“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?”
Romans 6:1-2 NLT
We left Romans chapter 5 with the thought, “… But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant” (Romans 5:21b). And Paul continues this theme at the start of chapter 6. Of course we want to see more and more of God’s grace – without it we are a doomed people – but do we need to expose it by blatantly and deliberately sinning? A good question, Paul! He used some strong language here, presumably designed to shock his readers out of a position of complacency. Language not just for his day, I might add.
When we put our faith in Jesus, we made a decision to not only follow Him, but to also turn our backs on sin. But, as we know, this is easier said than done. We strut away from the Cross, full of our new-found relationship with God, and very soon find that leaving sin behind is easier said than done. We suddenly find that unwholesome thoughts pop into our minds. Thoughts similar to those heard by Eve in the Garden – “Did God really say you must not …?” And before we know it we find that sin has knocked at the door of our hearts and entered, uninvited perhaps, but resident nonetheless. Oh Lord! And on our knees we once again we find forgiveness, covered by God’s “wonderful grace”.
Divesting ourselves of sin takes a lifetime. And God’s “wonderful grace” follows us as the Holy Spirit helps us day by day, hour by hour. A new born baby soon learns what sin is all about, and the early formative years shape a personality that finds sin attractive and enjoyable. So in later years, to leave that behind is difficult. When Paul asked the question about a sinful life – ”how can we continue to live in it?” – he knew that it wouldn’t be easy. He knew that it could even prove impossible. But he also knew that we have access to some amazing resources that will help us. And we will read more about them in the next chapters in Romans.
Paul used the expression “since we have died to sin” as though this was a given fact. It is of course. When we believed in Jesus at the Cross, we related to His death, nailing our sins to the Cross in an act of repentance. One of my favourite passages of Scripture is in Ephesians 4:21-24, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy”. It is to me a constant reminder of an old life, hopefully increasingly put behind me into history, and a new life, becoming more like Jesus. The NLT translation from Ephesians 4:22 refers to “old sinful nature”, but the KJV uses the expression the “old man”. The old and new imagery clearly highlights the dichotomy between the two states.
We pilgrims really have died to sin, and with God’s help, every time our “old man” tries to emerge alive again from the coffin we receive the help we need to put the lid back on. And we find assurance in Hebrews 4:16, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most”. God’s resources are always greater than our need. Always.
Father God. Once again we marvel about Your amazing grace. So unmerited but so welcome. We welcome this gift of grace with open arms, drawing it into the very core of our beings. Amen.