Dead To Sin
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
“‘Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?’ That question would naturally arise in the minds of the uninformed. Besides, some people would like to have an excuse to indulge in sin. If God’s grace abounds where sin abounds, why not keep sinning, so that grace may abound the more?” (Commentary on Romans, Whiteside, p. 128). When our understanding of grace is so misconstrued, it is no surprise that such a fallacious idea would come to mind! Paul assaults the false idea immediately by stating that if we have died to sin, it should be inconceivable to have a desire to continue practicing it. A practitioner of righteousness is as far removed from sin as is possible – to the point that Paul’s analogy is the difference between life and death. One can understand how a reader might make this argument, though, based on a misapplication of the context (Romans 5:20-21).
The idea of death, though, is key to understanding salvation. I must be dead to sin in order to live for righteousness. I cannot think that these two will dwell in me simultaneously. I am either totally saved or not – there is no middle ground. I have either died to sin or I still live in it. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 4:20-24).
Sadly, man has crafted many scenarios in which it is acceptable to continue living in sin. It is simply easier to overlook sin – to save relationships rather than souls, to avoid the risks of faithfully ordering one’s life according to the will of God. I have often heard people justify a sinful situation by saying, “But God’s grace is limitless. I’m just going to trust in His grace.” While I would never argue that God’s grace is not limitless, I would say that it has God-established boundaries. It is like a well in the desert that is practically inexhaustible, but still bound by location. That well, like grace, is narrowly defined. One cannot continue “living in sin” (Colossians 3:5-11) if one is truly living in a state of spiritual renewal. I can only ever become a “vessel for honor” in God’s household if I take some initiative and “cleanse myself” from sinful activities (2 Timothy 2:20-23).