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? Trying harder? 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 go there at all. Rather, he begins to teach us about our union with Christ. 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 or rule following. In fact, Paul says that sin won’t rule over us precisely because we are NOT UNDER LAW, but under grace. In other words, because the law increases sin the only way to overcome sin in our lives is by law’s opposite – grace.
But doesn’t law show us what is right and wrong? Yes. Then isn’t the law how we overcome sin? No. The law reveals right and wrong but it can never empower righteousness in our lives. Why not? Because the law can’t change our heart into a heart of love. Fail at keeping the law and you’ll have a heart of despair. “Keep” the law better than others and you’ll have a heart of pride.
Law says that if you do your duty, if you obey, if you perform, you will receive blessing. But God’s standard is perfection. And so the only way to feel good as a law keeper is to lower the standard. Make others our standard rather than God. As long as I’m better than him. At least I’m not as messed up as her. I’m a better person than those people.
But still the law itself looms over us, reminding us each day of our inability to keep it. To live up. To be the best version of ourselves. And we’re not just talking about the Old Testament law anymore. We’re talking about any law that opposes grace. Any standard of performance that you place yourself or others under. 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 true purpose of the law – LOVE.
Why the law? To drive us head first into the grace of God’s unconditional love for us in Christ. This is where blessing is found. The blessing of receiving a gift, not earning a wage. The blessing of a love that transcends the law. The blessing of a love that is a law to itself, a law 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 grace you will progressively trust him more and more and then obey him more and more from that trust.
“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.
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