The Ultimate Realities
Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. 3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
The Law and Sin
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
Shall we go on sinning that grace might increase? What do we do about our sinfulness in general? This is our topic. 6-8
The question of managing behavior when forgiveness is assured. Perfect righteousness and individual righteous acts.
Which form of righteousness is Paul addressing in each passage? Consider Hebrews 10:
Hebrews 10: 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Why are these Old Testament animal sacrifices made? Is it because of obedience to the law or is it because the law is not obeyed?
Do the sacrifices take away sin? They do not. How do we know that? They are made over and over.
What does take away sin mean in this context? It means take away the reminder of our penalty of sin. What does Christ do? Takes away sin. He has perfected for all time people.
How are those perfected people described? They are being made holy. There it is. There are the ultimate realities!
- Ultimate Realities
The world of the forms, the realities of God’s nature and character
- Righteousness from God and from man
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed [k]from faith to faith; as it is written: “[l]But the righteous one will live by faith.”
The standard for righteousness is God’s standard. Can it be met?
The law is the standard.
The law is good.
The law is regularly broken by all men.
God is not impressed with loopholes at all. In fact, He finds them to be the worst of things.
(Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 on the law) Your righteousness must surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees.
I die to the law and live to a different standard! V.1-4
Chapter 8 the law is weakened by my sinful behavior. The problem with the law is me. So, I die to keeping the law for my righteousness (from the perspective of my justification)
Why must Paul emphasize to these people that the law is good? Because it does not produce perfect righteousness!
- Behavior will always be what is measured
Sanctification follows Justification.
He Who began a good work in you…
You will know them by their fruit
Matthew 12: 33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
you also died to the law (to the Old Covenant) through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
You belong to Christ, not yourself. Because of this, you submit to Christ and you bear fruit! Bearing fruit is producing the positive good that God intends for you to produce. That is the plan.
- God is what we are discovering
This has been God’s plan from the very beginning. Seed of the woman. Tons of OT pictures. Isaiah 53:
6 All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all To fall on Him.
Romans 11: 33 Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him, that it would be paid back to him? 36 For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
We knew God as Creator and Lawgiver and Judge. Now we know God as Savior and Redeemer! We know God as perfect in justice and in mercy. In righteousness and in love. And He is all of these things!!
Or as Paul says in Romans 9: Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!
Having looked at the ultimate realities as they relate to us, what are the implications of those realities? What is to be the ongoing interaction of people who are in Christ with the kingdom of God? Or as Francis Schaeffer said, “How shall we then live?”
- Ongoing Interactions with the Kingdom of God
The proper interaction with God follows this pathway:
- Knowledge of the kingdom comes first
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. In life we discover truths about God and His plans and purposes for our lives. Understand Scriptural truths and see how they apply to our marriages, our work, our parenting, all of our relationships, including our relationship to the environment. We learn more about the law!
- Knowledge of sin second
I do not measure up to God’s standard. I struggle to manage the responsibility of a citizen in the kingdom of God. I can have victory and growth, but not perfect righteousness. I will never be the standard and will always walk in humility before God. I will be forever grateful to Christ and will forever declare:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
What should I do as a result of the knowledge of my sin?
And why should I do it?
- Repentance and trust in the King
I trust that the King of God’s Kingdom has made me a citizen. He has given me this gift. And because I am secure in this relationship, I turn to my kingdom responsibilities: Love of God and man, Service and giving flowing out of that love. Reflecting justice in my actions, reflecting mercy in my response to others faults, living in a submissive manner to God, allowing Him to decide in what ways I must forgive and serve and love etc.
And this process repeats. In a very real sense, it is this process for life that we are embracing. Why? Because Sanctification IS a process. Some see Sanctification as an event, a second work of grace etc. and there is truth in a sanctifying second work of grace especially for people who have not had the process of Sanctification properly explained. But, there will be a third and fourth and fifth and so on.
We may find that we come to really difficult issues for us: How can I be a follower of Christ and not follow Christ?
How can my spouse be my spouse and not love me as our wedding vows indicate that they promised? There are two partners in the relationship.
II Tim 2: 11 The statement is trustworthy:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He will also deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
I trust the king!
Paul has this emphasis that is central to chapters 6-8 and then 12:1,2 which are at the heart of how we work out our salvation. The primary ultimate reality is this:
III. We Serve God in the New Way of the Spirit v.6
- New because it works v.7-12
The law would work if I were not sinful. That is what the next section points out clearly. But just knowing what we are to do does not cause us to do it. We have sin ingrained in us that needs to be worked out. So, we start from a position of confidence, I am justified, now, I work out my salvation! When I find that I am struggling, like Paul does in the next passage, I agree that sin is in me and I choose the Spirit, and not the flesh!
- The Spirit as in not the physical
Romans 8: “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ”
The Spirit as in a Platonic context.
The spirit is what is “really real.” The world of the forms. The world where true justice, true righteousness, true love etc. reside.
Our perspective on life is not fully informed. Plato’s cave. We see dimly. But there is a world of reality! It is in the realm of the Holy Spirit. It is the realm of the Spirit of God.
II Corinthians 5: 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
**This is the ultimate reality!**
- The Holy Spirit and my spirit in cooperation
This is described in chapter 8 much more fully.
8:4 We live according to the Spirit
8:5 We set our mind on what the Spirit desires
8:6 The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace
8:9 You are in the realm of the Spirit if the Spirit of God lives in you.
10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.