Sunday, 26 May 2013
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Romans 6:15
This verse introduces the second major section of chapter 6. Just as 6:1 entertained an outlandish question which was responded to with “Certainly not!” so does 6:15. Paul’s second question is now given.
There is a difference between coming to Christ in order to be saved and being in Christ after being saved. When a sinner comes to Christ, there is absolutely nothing they can add to His work. The doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is set and fixed in the New Testament. Adding something to grace equates to “no grace.” Expecting something more than faith means that faith alone isn’t sufficient. When a person calls on Jesus, it is because they realize they cannot save themselves and that they are at His mercy.
If salvation is granted based on complete dependency, then it must be a once-for-all-time deal because Paul is quite clear that after salvation there are things expected of us. If we can become “unsaved” by the things we do or don’t do after salvation, then the act of salvation wasn’t really “by grace through faith.” But it is.
Once the pardon is granted and once the person stands justified, then we are to live as if it is so. And so Paul asks his question starting with “What then?” This is an introduction based on the previous argument which began in 6:1 and followed through to 6:14. In essence, “Because of everything that has been reviewed, what is the conclusion?” To demonstrate the obvious nature of what is concluded, he proposes another outlandish question, “Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace?” Paul’s answer is an emphatic “Certainly not!”
He has already said that we are not under the law, but under grace. The law allows no sin at all; grace pardons sin. Because this is so, isn’t this license to sin? Can’t we do what we wish and expect an abundance of the grace which comes from the very fountain of grace? This is Paul’s “Certainly not!” Believe it or not though, this is the view of many and it is not at all what is intended by God for His people. Such a notion is contrary to His very nature which is one of holiness. It should be noted though that there are actually two extremes which could be introduced.
The first is that there is license to sin because we are not under the law, but under grace. The second is that because Paul says “Certainly not!” that we are now somehow bound again to the very law which led us to the grace of Christ. Both extremes come about by taking individual thoughts or verses out of context and without consideration to the entire scope of what he is saying.
Christians are not under the law: the law is set aside in Christ (Hebrews 7:18), it is obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), and it is fulfilled and nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14). However, what is also noted is that we are not free to sin. So where then does our instruction come from? If by the law sin is known and the law no longer applies to the Christian, then how can we sin? The answer is that the New Testament writings set the standards for the Christian. This is the point of the epistles – to show us what is right and what is expected as followers of the Lord. And this is why the entire scope of the New Testament must be taken in proper context.
Life application: We are not given license to sin. Our salvation is a one-time event and it is eternal. Therefore, what we do after that moment falls under another category – rewards and losses. The imprudent soul would squander Christ’s rewards for earth’s temporary, fleeting vanities. Don’t be imprudent with your few moments of this life… eternity awaits.
Glorious and wonderful Lord! How good it is to know that You have me securely in the palm of Your hand. Were it up to me, I know that I would never be able to stand in Your presence and enjoy Your eternal blessings. But the good news is that it’s not up to me at all. I received Your pardon at the cross and so I know that You have everything else taken care of. Thank You O Lord. Amen.