Admittedly, the blog has been a little sparse lately…but here’s the notes from last night, as we continued our study of Paul’s letter to the Romans by looking at chapters 1 and 6:
We looked at the concept of freedom Paul was working with. This doesn’t seem to be the main thing Paul was thinking about when he was writing these passages, but it was clearly something he assumed. Since the culture we live in tends to assume the opposite things about freedom (than those Paul was assuming), it’s important to see what his assumptions are, and how they differ from our norms, so that we can correct our understanding and understand Paul’s reasoning.
1. The Wrath of God is Shown in a Certain Kind of “Freedom” – 1:18-32
Notice the expressions of freedom in this chapter:
- People freely think certain things: 1:18, 21, 28, 32
- God gives them freedom to follow the desires of their heart: 1:24, 26, 27, 28
- They then use their freedom to act out their desires, with disastrous results: 1:24, 27, 28, 29-31
So: When God allows us the freedom to feel whatever we want, and the freedom to pursue those feelings without being hindered, it is not a sign of his approval, but of his wrath. This is because, when we turn away from him, we have no source of life or goodness, and our hearts can only produce wickedness. Therefore the things we end up doing totally degrade and hurt us. We lower ourselves and twist ourselves, with the result that we end up far below what we were created to be. This is partly a result of our actions, and partly a result God’s wrath on our evil actions.
If this is the case, what is freedom?
2. Our whole concept of Freedom needs to be rethought – Ch. 6
- The expressions of freedom in chapter 1 are actually slavery to sin: 6:6, 7, 12-14, 16, 19, 20, 21
So: what feels like self-determinism is actually sin-rule ( see John 8:31-36, Proverbs 5:21-23, 2 Peter 2:18-19)
Why? We can’t escape this rule. It’s impossible. It’s just the way things are.
- Salvation is partly being freed from this slavery: 6:6-7, 12, 14, 18, 22
- To get free from Sin, you become a slave/servant of righteousness, or of God: 6:16-19, 22
- Serving God is life (6:22), Slavery to sin is death. (6:23) What freedom is there in pursuing death?
Why would God do it this way? Because of what we were created to be and do. We were created to know God, to be totally connected to him relationally. We were created to be like Christ: able to know and communicate with the Father in all his love, and to rule creation with and for him. (But see Genesis 4:7) In other words: we were created to be like God–free to live and rule (see Genesis 1:26, Revelation 22:5) , and free from the ruining effects of evil.
To be free is to be set free to be who we truly are.
To be free is to be alive, forever, to know God and live in the fullness he created us for.
- Non-believers: Understand that God’s word says that our thoughts about freedom are messed up. We’ve believed a lie that we will be better off chasing what we want and excluding God. But it’s not true. And it leads to death.
- Believers: We should examine our own thinking to see where this wrong view of freedom has crept in to our lives. Do we see freedom the way God describes?
How would we know if this is the case? – Do we struggle to want to live according to God’s commands? Do we feel bad sharing them with people?