Romans 6:14. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Can I ask you a personal question? How are you trying to overcome the dominion of sin in your life?
Law keeping? Confessions? Begging God to take away the temptations?
Romans 6 is a chapter all about our relationship to sin. It begins with this questions – “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound?” Paul’s answer is an emphatic “By no means.”
It’s at this point that we might expect Paul to launch into a discourse on how we exchange immoral behavior for good law abiding behavior. But he doesn’t. Rather, he begins to teach us about our union with Christ. Our co-crucifixion with Christ. Our position in Christ of being dead to sin. He explains how we must KNOW that we are dead to sin, we must CONSIDER ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, and we must PRESENT ourselves to God for righteousness. This three step process is the only way to overcome sin’s dominion in our lives.
No mention of law-keeping.
In fact, Paul says that sin won’t rule over us precisely because we are NOT UNDER LAW, but under grace. In other words, law causes us to sin.
But doesn’t law show us what is right and wrong, and how to be good not bad? Isn’t the law how we overcome sin? Yes, and No. Yes, the law shows us what is right and wrong, good and bad. But no, it can never empower us to overcome sin. Why not?
Law says if you do your duty, if you obey, you will receive reward or blessing. Be better. Do more. Earn. Perform well. Be the smartest in the room. Buy the best gifts. Be the “employee of the decade.” Please your family. Be nice. Be more thankful than her. Be more helpful than him. Keep everyone happy.
But grace says be blessed with all the blessing of Jesus. Period. Then enjoy life as a blessed person.
And it is this simple teaching – you are not under law but under grace – that made the Jewish religious establishment want to kill Paul. And this same teaching is what makes many Christians today shake their heads and try to explain it away. “There can’t be too much talk about grace or Christians will just sin all the time.” “Paul doesn’t mean the moral laws, only the civil and ceremonial laws.” “We’re saved by grace, but then we grow by keeping the law.”
But that’s not what Paul says here in Romans 6:14. He says that in Christ, we are no longer under law. Any law that opposes grace. He’s not even talking about just the Old Testament law (the Ten Commandments). He’s talking about law as a principle. He’s talking about any standard of performance that you place yourself or others under. Jewish laws. Greek laws. Church laws. Culture laws. Work place laws. Parenting laws. Sexuality laws. Friendship laws. The principle of law is all around us, always trying to control us. It will reveal our sin at best and increase our sin at worst. But it will never defeat sin. Never.
Here’s the truth for those of us who think we still need law to keep us out of trouble – the law never kept anyone out of trouble. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel had the perfect law and yet sinned all the time, in horrendous ways. In the New Testament, the Pharisees decided to try and actually obey the Mosaic Law completely (perfect righteousness) and guess what? They sinned all the time in horrendous ways. The first was immoral sinning and the second was moral sinning, but they all missed out on the purpose of the law – LOVE.
Love transcends the law. True love is a law to itself that paradoxically doesn’t need a law. Think about the two lovers in Song of Songs. They love without law. They love, not from obligation but from delight. Internal love and grace nullify the need for an external law. This is why God wants trusting way more than he wants trying. This is why to obey is to simply believe and to actively love (1 John 3:23). God knows that faith will follow grace and obedience will follow faith. God knows that if he gives you his grace you will progressively trust him more and more and then obey him more and more from that trust.
The law simply cannot accomplish any of this. Only grace through faith can overcome sin in our lives.
“To live is Christ” is to trust in your position in grace alone. Your full forgiveness. Your freedom from the power and consequence of sin. Your resurrection unto eternal life. It is to rest in the freedom of his unconditional love. A resting that will bring true obedience as the impulse of his love.
How do you deal with your sin?
You in Christ
How does your union with Christ allow you to deal with your sin from grace rather than law?
Christ in you
How would trusting God’s grace more today actually allow you to obey Christ more today, from love not law?
Playlist: Under grace.