We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
The Christian life or the new life in Christ is marked by grace. And where grace is reigning, there grace is also advancing its conquest over sin. Yes, it is true that Christians sin due to immaturity and carelessness. But they are not defeated by sin, and they do not continue in it. This is the new way of life!
Do you understand the absurdity of the objector’s question in this section: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1). If you understand the nature of grace, you will understand that for grace to increase, sin must decrease, not increase. The goal of grace is to destroy and vanquish sin. Therefore, if a person goes on sinning, as the objection suggests, it shows that he or she actually has no part in grace and is not saved. For grace is not merely an on-look favour, but it is a divine act upon the soul of man! Accordingly, where the active hand of God is, there is surely evidence of a life of and for God, a life free from sin.
I give two warnings:
- The first is directed particularly to the many people in religious circles who have much head knowledge about doctrine and who suppose, just because they know such things and give mental assent to them, that all is therefore well with their souls and they are saved from sin and its consequences. That is not necessarily the case. If you are such a person, I need to warn you that it is not enough for you only to believe these things. Salvation is not mere knowledge. It is a new life. It is a union with Christ. Therefore, unless you have turned and are daily turning from sin and going on in righteousness, as you follow after Jesus Christ, you are not saved. It is presumptuous to believe you are. So examine your life. Make sure you are saved. The Bible warns you to “make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).
- The other warning is to all Christians. Do you by your conduct, give occasion for this objection? Is your life so careless that an unsaved person looking on might reasonably conclude that this is precisely where the doctrine of justification by grace leads Christians? If that is the case, correct that impression at once. “It is a lamentable fact that one man who dishonors the gospel by an unholy walk does more injury to the souls of men than ten holy ones can do them good.” I urge you to be part of the solution, part of the ten, rather than part of the problem. Let your life be marked by righteousness, not marred by sin—for your own soul’s good as well as for the good of other people. Let grace reign and sin decrease.