In Romans chapter six Paul is dishing out one of the most powerful chapters on God’s grace and our identity in Christ. In chapter five he has just finished explaining how outrageous and generous the grace of God is in allowing us to be saved through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son.
In light of the claims Paul makes in chapter five a question arises. Anywhere grace is preached in its fullness someone would have this particular question. I know I did! The question is, "shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?". In other words, should we go on sinning and abuse God’s grace? I mean, wouldn’t God eventually get mad at us and just get rid of us?
The answer Paul gives is, well, strange.
Romans 6:2 “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
You are dead to sin, so how are you going to live in it? Notice the language. You can't live in something that you are dead to.
Paul's answer goes much deeper than just actions. He appeals to the being of man at His very core. He appeals to our identity. Our identity is who we are. Identity defines your behavior more than anything else.
He continues with the appeal to our new identity:
Romans 6:3-4, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
So what does it mean to be dead to sin? Well, our old man who was dead in trespasses and sins was crucified with Christ. The word Baptize in this passage means "immersed". We were immersed into His death, burial and resurrection. The old Tyler McGirt was crucified with Christ and now I walk in His resurrection life!
Romans 6:6-7 "...Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin."
Continue in sin? I can't. I am literally dead to it because of what Jesus did.
I can hear it now, "Are you saying that we don't sin anymore?". No I am not saying that. What I am saying is that we are new creatures that have been created after God in true holiness (Eph. 4:24) and our natural default is now righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).
Continue in sin? We are not in sin, we are in Christ (Col. 3:3). We will still allow the old strategies of the flesh, the world and the devil to influence us to commit sins, but we are not the flesh, the world and the devil. We are new in Christ (Gal. 6:15). We are children of God with His spiritual DNA (Titus 3:5). We are partakers of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4)
Here it is, The Gospel in two verses:
Colossians 2:12-13 "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;"
How does Paul answer the question of, "can we abuse the grace of God"? Well, he answers with... Jesus. Our old self being dead with Him, buried with Him and made alive with Him! You are not in sin. You are in Christ. The answer is found in your new identity!
What About Sins?
Do we still commit sins? Yes, we do. It is an unfortunate reality that there are still forces at work that are trying to influence us. However, these forces are not us. The flesh is not who we are. It does not bear our identity. However, we can walk after it and allow it to influence us.
We should not allow the flesh to influence us. As people who are indwelt by The Spirit of God we do not have to walk after the old strategies and ways of the flesh. The Holy Spirit in combination with our new heart is the most powerful tool against the flesh. We only overcome the sinful habits of the flesh by trusting Jesus. We look to Him.
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:16
Why Should We Avoid Sin?
Romans six invites us to understand three reasons why we should avoid sin:
1. We have died to sin and cannot live in it any longer. We live in Christ alone. In Him we walk and have our being. He is joined to us at the deepest level of our existence (I Cor. 6:17). We are to consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive unto God!
Romans 6:11 "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
2. We have become obedient from the heart, even if we don't realize it. Remember that Paul's response in verse two was, "Know ye not?". Apparently it is possible for someone to have received Christ but still not understand that they were made a part of an internal transformation at the core of their being. When we were unbelievers our hearts were slaves of sin. We were bound by desires that caused sin and death. When we believed the Gospel, God gave us an obedient heart that now desires what God desires. It is by this transformation that we are no longer slaves of sin, but we are servants of righteousness.
Romans 6:17-18 "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
3. We don't find fulfillment in sin. The truth is, when anyone puts their faith and trust in the finished work of Christ they have a change of heart. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We are allergic to sin, it doesn't work with us. We find ourselves miserable when we try to make it work in our lives. It's not what we want anymore. There isn't a born again Christian on this planet that enjoys going against the righteousness that God has placed inside them. Ask yourself honestly. If you are a believer, do you find yourself happy in sin? Does walking after the flesh fulfill you? If you are in your right mind you are saying no. Our hearts cry out when we try to sin. Paul described this feeling at the end of chapter six. What fruit came from living in the things that you are now ashamed of?
Romans 6:21 "What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death."
If you find yourself hating the sin in your life, this is a good sign. That is the righteous nature that was imparted to you at salvation testifying to you, "That is not who you are anymore."
Grace is not a license to sin, It changes our desire to sin. The new man then picks up and takes off! It's easy to express Jesus! Just be yourself! You are a new creature in Him!