Note: This will be the only post for this week. We will resume the Romans study after the Thanksgiving break.
If Christians have been forgiven of every sin they ever have or ever will commit, then does that mean that they can live any way they want? Should Christians sin as much as possible so that God can have even more to forgive them of and His grace will then be magnified in their lives (Romans 6:1)? No! Not at all, says God through the Apostle Paul in today’s passage from Romans. The question may seem logical to an outsider, but not to a person who has tasted of the grace of God through Christ. Why? Because Christians do not see sin as something “fun that they don’t get to do” now that they are saved. Instead, Christians know that sin is a terrible disease of the soul that Jesus died to rescue them from. We struggle with temptation and sometimes our old nature wins. Christians still sin, saying and doing what we have already agreed with God to be wrong. But afterwards, the Holy Spirit inside us convicts us and leads us to confession and repentance. Sin is still our enemy, but it is no longer our master. We sin, but we no longer have to sin, and deep down, we no longer want to sin like we did before we met Jesus.
You see, the big, eternally important difference between unbelievers and Christians is in our attitude towards sin and God. When Christians sin, it is a painful defeat for us. We do not glory in doing what we know God hates. Why? Because as Paul says, we “died to sin” when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Romans 6:2). Our baptism is a public symbol of the spiritual reality that happened when we were born again and came to faith in Christ. In a very real way, when we trusted in Jesus to save us from our sins, we died with Him and were raised to walk in a new life by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:3-4). We are now alive to God and His ways and should consider ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6:11). Sin no longer has dominance over us; we are no longer slaves to our evil desires but can choose to do what glorifies God (Romans 6:6).
The key to winning our daily battles against sin is to remember that through Christ, the war has already been won. We have already died to sin and we can keep dying to sin each day, choosing to put on the new self created in righteousness (Romans 6:12-13). The opening question of this post is a common objection to the Christian concept of grace that seems troubling when you first hear it. But it is an unfair question because the asker is assuming that sin is a good thing that Christians must lose. Instead, sin is actually an awful spiritual disease that Christians know they must kill to enjoy the blessings of life with God. That’s what Paul means in verse 14 when he says that sin no longer has to rule over us. Before our salvation, we willingly sinned against God’s law and were then condemned by both our sin and God’s righteous expectations for us. But after receiving God’s mercy and grace, sin’s penalty and power were broken by the greater love for Jesus that God put in our hearts by faith, enabling us to keep the law not out of obligation but out of gratitude.
My prayer is that we can all say with Paul this Thanksgiving that sin will not have dominion over us. Rather, may we count our old love for sin to be destroyed by the far better pleasures of worshiping our kind and gracious God forever.
The Text (Romans 6:1-14)
6 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Questions to Think About
- Have you ever heard an objection to Christian grace like the one raised at the beginning of this post? How did you respond to it?
- Do you think about sin differently now than you did when you were younger? Why or why not?
- If Christians have already died to sin when they accepted Christ as Savior, then why would we still need to be told to consider ourselves “dead indeed to sin”? How can being reminded of what has already happened to us spiritually at salvation help us in our present and future spiritual battles for holiness?
- What do you think it means to be “alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord”? What evidences of being to alive to God have you noticed in your own life?