Tag Archives: grace

Grace in Which We Stand – Part 4

Review:

Last week we answered two questions.

  • Why do Christians who stand in God’s grace still sin?
  • Is God sovereign over our sin? Is our sin outside of God’s purposes?
  • Our aim, ultimately, to continue exposing how our works baggage obscures the peace, joy and freedom God’s extravagant grace brings to the believer.

 

We located the answer to the first question in the nature of God’s Kingdom.

  • It is a now and not yet Kingdom.
  • “The kingdom has been inaugurated, but not yet consummated” – Trevin Wax.

 

Quite simply, the inaugurated kingdom contains things the not yet consummated kingdom will not contain.

  • One of those things is the presence of sin in believers.
  • In the “now” kingdom, we will continue to sin.
  • We are free from sin’s dominion (the “now” kingdom), but not free from its presence (yet to come kingdom).

 

Tom Schreiner put it as follows:

“When believers contemplate their own capacities, it is clear that they do not have the resources to do what God demands. In encountering God’s demands, we are still conscious of our wretchedness and inherent inability. The struggle with sin continues for believers because we live in the tension between the already and the not yet” – Tom Schreiner.

 

We answered the second question as follows:

  • Though we are delivered from the power of sin, God leaves us “with a sinful nature that will wage war against our new nature for the remainder of our lives” – Barbara Duguid.

 

Why?

“In the sovereign will of God, the Christian life is supposed to be this way. God is capable, when he pleases and for his own purposes, of giving me the grace to stand and resist temptation. But often he chooses instead, for his own good purposes, to show me grace through my falls, humbling me and teaching me my desperate need of him” – Barbara Duguid.

 

We then located the reason for this view in two Scriptural examples.

 

(1) Paul speaks of one such example:

  • Romans 5:20 (ESV) — 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

 

N.T. Wright teases Paul’s point out for us.

  • “What was God up to, giving the law not simply knowing that it would give sin the chance to grow to its full height, but actually in order that it might do so?” – N.T. Wright.
  • Answer – to deal with sin once for all in Jesus, Israel’s Messiah.

 

(2) Jesus speaks of another example of permitting sin for His glory.

  • Luke 22:31–32a (ESV) — 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32a but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.

 

Why did Jesus not protect Peter from the presence of sin, even allowing Satan to tempt Peter to sin?

 

Peter had a pride problem.

  • When confronted with Jesus’ warning, Peter was full of himself.
  • Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).
  • Yet, this declaration fell flat as soon as the servant girl at the gate questioned him (with John at his side).
  • John 18:17 (ESV) — 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.

 

Jesus had a use for Peter that apparently required that he be humbled and broken by his sin.

  • Jesus says as much at the end of verse 32.
  • Luke 22:32b (ESV) — 32b And when you have turned again [because Peter’s faith won’t fail him], strengthen your brothers.”
  • The path to Peter’s usefulness was through sin and the recognition of his weakness and Jesus’ strength.

 

Today we answer the final question.

  • The one we have been aiming at the last few weeks.
  • How do we live in the Extravagant Grace in which we stand?

 

 

Letting God’s Extravagant Grace Run Wild:

Our aim over the last few weeks was to recognize that we stand in God’s Extravagant Grace – even in our sin.

  • Hopefully this alone has allowed the grace in which we stand to begin to run wild.

 

Why?

  • We have identified how our works baggage clouds our view of God’s grace.
  • We have seen that we can’t not sin in the now Kingdom.
  • We have seen that God is sovereign over our sin.
  • We have seen that, therefore, our sin is not outside of God’s purposes.
  • We have seen that He actually uses it to mature us, grow our dependence, and all to His glory.

 

But there is one more thing we need to address.

  • It might be that our view of obedience hinders God’s grace.

 

How does the freedom God’s Extravagant Grace provides relate to the call to obedience?

  • Doesn’t the idea of obedience lead us back to our works baggage and religion?
  • Isn’t obedience (or better yet – sin killing) a “work”?
  • The answers are found in a grace-filled view of obedience.

 

 

Called to Obey:

First, there can be no doubt that God calls us to obedience – to kill sin.

  • John 14:15 (ESV) — 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
  • 1 John 2:3 (ESV) — 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

 

Our natural inclination is to respond to this call of obedience with lists and will power – works baggage.

  • We incorrectly see this call to obey as a responsibility dumped on us.
    • Maybe forgetting that it is “God who works in us…”.
  • The weight of the obedience dump leads to frustration and despair.
  • But we are to despair and hate sin – not obedience.

 

We need a grace filled view of obedience.

  • To that end, we need to take a look at something about the obedience that Jesus wants.

 

 

What is a Grace view of Obedience?

The Greek word “obey” (hypakouo) carries with it the idea of to “follow” or “be subject to” – BDAG.

  • In other words, to be obedient is to “follow” Christ and “be subject” to Him.

 

This certainly involves individual acts of obedience on our part (outward conformity).

  • But the “following” and “subjugation” is way more than a mere act of obedience on our part.
  • They come out of something altogether different.
  • To leave it there is to be stuck in our “works” baggage.

 

The “following” and “subjugation” are a result of the belief that comes with a regenerated heart (inward conformity).

  • Obedience, fundamentally, then is tied to our faith/belief – our inward conformity – something we have nothing to do with.
  • And by extension, tied to the place in which our faith/belief places us.
  • That place – Paul’s, “the grace in which we stand”.

 

Scriptural Examples of this Obedience:

(1) Hebrews 5:9 (ESV) — 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

  • Are we saved by our obedience?
  • Absolutely not!
  • We are saved by believing and being positionally in Christ.
  • We are saved by His obedience.

 

(2) John 3:36 (ESV) — 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

  • John treats belief and obedience as synonyms here.
  • It is not the “obeyer” that has eternal life but the “believer” (inward conformity of the heart).
  • So, likewise, it is not the one whose acts are disobedient [I have plenty of that] that is under God’s wrath, but the unbeliever whose disobedience issues forth outside of Christ.

 

Obedience even has connotations of to “hear” and to “answer a knock at the door” – BDAG.

  • Revelation 3:20 (ESV) — 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
    • Who hears the voice of Jesus?
    • Those drawn by the Spirit with reborn hearts (inward conformity) or those who have obedient actions (outward conformity)?
  • Mark 4:23 (ESV) — 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
    • Who hears?
  • Romans 11:8 (ESV) — 8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”
    • Who doesn’t hear?

 

And look at what Paul says about what he remarkably calls the “obedience of faith”.

  • Romans 1:5 (ESV) — 5 through whom [Jesus] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,
  • Romans 16:26 (ESV) — 26 but has now been disclosed [the Gospel and preaching of Jesus Christ] and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith
  • Obedience of faith are his bookends to Romans.

 

It will also help us to know this:

  • “Obey” appears in the NT 33 times.
  • “Grace” appears 124 times.

 

So a grace filled, biblical view of obedience is, firstly, the inward conformity of the heart.

  • A heart that has been given ears to hear.
  • A heart that has been reborn by the Spirit.
  • A heart that, therefore, lives in subjugation to Christ and His authority – in His now Kingdom.
  • A heart that is justified by being in Christ and in His obedience.
  • A heart that lives in the “grace in which we stand” – a new realm, a new position, a new status.

 

 

The Point:

We have a man-centered, self-powered, “works” view of obedience.

  • As such, we think the Gospel somehow requires our obedience for it to work for us.
  • We think that, “…the willingness and strength to stand in obedience come from our own diligence and hard work as we walk through life” – Barbara Duguid.
    • Remember, it is God who works in us to will and to act – Phil. 2.
  • This is works – this is religion.

 

And this wrong view of obedience even skews the value of our obedience.

  • We brashly think that even our obedient acts (“outward conformity to his will”) are without sin.
  • This is a deadly, overly optimistic, man-centered view of obedience.

 

Why?

“Obedience is tricky business and can be confusing to us. We can be obedient outwardly while sinning wildly on the inside, as the example of the Pharisees makes clear” – Barbara Duguid.

  • In fact, “[Our] outward obedience can become the framework and context for [our] inward sin” – Duguid.
    • Discuss examples.

 

Even our good deeds are seasoned with sin and selfish motives!

  • Even our obedient acts are stained by sin.
  • “In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience” – Heidelberg Catechism 114.

 

 

So Even in Our Obedience We Need Grace:

Barbara Duguid puts it like this:

“Christians thus face a seriously disturbing predicament: when we are most successful in obeying God, we so often also hear that whisper of self-exaltation and superiority. We cannot escape it. If this is true of us even in our best moments, what hope is there for us in the race toward true holiness that changes us inside and out?” – Barbara Duguid.

  • And in the pursuit of obedience, “Our problem is extensive and hopeless, for we don’t just need a moderately clean record; we need a history of perfect goodness in order to meet the demands of God’s laws” – Barbara Duguid.

 

And speaking of the older son from the Prodigal Son parable:

“There is a sobering warning to the most earnest Christians here: you may actually sin more profoundly in all of your obedience than others do in their rebellion, and you may be the one who misses the party of grace because you don’t want to go in if those ‘sinners’ are there” – Barbara Duguid.

 

BUT…

  • Obedience is not just an individual act of conformity on our part – it is way bigger than that.
  • It is something we are placed into by our Union with Christ.
  • Our attempts at obedience don’t lead to grace – it is the other way around!
  • “God is not captivated by our attempts to please him; he is riveted by the obedience of his Son and delighted by the goodness of Jesus Christ” – Barbara Duguid.
  • Through Christ’s obedience it is possible to, by grace, already be obedient in Christ and be free to act in obedience at the same time!

 

 

The Result – Living in God’s Extravagant Grace:

When we understand God’s grace…

  • Understand our sin is not outside God’s purposes…
  • Understand that even our obedience is full of sin…
  • We come to deeply understand our need for Christ and His perfect obedience.
  • And our hearts are stirred to desire outward conformity – to obey.
  • Knowing that even in our disobedience, in Christ, we are found obedient.

 

All of this should set us free to pursue obedience in the grace of God.

“This new understanding did not make me want to sin more. On the contrary, it stirred my heart to want to obey” – Barbara Duguid.

There is no sin killing by works and religion.

  • Sin killing is on God’s time and by His power.
  • Works are on our time and our power – useless.
  • Sin killing comes when we go deeper and deeper into God’s extravagant grace.
  • God’s grace and Spirit power our sin killing – not our works.

 

In fact, the world can change a person’s behavior through all sorts of counseling techniques.

  • But this is merely outward conformity.
  • It is religion.
  • It is works.

 

God wants to shape our hearts into the image of Christ.

  • God wants inward conformity.
  • This requires us being joined to Christ’s obedience.
  • This requires that we be placed in “the grace in which we stand”.

 

 

Conclusion:

Some of our deepest struggles with obedience and sin come from not properly grasping God’s grace.

“You don’t know who you are. You have a real status change. It’s really there. It’s not just in your mind. It’s not just symbolic. It really happened, and yet you don’t know who you are. That’s why it takes so long” to grow in obedience and sin killing – Tim Keller.

  • “Resisting temptation isn’t a matter of pretending you wouldn’t find it easier to give in. It’s a matter of learning to think straight, and to act on what you know to be true” – Wright.

 

But in your sin and failure to obey, know this…

“If you are united with Christ today, the number of sins you will commit in your lifetime is a finite number, and they were all paid for in full before you emerged howling from your mother’s womb” – Barbara Duguid.

 

And this…

“If all my sins are already known to God and paid for by Christ, I am free to move forward trusting that God has planned which sins I will wrestle with. He already knows how he will walk through them with me and how he will use them to teach and strengthen me. I am freed from a relentless counting of wrongs to move into whatever God has decided is next for me, confident that his grace is always greater than all my sin” – Barbara Duguid.

 

And finally, this…

“If you are in Christ you are cherished, you are washed, you are clean, and you are wrapped up tightly in the perfect robes of his goodness. Wherever you have sinned and continue to sin, he has obeyed in your place. That means that you are free to struggle and fail; you are free to grow slowly; you are free at times not to grow at all; you are free to cast yourself on the mercy of God for a lifetime. Repeated failure does not mean that you are unsaved or that God is tired of you and disappointed. It does mean that he has called you to a difficult struggle and that he will hold on to you in all of your standing and falling and bring you safely home” – Barbara Duguid

 

 

Grace in Which We Stand – Part 3

Review:

Over the past few weeks we have learned about God’s grace…

  • And how our works baggage obscures the peace, joy and freedom it can bring.

 

Specifically, we saw God’s grace as five things.

  • (1) Grace is God turning.
  • (2) Grace is God giving.
  • (3) Grace is God acting.
  • (4) Grace is God placing.
  • (5) Grace is God’s specific disposition toward those in Christ.

 

We noted that everything the believer does is within the context of this “grace in which we stand”, this extravagant grace – even our sin.

  • This fact has massive implications for the Christian life.

 

In an attempt to reveal the peace, joy and freedom…

  • As well as unearth the massive implications of living – and even sinning – within God’s grace…
  • We raised two questions concerning our sin and God’s grace.

 

(1) If the Spirit indwells us, and we are new creations being sanctified in Christ, why do we sin?

  • Is our sin outside God’s sovereignty and purposes?

 

(2) How can we grow in “the grace in which we stand” – to let it run wild – even in the midst of our sin?

 

Leaving question two for next week, we began to tackle question one.

  • We saw that question one revealed a couple of apparent disconnects between God and our sin.
  • Specifically, two disconnects that come with a “religious” view of sin.

 

The disconnects were:

(1) The presence of sin in the believer seems to be problematic in a similar way that the presence of evil in God’s good creation is problematic.

  • In other words, how does sin live in us if we are dead to sin and alive to Christ.
  • Paul says of us, “…we who died to sin” – Romans 6:2.
  • Something dead – in this case sin – has no life.
  • Yet we know full well that sin is alive in us.
    • How then is sin really dead in us?

 

(2) Moreover, if God is a good and holy, and resides in us through the Spirit, how does sin still reside in us?

  • So like the problem of evil, sin in the believer seems to discount the power and sovereignty of God.
  • We are indwelled and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • We are in Christ.
  • We participate in the fellowship of the Trinity.
  • So not only are we dead to sin, but we are new creatures with new hearts.
  • And yet, none of this seems powerful enough to rid us of the presence of sin.

 

To answer question one and address the disconnects…

  • We had to reveal and begin to cast off our works baggage.
  • Our natural inclination to be religious.
  • Our desire to “works” our way to God’s approval.
  • And to do this we had to understand Paul’s view of sin and take God’s grace as far as he does.

 

We bring misconceptions – religious/“works” based ones – to Paul and to our view of our sin.

  • Paul, in romans 6:1-11, speaks in the indicative vs. the imperative.
  • He is telling us what has been done for us, not what we are to do.
  • He is not giving us a grace contingent upon works.

 

The done work is that sin’s dominion is defeated for those in Christ.

  • We are now slaves to righteousness, not to sin.
  • Yet, sin’s presence in us is not yet vanquished – (see Romans 7).
  • We cannot not sin this side of glorification.

 

As Thomas Schreiner says:

“When Paul says we have died to sin, he is not exhorting believers to cease from sin (a command in the imperative mood); he is proclaiming to them the good news that they have died to sin (a statement of fact in the indicative mood” – Tom Schreiner.

 

Having exposed our works baggage…

  • Our natural inclinations to be religious…
  • Our resistance to let grace run wild…
  • And taken grace as far as Paul…

 

We can finally answer number 1 – why we still sin – and address the two disconnects – sin is dead but we still sin & God’s sovereignty over our sin.

 

 

Now and Not Yet Saints Who Sin:

So why do those in Christ still sin?

  • It has to do with the nature of God’s kingdom.

 

We live in a kingdom that is both now and not yet.

  • “The kingdom has come according to Matthew 12:28 and Luke 17:21; and the coming of the kingdom is still future according to Luke 19:11–12 and many other texts” – John Piper.
  • “The kingdom has been inaugurated, but not yet consummated” – Trevin Wax.
  • “The Kingdom is a present reality (Matt. 12: 28), and yet it is a future blessing (I Cor. 15: 50)” – George Ladd.

 

Quite simply, the inaugurated kingdom contains things the not yet consummated kingdom will not contain.

  • One of those things is the presence of sin in believers.
  • In the “now” kingdom, we will continue to sin.

 

Romans scholars put it as follows:

“When believers contemplate their own capacities, it is clear that they do not have the resources to do what God demands. In encountering God’s demands, we are still conscious of our wretchedness and inherent inability. The struggle with sin continues for believers because we live in the tension between the already and the not yet” – Tom Schreiner.

  • “What we were ‘in Adam’ is no more; but, until heaven, the temptation to live in Adam always remains” – Doug Moo.
  • “Complete deliverance from sin is not available for Christians until the day of redemption. Christians, precisely because they have not yet experienced full liberation from sin, are conscious of the continuing presence of sin in their lives” – Tom Schreiner.
  • “Since believers have not yet experienced the consummation of their redemption, they are keenly aware of their inherent inability to keep God’s law” – Thomas Schreiner.

 

This is why Paul says we will struggle against the temptation to “gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5).

  • This is why Paul says the following:
  • Romans 7:17–18 (ESV) — 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
  • And John says, 1 John 2:1 (ESV) — 1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

 

And Jesus spoke of a future delivery from the presence of sin.

  • Matthew 13:41 (ESV) — 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,

 

This explains why we still sin even though we live in a new realm of Grace, in Union with Christ, and have a new nature.

  • We are free from sin’s dominion (the “now” kingdom), but not free from its presence (yet to come kingdom).

 

George Ladd sums it up beautifully:

“The old age is going on, yet men may already enjoy the powers of The Age to Come. The kingdom of Satan still stands, but the Kingdom of God has invaded the kingdom of Satan. Men and women may now be delivered from this power, delivered from this bondage, delivered from the mastery of sin and death [Paul’s indicatives of Romans 6]. This deliverance is accomplished because the power of the future Kingdom of glory [Paul’s indicatives of Romans 6] has come among men in a secret, quiet form to work in their midst” – George Ladd.

 

We will give Paul the last word:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:4 (ESV) — 4 For while we are still in this tent [non-resurrection body], we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed [resurrection body], so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
  • Sin and death will be swallowed up forever in the age to come!

 

 

God’s Sovereignty – Our Sin:

Now, having understood the reasons why believers still sin…

  • We can address the issue of God’s sovereignty over our sin.
  • Does God lack the ability to purge us from the presence of sin in the “now” Kingdom of God?
  • Is our sin outside of God’s purposes?
  • Certainly not.

 

It is here, therefore, that the scandal of the Gospel and the extravagance of God’s grace are glaring.

  • God’s sovereignty demands that we admit that He allows the presence of sin to remain in us.
  • Yet, understand that He gives us the grace to kill specific sin as He sees fit.
    • More on this next week.

 

Barbara Duguid explains:

Though we are delivered from the power of sin, God leaves us “with a sinful nature that will wage war against our new nature for the remainder of our lives” – Barbara Duguid.

 

And here is the kicker:

“In the sovereign will of God, the Christian life is supposed to be this way. God is capable, when he pleases and for his own purposes, of giving me the grace to stand and resist temptation. But often he chooses instead, for his own good purposes, to show me grace through my falls, humbling me and teaching me my desperate need of him” – Barbara Duguid.

 

That God chooses to permit sin to accomplish His purposes can be seen in at least two examples.

 

(1) Paul speaks of one such example:

  • Romans 5:20 (ESV) — 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

 

N.T. Wright teases Paul’s point out for us.

“What was God up to, giving the law not simply knowing that it would give sin the chance to grow to its full height, but actually in order that it might do so?” – N.T. Wright.

 

Wright says:

  • “God wanted sin to be brought to its full height in order that he might then deal with it, condemn it, punish it once and for all” – N.T. Wright.

 

Why would God do this?

  • “In order that in the person of Israel’s representative, the Messiah, sin might be drawn onto one spot and condemned once and for all” – N.T. Wright.
  • Romans 8:3 (ESV) — 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
  • Galatians 3:22 (ESV) — 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

 

God allowed sin so He could kill its power in Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection.

  • And shower “those who believe” with the promise of faith in Jesus Christ!
  • This is grace – God acting!

 

The result:

  • Romans 5:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
  • We now live in God’s extravagant grace – even when we sin.

 

(2) Jesus speaks of another example of permitting sin for His glory.

  • Luke 22:31–32a (ESV) — 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32a but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.

 

Jesus has made it clear that, at the request of Satan, Peter will be tempted and fall into sin.

  • Incredibly, Satan’s request was to whom?
  • God allowed this to happen.

 

And notice something remarkable.

“Notice too that when Jesus prayed for Peter, he did not pray that he wouldn’t sin. Instead Jesus prayed that after Peter had sinned, his faith would not fail him…” – Barbara Duguid.

 

There is something significant going on here.

  • Why would Jesus allow this to happen?
  • Why wouldn’t he protect Peter from the presence of sin?

 

Peter had a pride and humility problem.

  • Problems that had to be addressed that Peter might be able to accomplish what God had in store for him.

 

When confronted with Jesus’ warning, Peter was full of himself.

  • Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).

 

Yet, this declaration fell flat as soon as the servant girl at the gate questioned him.

  • John 18:17 (ESV) — 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.
  • It was certainly a terrible sin for Peter to lie and abandon the precious Lamb of God in his hour of greatest suffering, yet God would once again use something that he hated to accomplish something that he loved” – Barbara Duguid.

 

Jesus had a use for Peter that apparently required that he be humbled and broken by his sin.

  • Jesus says as much at the end of verse 32.
  • Luke 22:32b (ESV) — 32b And when you have turned again [because Peter’s faith won’t fail him], strengthen your brothers.”

 

Barbara Duguid spells it our for us:

“God had big plans to use Peter in a dramatic way to build his church, but Peter wasn’t yet ready. He was too proud, too rash, too sure of himself, and far too abrasive and arrogant to minister gently and lovingly to weak and sinful sheep. He thought he was better than the rest of the disciples, declaring, “Lord, even if everyone else leaves you, I will never leave you!” (see Matt. 26:33). Peter needed to know his own sinfulness and need before he could care for God’s flock with gentleness and humility” – Barbara Duguid.

 

BTW – Importantly, there was one other incredibly important thing Peter needed to learn.

  • And it was this…
  • Though Peter denied Christ and sinned, Christ never rejected him in his sin!
  • This truth (along with the Holy Spirit) empowers the Christian walk beyond measure.

 

How do we know Peter grasped this important truth?

  • 1 Peter 1:3–7 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith [even when we deny Christ in a courtyard] for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials [including being turned over to Satan], 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Summary:

So believers still sin and God is sovereign over our sin.

  • These two truths are inseparable.
  • In fact God’s sovereignty over our sin demonstrates that the question “why do we sin” is the wrong question to ask.
  • The better question may be, “what is the purpose of our God ordained sin?”.
  • The story of Jesus and Peter has given us a clue.

 

Barbara Duguid sets up the answer and next week’s lesson.

“If you believe that God is completely sovereign over your sin and is always using it for your own good to teach you more about yourself and more of his grace, then you are free to hate your sin but love what God is doing through it” – Barbara Duguid.

 

Next week we should finish up and will deal with…

  • How we live in and embrace “the grace in which we stand”.
  • How we let God’s extravagant grace run wild…
  • Especially in the midst of our sin.

 

 

Grace in Which We Stand – Part 2

We have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand – Romans 5:2.

  • We saw last week what this grace is.

 

 

Review:

(1) Grace is God turning.

  • Grace “is always God’s turning to those who not only do not deserve this favour, but have deserved the very opposite” – Karl Barth.
  • Romans 5:9 (ESV) — 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
  • The wrath is what we deserve.

 

(2) Grace is God giving.

  • And it is God giving “nothing less than himself” – Michael Horton.
  • John 3:16 (ESV) — 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

(3) Grace is God acting.

  • It is “Jesus Christ in redeeming action” – Michael Horton.
  • Matthew 26:38–39 (ESV) — 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
  • It is the “unconstrained manner in which God acts toward his creatures” – Douglas Moo.
  • Drinking the cup of wrath is a “redeeming action” of Jesus Christ.
  • As well as just about everything from His incarnation, to His crucifixion, to His Resurrection.

 

(4) Grace is God placing.

  • It is God placing us in “the realm in which grace reigns” – Douglas Moo.
  • This realm has eschatological implications.
  • Acts 20:32 (ESV) — 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

 

(5) Grace is God’s disposition.

  • It is God’s beneficent disposition to the elect – BDAG.
  • Beneficent – “conferring benefits” upon.
  • Romans 8:29–30 (ESV) — 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

We noted that everything the believer does is within the context of this “grace in which we stand”, this extravagant grace – even our sin.

  • But we obscure much of the joy, hope and freedom this grace brings.
  • The obscuring coming from things like bad “legalistic-too-much-law” teaching, and personal or cultural baggage – like performance equals approval.

 

This baggage has unfortunate consequences in the believer’s life.

  • We pull back on the reins of God’s extravagant grace, as if afraid to let it run wild in our lives.

 

Barbara Duguid describes the consequences this way:

“Everywhere I go I meet Christians who are depressed, anxious, and discouraged because they still sin…Every now and then they attend a retreat or hear a sermon, and with renewed energy and determination, they make a plan to beat this sin once and for all. They pray and fast, they memorize Scripture and attend accountability groups, they write in journals [will-power sin fighting]. For a while, it seems to work and things get better. But before long, their old sin creeps back in and once again wins the day. Only now it is even worse than before. Now discouragement wells up like a tsunami of shame as hope of real change is shattered once again” – Barbara Duguid.

 

This picture of the Christian life is not the one Paul describes in Romans and elsewhere.

  • When God’s grace runs wild – even in our sin – the joy, hope and freedom it brings is ours for the taking.
  • We never sin outside of God’s extravagant grace!
  • Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom” – 2 Cor. 3:17.

 

All of this raises two important questions.

 

(1) If the Spirit indwells us, and we are new creations being sanctified in Christ, why do we sin?

  • Is our sin outside God’s sovereignty and purposes?
  • Jesus tells the women at the well to “go and sin no more”.
  • And Paul says things like, “the old self was crucified” that we might be “no longer enslaved to sin”.
  • And that we “have become slaves of righteousness” and are not longer slaves to sin.

 

(2) How can we grow in “the grace in which we stand” – to let it run wild – even in the midst of our sin?

  • For as we saw, even our sin is within the context of God’s extravagant grace.
  • “Perhaps our greatest problem is not the reality of our sin, but our unbiblical expectations of what Christian growth should look like [the baggage]. What if growing in grace is more about humility, dependence, and exalting Christ than it is about defeating sin?” – Barbara Duguid.

 

Today I want to provide the background to answer question number one.

 

 

Framing Question One:

It is hard to let God’s grace run wild when we misunderstand our sin and God’s grace.

  • We need to Biblically understand our relationship to sin.
  • We need to cast off some “works” baggage.
  • We need to dispel any notion that we can stop sinning (before our glorification).
    • In contrast to holiness denominations like Nazarenes.
  • We need to take grace as far as Paul does – where he asks, “are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
    • This is the grace that runs wild!

 

So question one…If the Spirit indwells us, and we are new creations being sanctified in Christ, why do we sin? Is our sin outside God’s sovereignty?

  • These questions highlight an apparent disconnect between who we are and what we do.
  • They do so in at least two ways.

 

(1) The presence of sin in the believer seems to be problematic in a similar way that the presence of evil in God’s good creation is problematic.

  • In other words, how does sin live in us if we are dead to sin and alive to Christ.
  • Paul says of us, “…we who died to sin” – Romans 6:2.
  • Something dead – in this case sin – has no life.
  • Yet we know full well that sin is alive in us.
    • How then is sin really dead in us?

 

(2) Moreover, if God is a good and holy, and resides in us through the Spirit, how does sin still reside in us?

  • So like the problem of evil, sin in the believer seems to discount the power and sovereignty of God.
  • We are indwelled and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • We are in Christ.
  • We participate in the fellowship of the Trinity.
  • So not only are we dead to sin, but we are new creatures with new hearts.
  • And yet, none of this seems powerful enough to rid us of the presence of sin.

 

So to answer our question, we need to address both of these problems.

  • The way to answer our question and address both of these problems is to…
  • Understand Paul in Romans 5-7 through the lens of God’s extravagant grace
  • And thereby cast off the works/performance baggage that obscures it.

 

 

Indicative vs. Imperative – Casting off Works Baggage:

Let’s expose our “works” baggage.

  • Romans 6:1–2 (ESV) — 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
  • Romans 6:6–7 (ESV) — 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

 

How do we typically apply the above verses?

  • What do they appear to teach?
  • Especially in light of what Jesus said to the women at the well – “go and sin no more”.
  • It looks like he is saying grace calls us to works – to not sin.

 

Paul goes on to apply his verses for us:

  • Romans 6:12–15 (ESV) — 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

 

What do we make of his application?

  • What does he seem to be saying?
  • Is he agreeing with our “works” baggage or overturning it?
  • Again, it looks like he is saying that those standing in grace are called to works – to not sin.

 

In order to make sure we don’t misinterpret these verses…

  • We need to consider a distinction Paul makes throughout Romans.

 

Paul is teaching the outworking and implications of the Gospel for believers.

  • He is telling us what has been “done” – the indicative – by Christ’s work (death, burial, resurrection).
  • And he is telling us what this “done” work of Christ means for us.
  • He is not giving us a Christian version of the law to follow!
  • He is not giving us a to do list.

 

We need to unpack this just a bit.

 

N.T. Wright frames it this way:

  • He says Paul is taking the story of the Exodus from the bondage of Egypt…
  • Israel’s receiving of the law at Sinai in the Mosaic covenant…
  • Their passing through the waters of the Red Sea and Jordan to the Promised Land.
  • And is retelling the story around the new Moses – Jesus Christ!

 

He says the new story is this:

“Romans 6 describes how Christians come through the water of baptism [the Red Sea and Jordan River] and thus leave behind the land of slavery and enter upon a new freedom (like leaving Egypt and setting off for the promised land)” – N.T. Wright.

 

This is the grace in which we now walk.

  • It is a total change in the realm in which we live!
  • In Christ we have left the wilderness and come back into the Garden – back into the Promised Land.
  • We are there and remain there whether we sin or not.
  • It is not a conditional covenant!

 

So Romans 6 is not about Paul giving us marching orders; it is about the new realm of grace in which we stand.

  • Romans 5:2 (ESV) — 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand [Eden and the Promised Land in Christ], and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
  • Romans 5:17 (ESV) — 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
  • For sin will have no dominion over you [the wilderness], since you are not under law but under grace” – Romans 6:14.

 

Romans scholars put it like this:

“When Paul says we have died to sin, he is not exhorting believers to cease from sin (a command in the imperative mood); he is proclaiming to them the good news that they have died to sin (a statement of fact in the indicative mood” – Tom Schreiner.

  • “…In becoming a Christian you move from one type of humanity to the other [law/wilderness to grace/promised land], and you should never think of yourself in the original mode again” – N.T. Wright.
  • “Grace does not simply involve forgiveness of sins; it also involves a transfer of lordship, so that believers are no longer under the tyranny of sin [the law and the wilderness]” – Tom Schreiner.
  • “What has been shattered is not the presence of sin but the mastery of sin over believers” – Tom Schreiner.

 

We have been planted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and have a new status in Christ so we are no longer growing in religion, the law, sin and works but in Christ – N.T. Wright.

  • And importantly, “It is impossible to go back to Egypt” – N.T. Wright.
  • Even in our sin!

 

So sin is really dead in us.

  • Because we are not in ourselves anymore, but in Christ, in the new realm, in the Promised Land, in God’s extravagant grace.
  • In this place, sin’s dominion is dead.
  • With respect to sin we, “are free from its power, tyranny, mastery, and dominion” – Tom Schreiner.

 

This is why salvation is not by works.

  • This is why the Gospel is good news!
  • This is why the Gospel is so scandalous.

 

This is why when the Gospel is rightly taught people think we are casting off moral restraint and that we are antinomian (against the law).

“This is, once more, a charge he must have met quite often, not least from Jews and Jewish Christians who, on hearing that he regarded Christians as free from the law [works/Sinai/wilderness], worried quite naturally that they would cast off all moral restraint” – N.T. Wright.

 

As James Boice points out, this fear is “the argument of religious people”.

  • It is the argument brought by those who are carrying works/law baggage.
  • It is not the argument of from those basking in God’s extravagant grace.

 

Next week we will answer the two questions we raised and address the disconnects we observed.

 

 

 

Grace in Which We Stand – Part 1

Romans 5:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

 

There is an enormous amount of joy, hope and freedom to be found “in this grace in which we stand”.

  • This grace” has huge ramifications for all parts of the Christian life – from personal suffering and sin, to our identity in Christ, to relationships and our corporate life in the church, to our future in Christ’s now and not yet Kingdom.

 

However, we have obscured much of this joy, hope and freedom.

  • The obscuring has come from a number of things – bad “legalistic-too-much-law” teaching, and personal or cultural baggage – like performance equals approval.
  • A particular area where this baggage obscures “this grace in which we stand” relates to our sin and struggles to defeat it.

 

Barbara Duguid frames the problem well:

“Everywhere I go I meet Christians who are depressed, anxious, and discouraged because they still sin…Every now and then they attend a retreat or hear a sermon, and with renewed energy and determination, they make a plan to beat this sin once and for all. They pray and fast, they memorize Scripture and attend accountability groups, they write in journals [will-power sin fighting]. For a while, it seems to work and things get better. But before long, their old sin creeps back in and once again wins the day. Only now it is even worse than before. Now discouragement wells up like a tsunami of shame as hope of real change is shattered once again” – Barbara Duguid.

 

This feature of the Christian life can wreak havoc.

  • It can lead to a doubting of the truth of the Gospel.
  • And this cycle of failure can lead to more and more sin.
  • We sin; we fail to overcome; we feel shame; we punish ourselves with more sin – J. Budziszewski.

 

Given that this sin seems to contradict the Christian life…

  • She asks what we all have asked.
  • “So why do real Christians still sin so much, even after they have been saved for decades?”
  • She rhetorically says, “If sanctification is all about us sinning less and less, then we would have to conclude that the Holy Spirit isn’t doing his job very well” – Barbara Duguid.
  • Not a good place to be!

 

BTW – She is talking just as much about our “secret inward” sin as she is about our outward sin.

  • Christians are expert illusionists.
  • We can look great on the outside.
  • But the inside is a mess – lust, porn, covetousness, envy, hate, worry, dissatisfaction, pride, etc.

 

She suggests:

  • “Perhaps our greatest problem is not the reality of our sin, but our unbiblical expectations of what Christian growth should look like [the baggage]. What if growing in grace is more about humility, dependence, and exalting Christ than it is about defeating sin?” – Barbara Duguid.

“It is a radical and almost frightening thought to see that God is actually as much at work in our worst moments of sin and defeat as he is in our best moments of shining obedience” – Barbara Duguid.

 

We need to get this right because…

  • I think a lot of us are very confused by our sin.
  • Though this is true – Romans 6:1–2 (ESV) — 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
  • This is also true – Romans 7:19 (ESV) — 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

 

The point:

There is a profound relationship between God’s grace and a believer’s sin that, when rightly understood, has an awesome power to redeem our sin and point us to Christ – and ultimately lead to sin killing.

 

So both as a “kind of” intro to Romans (Romans is filled with grace), and as effort to renew our minds (Romans) and hearts, we are going to spend a few weeks challenging our views of God’s grace.

  • Specifically, its implications for our sin and identity in Christ – the two are inseparable.
  • Sin always effects who we think we are.

 

 

What Grace?

The first thing we need to do is understand what we are talking about when we speak of “this grace in which we stand”.

  • Obviously, Paul is talking about the special grace in which the believer lives, not the common grace in which all humanity lives.

 

What is common grace?

  • Most well known from Matthew 5.
  • Matthew 5:45 (ESV) — 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

 

It is “responsible for a variety of benefits to all people indiscriminatingly” – Michael Horton.

  • “It is a restraint on sin” – Michael Horton.
  • It is “a restraint on God’s own wrath” – Michael Horton.
  • It is an inherent motivation for “the practice of virtues” and “worthy tasks” – John Murray.

 

What is special grace – Romans 5:2 grace?

  • Importantly, it is not a substance – Michael Horton.
  • It is not eaten or drank – something akin to Catholic belief.
  • Far from it.

 

What it is:

This grace contains at least the following five truths:

 

(1) Grace is God turning.

Grace “is always God’s turning to those who not only do not deserve this favour, but have deserved the very opposite” – Karl Barth.

  • Romans 5:9 (ESV) — 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
  • The wrath is what we deserve.

 

(2) Grace is God giving.

  • And it is God giving “nothing less than himself” – Michael Horton.
  • John 3:16 (ESV) — 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

(3) Grace is God acting.

  • It is “Jesus Christ in redeeming action” – Michael Horton.
  • Matthew 26:38–39 (ESV) — 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

It is the “unconstrained manner in which God acts toward his creatures” – Douglas Moo.

  • Drinking the cup of wrath is a “redeeming action” of Jesus Christ.
  • As well as just about everything from His incarnation, to His crucifixion, to His Resurrection.

 

(4) Grace is God placing.

  • It is God placing us in “the realm in which grace reigns” – Douglas Moo.
  • This realm has eschatological implications.
  • Acts 20:32 (ESV) — 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

 

(5) Grace is God’s disposition.

  • It is God’s beneficent disposition to the elect – BDAG.
  • Beneficent – “conferring benefits” upon.
  • Romans 8:29–30 (ESV) — 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

Paul hits on all of these in Titus.

  • Titus 3:4–7 (ESV) — 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 

How does this text contain all the aspects of grace we just described?

  • God’s turning is found in his “goodness and loving kindness” – mercy.
  • God’s giving is found when “our Savior appeared”.
  • God’s acting is found in the “regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” and the “poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior”.
  • God’s placing is found in that we are now “heirs”.
  • God disposition, His “conferring benefits”, is found in all of it, but especially in that we are now “justified by his grace” and have the “hope of eternal life”.

 

So where does this leave us?

  • We have to remember that everything the believer thinks or does is in context of God’s grace.

As believers, as those in Union with Christ, as those who have been placed into God’s inheritance as heirs, nothing we do is outside of this context – God’s grace.

 

This means that even our sin is in the context of God’s turning, God’s giving, God’s acting, God’s placing and God’s disposition – God’s grace.

  • This theological truth has profound consequences for the Christian life.
  • I want us to come to grips with these consequences.
  • I want us to come to grips with God’s “Extravagant Grace” – Duguid.

 

 

Genesis 3:20-24 – Grace in Judgment

Genesis 3:20–24 (ESV) — 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

 

This seems to be a weird collection of verses.

  • Both in its position in the chapter – it seems out of place.
  • And in its content – verse 20, e.g., seems an awkward verse to come after verse 19.
  • Moreover, the text comes across more as a commentary – an aside to the judgment texts.

 

I think by understanding the text and what it is telling us – everything will come into focus.

  • Especially when we see how prevalent grace is.

 

 

Naming of Eve (vs. 20):

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”

 

Gordon Wenham gets us started.

“What prompted the man to call his wife ‘Life’ especially at this juncture in the story? It comes immediately after the curses announcing man’s mortality (v 19), the pains of childbirth (v 16), and the struggle of the woman’s seed with the snake (v 15)” – Wenham.

 

So what we have is a sudden and massive change in tone.

  • In the midst of the judgment and curses – especially the decree that death awaits Adam and Eve – we are told that Adam named his wife “the mother of all living”.
  • Eve’s name in Hebrew, ḥawwâ, apparently finds its origin from the word ḥāyâ which means “to live” – DOT.
  • This seems in opposition to the death that awaits them.

 

What is going on here?

  • There are at least three choices.

 

1) Exercising Headship

  • This is the most common view.
  • The idea is that in naming his wife “Eve”, Adam is demonstrating his authority over her.
  • “Adam’s naming the woman is his exercise of responsible headship” – Kenneth Mathews.

 

However, this meaning doesn’t seem to flow from the context that precedes it.

  • Moreover, there is an ancient debate concerning who is superior over whom in the Genesis narrative.
  • “Historical Judaism traditionally argues for the superiority of the man (see Gen. Rab. 18.2), as does Islam (see Al-Baghawi, Mishkat al-Masabili). The Talmud, however, argues for the superiority of the woman (Sanh. 39a)” – DOT.

 

2) Act of Faith

  • In spite of the death sentence leveled at Adam and Eve, Adam seems to understand that God has more in store for humanity.
  • As we saw last week, there are some reversals that need to be remedied.
  • Therefore, “Adam’s naming is an act of faith on his part. Though threatened by death Adam does not believe that he and his wife are to be the first and last beings of the human race. Motherhood will emerge” – Victor Hamilton.

 

Does this make sense in light of the judgment texts before it?

 

3) Continuance of Life

  • Even though death will befall them, they will live on through their offspring.
  • Life will continue, as they are obedient to be fruitful and multiply.
  • Moreover, “She was the source of the ‘seed’ (v. 15) that would eventually defeat the serpent and restore life” – Apologetics Study Bible.

 

Does this make sense in light of the judgment texts before it?

 

 

Making Garments (vs. 21):

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

 

A number of commentators point out that this text has God making (asa) again.

  • He had rested, but is now at work again.

 

Their point is this.

“Adam and Eve are in need of a salvation that comes from without. God needs to do for them what they are unable to do for themselves” – Victor Hamilton.

  • In other words, God’s making of the garments is His first act of grace shown to Adam and Eve after the fall.

 

We also need to keep in mind that Adam and Eve are about to be expelled from the garden.

  • The vulnerability – both spiritual and physical – they were made with is about to exist within a context it wasn’t originally made for.
  • Once naked and unashamed (in Garden), they are now naked and ashamed (outside Garden).

 

But, God intercedes on their behalf – even in the midst of His judgment – and shows grace.

  • “It is important for understanding the drift of this chapter that we note that the clothing precedes the expulsion from the garden. God’s act of grace comes before his act of judgment” – Hamilton.

“This provision should probably be seen as an act of grace by God, preparing them for the more difficult environment he is sending them into and providing a remedy for their newly developed shame” – Walton.

 

BTW – Gordon Wenham disagrees with the garments as grace approach.

  • “In this context God’s provision of clothes appears not so much an act of grace, as often asserted, but as a reminder of their sinfulness (cf. Calvin, 1:182). Just as man may not enjoy a direct vision of God, so God should not be approached by man unclothed” – Wenham.

 

 

What about the texts connection to animal sacrifice?

  • As the ESV Study Bible points out:

“Because God provides garments to clothe Adam and Eve, thus requiring the death of an animal to cover their nakedness, many see a parallel here related to (1) the system of animal sacrifices to atone for sin later instituted by God through the leadership of Moses in Israel, and (2) the eventual sacrificial death of Christ as an atonement for sin”.

 

There is actually disagreement about this.

  • The Hebrew text used here points clearly to literal, real clothing needed for protection outside of the Garden.
  • “It is probably reading too much into this verse to see in the coats of skin a hint of the use of animals and blood in the sacrificial system of the OT cultus” – Hamilton.
  • Maybe this is trying too hard not to read something into the text.

 

Kenneth Mathews points out this about the word for “garment”…

  • “This is another lexical link with the symbols of the tabernacle, where the priest must be properly clothed before God in the administration of his service” – Mathews.
  • He goes on to point out that…
  • “Since the garden narrative shares in tabernacle imagery, it is not surprising that allusion to animal sacrifice is found in the garden too” – Mathews.

 

In other words, we have already seen the Garden is a sacred space that requires sacred service.

  • And in our verses today, we see additional tabernacle imagery with the introduction the cherubim.
  • He placed the cherubim” (vs. 24).

 

Cherubim are associated with the tabernacle all throughout the OT.

  • “The placing of cherubim to the east of the garden is reflected in the tabernacle and temple, where cherubim were an important component in the structure and furnishings” – ESV Study Bible.
  • So it is not a stretch to see tabernacle sacrifice imagery behind God’s provision of the garments.
  • It fits.

 

BTW – there may be here an indication of the need for the law.

  • Something else “made” by God.

 

In Adam and Eve’s naked and unashamed state (vulnerability in the Garden), they had great freedom.

  • They only had one prohibition.

 

But, in their naked and ashamed state (vulnerability outside of Garden), there was a need for covering.

  • The garments covered them physically.
  • The law would cover them spiritually?

 

 

Like One of Us (vs. 22):

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—

 

There is widespread agreement on this verse.

  • It is not expressing a fear that God now has a rival.
  • Remember the context – God alone is creator of everything and He alone can “reverse” creation.
  • “God’s admission that the man ‘has become like one of Us’ does not indicate that the serpent’s suggestion that God was insecure about His position was correct” – Apologetics Study Bible.

 

Kenneth Mathews put’s it like this:

God’s word here “is not one of fear of usurpation but rather of sympathy for the misery the first couple must endure and an assurance that their pitiful state is not consigned for eternity” – Mathews.

 

In other words, God is recognizing the severity of Adam and Eve’s current condition.

  • They are in risk of being immortal sinners – “live forever”.
  • And, in grace, He is about to provide a remedy for it.

 

 

Driven Out (vs. 23-24):

Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

 

1) The remedy for the severity of Adam and Eve’s situation was an act of grace.

  • God, as part of his judgment against Adam and Eve, “drove out the man”.
  • He did this so they could not eat of “the tree of life”.
  • In their nakedness and shame, God makes sure they don’t live this way forever.
  • “Taken in the broader context of Scripture, driving the man and his wife out of the garden was an act of merciful grace to prevent them from being sustained forever by the tree of life” – John MacArthur.

 

2) God’s act of driving them out, however, was also traumatic.

  • The Hebrew for “drove out” is a much stronger term than “sent him out” – Wenham.
  • In fact, it is the same phrase used to describe “the expulsion of the inhabitants of Canaan” – Wenham.
  • Even more harsh, is that the same phrase carries the idea of divorce as well.

 

3) Adam’s future is decided by God’s decree.

  • The use of this language makes clear that just as God put Adam in the Garden.
  • Adam’s expulsion was God’s work – Adam could not stay of his own will.

 

4) And we have to remember that the expulsion was also judgment.

  • “Outside the garden, man is distant from God and brought near to death” – Wenham.
  • “Removal from the safety of the garden [is] exposure to a life of severity and uncertainty” – Hamilton.
  • “The original tasks given to both Adam and Eve (keeping the garden, being fruitful and multiplying) now involve difficulty because they live outside Eden” – Heiser.

 

This expulsion makes it a certainty that Adam will return to the ground from which He came.

  • The dust outside of the Garden.
  • This means, of course, that all of us (sons of Adam) will also die.

 

Moreover, the couple, like Israel for years to come, is driven out to the East in judgment.

  • Disobedience leads to exile to the east throughout the OT.
  • Just as God put out Adam He puts out Israel for disobedience.
  • But as He put Adam into the Garden, in Genesis, God would soon bring Abram out of the East and put him back into the Promise Land.
  • Yet another act of grace and covenant faithfulness.
  • Actions that ultimately bring us Jesus.

 

Genesis 3 Summary:

“The serpent held out to the couple the prospect that being like God would bring with it unlimited privileges, unheard-of acquisitions and gifts. Alas, rather than experiencing bliss, they encounter misery. Rather than sitting on a throne, they are expelled from the garden. Rather than new prerogatives, they experience only a reversal. The couple not only fail to gain something they do not presently have; the irony is that they lose what they currently possess: unsullied fellowship with God. They found nothing and lost everything” – Victor Hamilton.

  • “Is it not surprising in a chapter of the Bible so widely accepted as mythical that we find the classical outline of salvation history rather than myths? God acts and speaks; man rebels; God punishes; God protects and reconciles” – Victor Hamilton.