In Romans 6:1, Paul asked the question, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” The student of the Bible understands this as being a rhetorical question because the answer is found in the very next verse when Paul exclaims, “Certainly not!”
If not, why not? Isn’t Christ’s blood designed to wash away sins? Certainly! If it is, why can we not go on sinning? The answer has nothing to do with the power of God’s grace or of Christ’s blood but the poor spiritual understanding we have of sin. Some at that time as well as today figure that Christ’s blood gives us a license to sin. After all, His blood is powerful enough to take away any sin. If it can take murder off the soul of Paul and hypocrisy off the soul of Peter then it must be able to wash me. Why not go on sinning? After all, I am covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.
One must understand that the blood of Christ is not to be used as a “Get out of Jail Free” card. When one in his mind thinks, “I am going to commit this sin, whatever it may be, and then I will run back and ask God for forgiveness” this one is only diluting his mind and playing God as a fool. One is actually raising his fist in the air and saying, “God, I am going to sin because I like it. I want You to wink at what I am doing and dismiss it.” Such thinking is of the world. It is not from God.
The apostle Peter put this matter foremost in our thoughts when he wrote, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire’” (2 Pet. 2:20-22). If we willingly rebel against God, we are no better than this dog and sow.
One may reply, “But I’m not really turning against God,. After all, I’m coming back to the blood. I really love God.” No, when one continues to willfully sin against Him they do not love God. They love sin.
In verse two, Paul answers the question with a question: “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” To understand the question, we must understand the purpose of putting on Christ in baptism. Besides receiving the blessing of the forgiveness of sin, it should be our intent to put away those sins forevermore. Sadly, this is not the understanding of many as they are buried in Christ. They desire the cleansing blood of Christ but their heart was never fully committed on putting away the sin. Thus they come for a while and after a few months drift away.
When we stand before God and commit our lives to Him, one must also understand that they are also committing themselves to eliminating sin in their lives. Paul said, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13). Notice the words: “…you put to death the deeds of the body.” Who has the responsibility of putting to death the deeds of the body? You. It is the person’s individual responsibility to seek out sin in their lives and destroy it.
Paul would again say in Colossians 3:5-7: “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” This language does not allow for “pet sins,” nor the thought that God because of His abounding grace and mercy will “wink” at them. We must hate sin as much as God hates sin.
Paul in reaching for the eternal prize said in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Such thinking is certainly out of sorts with those who seek to dabble and even justify a “little” sin in their lives.
Those who seek the remission of sins in baptism yet seek to continue in their old lives of sin make a mockery of baptism as well as the blood of Christ. Such a one will stand shame-faced before the judgment bar of God. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!
Roy is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University, Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies in Knoxville, TN, and preaches for the Lord’s church in St. George, SC.