“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” —Romans 6:1, 2
For the several months, since Romans 3:20, we’ve been looking at what the scriptures have to say concerning JUSTIFICATION. In the last few articles especially (forgive me for my long absence), we have looked specifically at IMPUTATION. Over the next few articles we will begin examining and seeking to understand from the scriptures several other theological terms such as IDENTIFICATION, REGENERATION, etc. As we move along in the text, we’ll pause occasionally to ensure we have an understanding of these doctrines.
When a person is saved, justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, that person has become a new creation in Christ:
“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
After salvation, there is newness of life for that justified individual (Romans 6:4); yet, he is still a sinner because he is a descendent of Adam. We saw that reality of justification through IMPUTATION in the last few articles; and because saving grace through Jesus Christ reigns so supremely over the law, it could overcome the vilest wickedness (Romans 5:20).
Yet, because we are still sinners, and have a tendency toward sin, we might think that sinning is okay; we may justify our sin by saying, “Well, it’s no problem if I sin because grace will override it… AND show more evidence that I’m truly saved.” Now, this kind of thinking is carried out to its logical conclusion in a term I mentioned some time ago, called ANTINOMIANISM. Antinomianism means “against the Law” or “in place of the Law;” that is to say that those who are antinomian completely ignore, or worse, reject God’s Law because they are “under grace.” Paul actually deals with that with a little more depth in Romans 7.
In fact, because we see how grace so overrules sin in the justification of a sinner, apart from the grace of God and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit through God’s Word, we might have a tendency to suggest that if I sin more, it will more greatly magnify grace. Realizing this tendency, the apostle raises the question, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1).
To this kind of thinking, the apostle flatly, says, “God forbid” (Romans 6:2). “No way,” he declares.
Then he asks a very important question: “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” This is a question that the apostle will spend the rest of the book answering; in the next six chapters doctrinally, and in the last five chapters practically.
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Read the previous article in this series, “Imputation Does Not Remove Man’s Responsibility” (Romans 5:19).