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Will it be Grace or Sin?

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. (Net Bible)

Are we to remain in sin that grace may increase? I will bet your answer is of course not. No way does grace give license to sin. We have a clear obligation to stop sinning don’t we? We are Christians after all. We are about the job of putting to death the deeds of the flesh are we not? I take it you then agree with Paul’s, “Absolutely not!” No way should we continue to sin so that grace might increase period. But what does Paul mean when he continues with “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Let me ask you. How can you live in sin if you have died to sin? You see Paul believes that to ask the question “are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?” is absolutely absurd in face of what God has accomplished and provided to us.

For a moment let’s assume that I have an obligation to drive within the speed limit. The law sets the limit and sets out penalties for violating those limits. I am caught speeding and I get a ticket. I owe a fine and it is a big one. Before I pay the fine I die. Lucky me! What power does the law have over me? Now that I am dead it has no power at all. The courts don’t collect fines from dead men. How silly is that? If I was sentenced to death for a murder and I die before they put me in the electric chair, will they then try to electrocute me. No, you say. Absurd, you say. Paul agrees.

What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? Paul is saying what an absurd question. You are dead. The law can no longer reach you and where there is no law, there is no sin. It is as though by some gracious act of Congress all the laws are set aside because you are in some way dead while still walking this earth. No Congress would be that gracious, but we can dream a little can’t we?

We have died those of us who have accepted God’s gracious gift of His Son. When we were baptized into Christ we were baptized into His death. We died and were reborn, not of the law, but of the Spirit into a new life, a life free from sin and free from the law that judges that sin. It was God’s grace that put us in this state of sinlessness and it is His grace that maintains us in that state where there is no longer any condemnation by God toward us. Sin cannot increase because it is grace that has put an end to the power of sin in our lives. “1John 3:9 Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God.” (Net Bible)

Much of the time we Christians are not living the life Christ has provided for us. We walk in constant fear about every deed done, or not done. We judge our acts, are they worthy or not. We constantly plead with God to accept our behavior, or to forgive it. We hedge our life with rules and expectations, with activities and with obligations. We do our disciplines with a futile hope that we are pleasing to God and what does it get us? Certainly not more grace. Much of the time we feel that God has abandoned us. Our lives feel empty and futile. Where is the joy? Our joy has gotten swallowed by the curse of the law that we insist on living under. How can we who died to sin still live in it? Paul thinks such a state is absurd in the face of God’s grace through the Cross.

We read these verses and we get it backwards. Grace trumps sin every time. It is a done deal. When we read those verses as a challenge to stop sinning we deny God’s grace that has already put an end to the principle of sin in us. We are dead folks. We can’t get any deader as far as God is concerned. We died when Christ died and we died when we allowed Him to enter into our very being joining His life to ours. “It is no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me…” Do you get that? My actions, my thoughts, my life is directed by Christ Himself, not me. I may feel like I am in charge, but I am not. My flesh falls back on its old habits and I know that, and I also know that those habits have no lasting effect over my life. I am directed by God’s spirit and no longer by Satan’s. Grace has truly set me free from the life I lived before of sin and death.

Paul thinks us absurd when we confuse our life in Christ with the old life under the influence of Satan. He thinks our confusion about sin and grace is silly in the face of the real death we have experienced.

We are truly free of the law, we died. Let us live by God’s Spirit. Do the things you do and enjoy them. Live life knowing, that what you do and who you are, cannot
be separated from Jesus Himself expressing Himself through you. You are dead to the law and the sin it empowers. You are alive in Christ and His Spirit that fulfills the law in you. Know the joy that only grace can bring.

Categories: Sin
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