In Romans 6:1 Paul asks the following as a follow up to his previous point, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Chapter five explained that through Adam sin entered the world, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Sin is the breaking of law. “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” There was offense before the covenant given through Moses. Sin was in the world, and death by that sin. Adam sinned by breaking the law of God. His sin brought death to all men. Therefore, when the covenant came through Moses, it came to show man offense. “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Where law came and showed me my offense, Christ came to justify me by His grace. By fulfilling the prophetic word, Christ, the Son of God, established a new covenant based on better promises. Therefore, I am no longer without justification, because the blood of Christ redeems me from my sin.
This leads us to the question that Paul asks. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Salvation comes by grace through Jesus Christ (that is certainly what Romans 5 teaches us), and when sin abounded in me, Jesus’ grace abounded more. Paul takes this truth one step further: if I’m saved by grace through Jesus Christ only, then what does it matter what I do? Does not my sin allow God to show forth His mighty power by saving the vilest of sinners?
Certainly NOT! Paul states, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Though God’s grace can cover even the most egregious of sins, it is not a free pass to sin. God’s grace does not allow us to remain justified while continuing a life contrary to the heavenly Father’s will. “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” When we confess Jesus to be the Son of God, and are immersed in the likeness of His death, we are no longer free to practice the lifestyle we once practiced. There is a new covenant governing our lives.
What we do in this life matters. The thoughts we think, the actions we take, the words we say; God is interested in, desirous of, and demanding our service. If we are going to accept His grace, and be justified freely by His Son’s blood, we cannot expect to choose our own way to salvation. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” This newness of life is explained further on in the same passage; verse 13 states, “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness.” What was the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice except to free us from our sin and its eternal consequences! It was not so we could continue to be enslaved in sin.
This may seem to be a very elementary point: we are not free to continue in sin that grace may abound. However, this is a prevailing form of false doctrine. If we say we are saved by grace alone, or that God has already determined the saved from the unsaved, are we not presenting ourselves with the freedom to continue in sin? When we discount the realities of hell in favor of a God who loves unconditionally and without reproach, are we not allowing ourselves the pleasures of sin so that “grace may abound?”
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” We have a choice to make. Who do we want to obey? If we expect God to accept us without condition and in whatever evil state we live our lives, we are going to be sorely surprised. Galatians 2:17 explains that Christ is not a minister of sin. We should not expect Him to judge us righteous if our lives are lived as slaves to sin.
But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:17-23)
What does it mean to be a slave of God? What is the “fruit to holiness” spoken of in verse 22? Is it really in accordance with God to say that His grace alone saves me? Do I misrepresent truth when I say nothing affects my eternal destiny, because an all loving God cannot possibly condemn His creation to Hell? Will God justify me if I am unwilling to bury my sins with me in baptism? Consider these questions while you study through this chapter. I look forward to your comments.