Romans 6:11. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Look at the last three words of Romans 6:11. In Christ Jesus.
This is the formula for our entire life. These three words are the answer to all of life’s questions including the question Paul began this chapter with: are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!
Anyone that believes that grace gives them a blank check for sinning simply does not understand their union with Christ. Which means they lack an understanding of what salvation actually is. Salvation is not a “get out of jail free” card. It is not freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Salvation is union with the person of Christ. Therefore it is union with Love.
Our union with Christ is an unbreakable union. It is a uniting of our life to Jesus’ own life – his perfect love. We are not saved in order to keep our own old life going forever. As we have seen here in Romans 6, that life died. The old man has been crucified with Christ. We are saved into something beyond us as an individual. Our union with Christ’s life makes us part of the Body of Christ, his building, his bride.
It is this union with Christ that is to make sin unthinkable for us.
Think about Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian church when talking about sexual sin:
1 Corinthians 6:15-18. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality.
First and foremost Paul never tells Christians that their sin is no big deal especially since they are living under grace.
Grace as our union with Christ is actually what empowers us and motivates us to forsake sin. Notice Paul’s logic here in 1 Corinthians. He doesn’t tell them that if they sleep with a prostitute they will lose Christ and his love. “If you sin, Christ will leave you.” Nope.*
Rather, he says that if they sin, they will take Christ into that sin with them. Christ will never leave us or forsake us, even when we are sinning. He gets dragged right into it. Why? Because his love for us is unconditional. His union to us is unbreakable.
This is the love that will produce a hatred of sin. This is the grace that will produce a hatred of the flesh. When we realize that Christ loves us so much that he won’t ever abandon us, even while we are sinning, it is this loyalty of Christ that will create a loyalty in us toward him that rejects all that hurts him. Conditional love never ever produces this kind of holiness. Only unconditional love and grace can do that.
“To live is Christ” is to be in Christ Jesus. To be in unconditional love and grace. This kind of grace will never desire more sin. When truly understood, this unconditional grace will produce a satisfaction with Christ that will consider being alive to God of far greater worth than any thing sin could offer.
Have you used grace as an excuse for sin? How can the abundant grace of your union with Christ allow you to find freedom from the desire for sin?
* I am indebted to Glen Scrivener and Speak Life for this idea and others in this blog.