good. And that this mattered to me – otherwise I wouldn’t have been troubled by it. The law had (this is me using 20/20 hindsight) convinced me there was something rotten at the core of me. It was whilst in this state that I picked up a small tract my mam had given me years before and which I had stuck in a bookcase. In it, I read that what I was undergoing was down to sin in fact – sin maintaining a separateness between me and God in which rotteness could flourish Rotten wasn’t occurring in a vacuum – there was a reason for it.

So when I prayed (from the heart) the prayer at the end of the tract it was not that I believed in God (for I had no hard evidence of God) but that if there was to be any solution to this then it could only occur if God existed. God would a) have to exist and b)resolve it (as the tract said he promises he will) - for there was no other possible avenue of escape. I (as does everyone else) tried to evade what the law is doing all the way down the line – I’d just run out of avenues of evasion. Paul in his epistle to the Galatians

quote:
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. ...

I tried to evade it but this is what it ended up doing for all that. It brought me to the place where there were no options except him. And I took the only option available. This was not a choice on my part because faced with only one option choice is not possible. A heartfelt confession was needed from me and the law didn’t make that confession for me. But it brought me to a place where I could make that confession…for want of any options. I could have rejected along the way. Refused to be brought. But this is the way God works to remove all the options so that he is left as the only one. He brings a person to the point where they are scraping the bottom of the barrel only to find him. He is meek – not proud.

Therefore (and correct me if I am wrong) following the Law is not the point. The point is that the Law is real and we can never live up to it. The subsequent transgression is taken by Jesus if we let him.

Pre-conversion following of the law is certainly not the point. You might be seeing that doing so is theoretically counter-productive because it works against that which the law is actually trying to achieve. A man who errs into being content as to his law following is further from being convinced than the man who is discontented because of his law breaking. "Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the earth”. Law following is Religion. The danger of Religion is that it brings religiosity and hypocrisy and self-satisfaction - anything but poorness of spirit. Religion occupies a number of lanes and the wide highway that leads to destruction. Little wonder the Bible attaches numerous health warnings to Religion

The law’s function will hopefully be clearer both theologically (“convincing us we are sinners”) and practically/experientially (“we don’t have to know the theological aspects in order for it to complete its task”). When delivered at Christ we WILL turn to him as our only hope – because we are hopeless otherwise. All past transgression and all subsequent transgression is dealt with by him. Post-conversion sin is another story. Paul will be dealing with the state of a believer in his relation to the law here in Romans too

How am I doing?

Pretty darn good. Don’t be put off by the length of the post. The essentials are in what you say but its good to pick them apart a little for clarity. Much of this will come in useful when dealing with Romans 6 and 7 anyway.

Later dude.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 66 by Larni, posted 11-28-2006 8:46 AM Larni has not yet responded

  
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