“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin,that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1). All who have received Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour should be Bible believing Christians who love Jesus Christ. I don’t think any of us believe the genuine Christian life is a “free for all” system where you enjoy a life of sinful behavior. Most all Christians (that I know) will not argue with that. Most of us recognize and are willing to acknowledge we have fallen way short of God’s holy standards and that we have room for much improvement.
SHALL WE CONTINUE IN SIN?
Shall we continue in sin? Of course we shall or should not continue in sin. That should be a no brainer for each of us. That is a very basic and elementary truth. And you don’t need to be a deep thinker or endowed with some deep spiritual illumination to know that.
Sin, by the way, is defined throughout the Holy Scriptures and we should always purpose to avoid proclaiming our “personal standards” as if they have somehow become God’s absolute holy standards of righteousness. Be very careful about letting someone else “define” sin for you. On the other hand, if the word of God is clear about something we should or should not think, say, or do, we would all be wise to obey what He says.
As a believer the Holy Spirit pricks our heart through the word and clearly reveals our sin—my sin! Let me offer a word of advice. If you are a Bible teacher, and the word speaks clearly about a specific sin, then by all means speak His truth in love as you are led by the Holy Spirit. Remember, sometimes He may direct you to keep your mouth shut. Be discerning of His will. We should all know that if the Bible is silent or unclear about something then we should be silent or at least give the disclaimer that it’s our “personal” opinion.
In saying that, I realize there are abuses by Christians on both sides of this issue. Some will flaunt their liberty in Christ and others will hammer their strict legalism. We should do neither. There are plenty who twist the scriptures by not rightly dividing the word of truth to make them conveniently line up with their “personal” views on the way we should behave. But know this. There is absolute, clear, and precise instruction from God’s word and it would be wise for us to accept and receive what He says. Let God’s word speak. What does God say? God is capable of opening our eyes to truth that is found in the Holy Bible. As a believer, you can read, understand, and be transformed by His word. You don’t need me or anyone else ordering your life around. [Let me make note that I am not referring to parents with little children. Children do need to be told what to do as part of their training.]
Teenagers who are truly saved can hear from God. We can hear from God. Do you believe that? Do you believe the Holy Spirit will use the double edged sword of God’s word to expose any sin in your heart? I do. What has the Holy Spirit been telling YOU through the written word of God lately? Are YOU listening? Sure God uses people, but ultimately this is between you and Him.
Here’s another caution for you zealots out there who believe it’s your call in life to clean up the Christian body. Whenever we attempt to manage or control the outward appearance or conduct of another believer with our personal standards, personal convictions, or personal disciplines; no matter how Biblical they may seem, others might conform to them for a while but will ultimately resist, reject, and rebel against what we are teaching. People need to discover the truth in God’s word in His perfect time and take personal ownership. Godly behavior will not last unless it is directed by a personal relationship of love for Christ. The Holy Spirit must open their eyes of spiritual understanding. Are you a teacher, a preacher, a parent? I encourage you to keep teaching and preaching the word of God in love and let God be God! Otherwise, you will end up pushing the people you love away instead of directing them to Christ.
Christians are meant to know, love, and follow Jesus Christ and discover victorious freedom and liberty through Him. Make notice that I said “victorious” freedom and liberty through Him. Each Christian is meant to discover the freedom to obey Him and the liberty to follow Him the way He directs them to. They are not meant to be controlled, manipulated, pushed, or led around like a puppet. They are not meant to fit nicely in the conformity box. And the way in which God guides you may or may not be the same way He has led me. Stop assuming just because someone does not dress like, act like, or speak like you that they do not know and love Jesus Christ. God will show all of us what needs to change in our life. I know, if you are like I was, you may think our older children are idiots and need our constant tutelage in order to avoid the same mistakes we made. Give God more credit than that. Have you taught them about Jesus Christ and His ways? If so, back off and get ready to be shocked with their love, devotion, and service to Him. Stop smothering them.
Personal transformation occurs in the life of a believer by the Holy Spirit operating in and through the written word of God. It’s not from your eloquent or authoritative teaching. It is not from your education, talent, or enthusiasm. It’s not from your great and persuasive delivery of the message. It is God who does the work through the instrument of His perfect word. Live the Christian life and point others to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, the behavior and conduct of others may not be according to our liking or it may not measure up to our “personal” high standards of holiness but we can be “…confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6). He will perform His good work. Do you really believe that? Can you trust God? Our joy and privilege as teachers, preachers, and/or parents is to simply follow Jesus and point others to Him. Jesus is faithful and He is able to guide us into all truth. Back off and allow Christ to paint the canvas of someone’s life. He’s a terrific artist!
A KEY TRUTH IN ROMANS 6:1
So what about Romans 6:1? For years I missed the real message contained in this verse and, subsequently, failed to see a “key truth” that would actually provide the ability and the desire to pursue holiness and purity in my thoughts, words, and deeds. In case you don’t already know this, let’s get this out of the way right now. I still sin. I still battle. I still wrestle. And so do you.
In no way am I suggesting we can completely stop sinning. That is not my goal in this article. But we can and should know that one glorious day this mortal flesh of ours will put on immortality. One day this corruptible body of flesh will put on incorruption. Those are Biblical facts for every believer. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).
In our present condition, however, we each know from personal experiences that we are much like the Apostle Paul. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:18-19). Let’s be honest and real with each other. We are in a battle; a very real conflict and struggle.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1). Let’s probe a little. What shall we say then to what? Why the question? The previous chapter helps us discover the answer.
“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).
Sin reigns or rules unto death. The Bible is clear about that. That is a result of Adam’s sin. It is now passed on to all humans. Since all of us have sinned, all of us have a problem that must be resolved. Sin reigns unto death, resulting in both physical (mortal) death and spiritual (eternal) death. The good news is that the penalty of sin is destroyed through the shed blood of Jesus Christ once for all. Death is swallowed up in victory. In Christ we have forgiveness, cleansing, and the removal of all condemnation. This is all ours through Jesus Christ. Not good works.
Grace, righteousness, and eternal life are each by Jesus Christ. Get that. That is what the Bible says. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” This verse is not implying that grace reigns through my righteous acts or my righteous behavior. It is not teaching that grace reigns through good and holy behavior. Stop believing a lie. Grace reigns by Jesus Christ our Lord—period.
It is false teaching that says grace hinges on our righteous behavior. This legalistic teaching actually puts people in bondage to a “performance driven” mindset in order to satisfy God and to guarantee good success. Erroneous teaching says as long as you behave “righteously” then grace is yours to the full. Wrong teaching promotes the idea that grace reigns in the life of an “obedient” Christian. But if you sin, well, grace has ceased to reign in your life. The warning is: YOU BETTER GET BACK IN LINE!
That’s garbage! That is absolutely not what Romans 5:21 is saying. Grace always reigns or rules in the life of a believer because it reigns by Jesus Christ and He never changes! Grace is always effectual in the life of a believer. Praise God for that reality!
I once started to read a book (which I threw in the garbage can before I could finish it) on the power of His grace that actually changes the word of God by putting a period after the word righteousness. That is always the first clue that a particular teaching may be incorrect. Romans 5:21 does not say: “Even so might grace reign through righteousness.”
By comparing scripture with scripture we clearly see in the context of Romans 5:21 that grace “always” reigns and grace is wholly contingent on the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not ours. Aren’t you grateful? Grace is always at work because grace is in and by Jesus Christ. Carefully read Romans 5:18-19. “Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience [Adam] many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus Christ] shall many be made righteous.”
Do you understand what those verses are saying? If we are honest, we all understand the offence, sin, and condemnation part. But do you understand that righteousness has come to the full in Christ Jesus and that He has addressed the sin problem once and for all? Do you see that Jesus Christ is the righteous one and He alone has completely satisfied God? Do you believe that? You’ll never deal properly with sin in your life until you first understand and believe what the Bible is saying about Christ.
By the righteousness of one, Jesus Christ, many will be made righteous through faith in Him. That is absolute fact. But any person who has not believed and received Jesus Christ is still living with the sentence of judgment and eternal death. That’s what the Holy Bible says. Read it. “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19).
If we fail to fully accept and apply by faith what the righteous one, Jesus Christ, has accomplished on the cross we’ll miss out on His grace, love, peace, joy, power, and the desire to live the Christian life the way He directs us to. We’ll miss the power and the person of Christ. And we’ll deal with a life of constant defeat, discouragement, despondency, and depression as a result. We’ll feel that we cannot be good enough, wise enough, obedient enough, or committed enough. We’ll have great temptation to always look our best, act our best, and be our best around our peers even though we are hurting and struggling. We’ll live in the glass bubble of pretending and pretense.
Get real. Be honest. There is nothing we can ever do to satisfy or appease a righteous and perfect God—both before AND after receiving Christ. That is what grace is believer. Don’t accept part of grace. Accept and receive all He gives; forgiveness, justification, redemption, sanctification, and atonement. These spiritual blessings are not from our good works of righteousness but by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. They are completely ours by the gift of His amazing grace.
GRACE ALWAYS ABOUNDS
Invariably, there will be some who read this article and think I am not hammering on sin enough. As they’ve read this article perhaps they have thought “Yeah, but what about.…” They think I’m inviting others to grab the “get out Hell free” card and go along their merry way and live like the devil. They might even think I’ve compromised God’s standards of holiness and righteousness in my own life and I’ve turned from the truth. They may think I’m ignoring the many times scripture instructs us to live right, think right, and speak right. If you’ve had any of these thoughts then you’ve totally missed the truth in God’s word and you’ve yet to really know His grace.
The fact that grace always abounds should inspire and constrain us to know, love, and follow Jesus Christ. I know that if we will simply love Jesus Christ and walk in our relationship with Him our behavior will change. I know that if Christ truly abides in our heart we will hate sin. I know that if grace rules our heart we will get off the pedestal of self-righteousness and start directing others to the one who is full of grace AND truth. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Of course not. Will His grace abound if we do sin? Of course it will. That’s grace! Let this amazing, undeserved, unmerited grace direct you to know, love, and follow Christ.