Romans 6:1-2. 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?
I heard Romans 6:1-2a many times in church growing up. Can we just keep sinning? God forbid it! Stop sinning. Do it now.
But looking back, even though I heard Romans 6:1-2a many times, I’m not sure I ever remember being told about Romans 6:2b (and the rest of the chapter or the whole book for that matter). Somehow a passage that is the greatest discourse on grace ever written got turned into law. Somehow the solution to sin was turned into my efforts, my righteousness, my attitude toward it.
But the truth is there is only one solution to sin. Death.
As we saw yesterday there will always be law and so there will always be sin. And where sin abounds grace abounds even more. So the law does its job when it reveals our deep sinfulness, because only then are we ready to embrace the abounding grace of God.
The logical follow up question, then, is the one Paul anticipates here: Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
Let’s back up for a moment. First let’s ask this question: If I am fully pardoned and justified and in Christ, will I keep sinning? The answer is of course, yes. And you will still be forgiven, pardoned, reconciled, justified, redeemed and in Christ. Why? Because Christ died FOR you (Romans 1-5).
OK, next question. If sin makes grace abound, should I try to sin more so that God’s grace abounds more? Answer: By no means!
This question (assuming it’s genuine) demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the grace plan. To the person who is still trying to earn their righteousness by law keeping, the idea of abounding, never ending, constant forgiveness and pardon seems like the most ridiculous solution to sin God could ever contrive. To those whose hope is self-righteousness, grace is simply more license. I have been personally told by some in my church that if I keep teaching too much grace people will just sin more and more.
We are freaked out by the freedom of grace. We just don’t know what to do without law. What will regulate our behavior? What will control our lusts? What will manage our conscience? Abounding grace is chaos isn’t it? Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.
Why should we stop sinning? Is it because we owe it to God to not sin. If he died FOR our sins, shouldn’t we pay him back with good behavior? Is it because it is the morally righteous thing to do? So be good for goodness’ sake (Santa Claus)? Is it because we can achieve perfection this side of Heaven? Is it because we’re still under the law? Is it because if we sin God will “get us?” Or we will lose our salvation?
The answer to why we stop sinning is found only in the grace of our union with Christ and his death. How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Died to sin? When did that happen? It happened at the moment you placed your saving faith in Christ and were united to his life. And it happened 2000 years ago on the cross of Christ. You were crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). Past tense.
We didn’t die FOR our own sins (Jesus did that), we died TO sin.
And so we are about to journey into the fullness of grace. It’s true that a grace that only says, “Jesus died FOR you,” and “You are forever forgiven,” would probably lead to more and more sinning.
But this is not all that the grace of union with Christ says. It also says “You have died to sin.” It is now therefore impossible that you could still live in it. A dead person can’t walk around as if alive. A person who died to sin can’t live in sin.
Listen I know your mind is racing and you’re probably thinking “If I died to sin and it’s impossible for me to live in sin then why do I still sin?”
And so herein is the truth that Romans 6-8 will make known and that we will reveal here now: THE FACT THAT YOU DIED TO SIN MUST BE DISTINGUISHED FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE OF SINNING. God declares you dead to sin. His righteousness is imputed. I know your experience of deliverance from sin does not seem to line up with this truth. Please trust in what God says about you, not in what your experience of deliverance from sin seems to say about you. Trust that “to live is Christ” is a declaration not an experience. This is abounding grace in all it’s fullness.
How does your union with Christ impact the way you see your sin? What has been your motivation for not sinning? Has it been your co-crucifixion with Christ?
How does an Exodus song relate to Romans 6:1-2?