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The Daily Word of Righteousness
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1,2)
It seems to me that Romans 6:1,2 are not being understood as Paul meant them to be. I think a correct understanding of these two verses will go a long way toward increasing the moral strength of the Christian churches.
In the text that precedes Romans 6:1,2 Paul argues vehemently against our attempting to gain righteousness by works. By works, Paul was referring to the works of the Law of Moses.
Somehow, even at that early date, some teachers were arguing (whether sincerely or mockingly) that if God's grace is excusing our sin, we should keep sinning so God will have the opportunity to show more grace.
What religious people will do to avoid living righteously, what arguments they will employ, is a never-ending source of amazement!
"Shall we go on sinning?" How ridiculous, when Paul stood so strongly for righteous, holy behavior. Yet, is there an element of this question in today's Christian emphasis on grace?
Given the preaching and teaching of our time, one would expect Paul's answer to be, "We know we shouldn't go on sinning; but as long as we are in this world we have to sin. So if we should sin, Divine grace will bring us to Heaven anyway."
Such is today's answer. It is enough to make Paul turn over in his grave.
What did Paul say to the question shall we go on sinning? "By no means!" "God forbid such a conclusion from my efforts to turn people from Moses to Christ!"
I wonder if we can catch the vehemence in Paul's response. I wonder if we of today would respond with the same vehemence.
"We died to sin! How can we live in it any longer?"
Our ability to understand all of Paul's epistles hangs on our understanding of four words: "We died to sin."
"We died to sin." What does this mean?
A former holiness movement concluded that there was an experience in which we died to sin, meaning the sinful nature was removed from us root and branch. It no longer was possible for us to sin. There were no compulsions to sin left in us.
I don't think this point of view has gained many followers. No matter how overwhelming a spiritual experience we have, after it is over there are those sins that other people can see—whether or not we are aware of them.
A second interpretation of "we died to sin" is the one that prevails today. The idea is that after we receive Christ we are to count ourselves dead to sin. Sin no longer is an issue. We can't sin in the sense that God sees us through Christ.
When we lie, God sees the truth of Christ. When we commit adultery, God sees the moral purity of Christ. God has saved us by a sovereign, Divine election. We ought to try to do good, but our behavior is not critical. It is God's sovereign salvation that is the only determining issue.
To be continued.