What then shall we say? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
In today’s Daily Verse, we learn something vitally important about grace. Paul has just finished expounding on the glory of the gospel’s “great exchange”– that is, that Christ takes our sin and credits us with His perfect obedience. Now, in chapter 6, Paul anticipates the obvious next logical step, and counters it. Having read Romans 5, it would be tempting to say, “Well, if I’m credited with Christ’s obedience, then my obedience must not matter. Woo-hoo! Let’s sin so that grace may abound!” But Paul’s response is crystal clear: “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Far too many Christians live in the first half of 6:1. We view grace as a blank check of forgiveness that makes our own obedience and holiness irrelevant. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Grace is not permission to live in sin; it is power to live by the Spirit. Grace doesn’t excuse sin; it kills it. Grace is free, but it is not cheap; it is the free, unmerited favor of God that buys and owns and rules the lives of the redeemed and says, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Grace says to the sinner, “All of your sin alienates you from God, and all your obedience is so shot through with selfishness that it only compounds your rebellion. Surrender your rebellion and your righteousness to God, and find full and free forgiveness that covers your guilt and empowers a new life of obedience that pleases God.” Anything less than that, any “grace” that covers sin without condemning it, is no longer grace, but rather a fabricated, false, and futile gospel that does not save.
Grace does not excuse sin; no, grace is so much bigger and better than that. God’s grace forgives sin and changes the sinner. We have died and been raised with Christ; by grace His Holy Spirit now lives in us, applying the blood of Jesus to all our failures, ensuring our free access to the throne of grace, and empowering all our efforts to put forgiven sin to death. The slavery of sin has been broken by the unblinding light of the gospel, and the inexpressibly kind words of Jesus to us are: “Neither do I condemn you; now go and sin no more.”
Dear God, Thank you for Your grace, which does so much more than just forgive me; You have changed me, given me a new heart, and stripped my sin of all its condemning and enslaving power. Now give me more grace, Father, to put sin to death with the help of Your Holy Spirit. Give me eyes of faith to see Your glory and to believe the promises of Your grace, and to press on to know and please You more.
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This post is written by Brendan Beale, author of Cross Connections