Read Romans 6
Did you ever read through the Bible and wonder, “Who decided that was the end on the chapter? Why did they break the chapter there?” If you haven’t, you probably are not reading your Bible enough. Until the 13th Century, the books of the Bible were not divided into chapters. Give another century or so and verses would be added.
When I read the 13th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth—that’s the love chapter, I feel compelled to read the end of chapter 12 first.
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
You know what follows…
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
It seems like this transitional verse should belong to the 13th chapter. But I was not consulted. I have read the book of Romans many times before and usually thought that the end of chapter 5 and the beginning of chapter 6 were so integrated that the chapter break between them was something of a disservice.
Here is the discourse presented at the chapter junction in our current text.
The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
Wow! Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound even more? It is a logical question. It seems like an immediate follow-on to what Paul just said. The all you can eat buffet came at one price, why not eat until you are miserable? It’s paid for!
Why not do everything you ever wanted to do without worrying if it offends God or not? You have been saved. Why not?
And so, for those who take notes in your Bibles, draw a small line between the end of chapter 5 and the beginning chapter 6. On the chapter 5 side write, “Salvation.” On the chapter 6 side write, “Discipleship.”
It is a topic that we have covered many times before but it is presented to us now at this chapter break—and it seems to be a very good place to break the chapter.
Grace and salvation are all from God. He gives us the faith to receive them and we are his forever. We do not face the consequences of our sin. What a fantastic gift!
But what’s next? Where do we go from here? How do we respond to this great gift of salvation?
Paul has proceeded with all deliberate speed to bring his readers to this point. He has walked us from creation to sin to death to all falling short and finally to grace that we receive through faith; yet we find that we are not at the end of the story. Life in these bodies continues. We are saved from sin and from death. We will not know the wrath of God, but…
How will we live knowing how much of what we deserved that we escaped?
How will we live knowing how much love and favor that we did not deserve that we have received?
How will we live?
Paul brings us to discipleship. He frames it in terms of the old self having died and that we are no longer a slave to sin. Death has no power over us. We are dead to sin and alive to God. We live to Christ. We are free from sin and therefore must be a slave to righteousness.
What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound even more is a thought of the carnal mind and not of the creation that we have become. We are wholly owned by God, by the blood of Christ himself.
We have not been set free from sin and death to pursue the desires of our carnal mind. We have not been liberated to live in anarchy but in true service to our Lord.
As we read Paul’s letters, we need to understand that Jesus called tradesmen as his disciples, fishermen and a tax collector for sure but no real scholars. This was important because we are reminded that all can answer the call to follow Jesus.
But we also note, that after his resurrection, Jesus did call a biblical scholar—a Pharisee—to take the good news to much of the known world. And when you get a man trained in theological and scholarly thought, you get scholarly and literary correspondence.
Paul did what scholars and speakers and professionals do when they want to make a point. He talked a lot about a little. He used many examples and literary tools to make his point.
We were crucified with Christ. In our baptism we were buried with Christ. In his resurrection we are united with him.
The old self died. The body of sin that once enslaved us died with it. We are not that person anymore.
Because we live with Christ, sin must not reign in our mortal body.
Look at it this way. Before you received your salvation and sin reigned you did things that you would be ashamed of now and you know that they were of no benefit. They were leading you on a path of destruction. We like Paul’s phraseology here. The wages of sin is death. It sticks with us.
It doesn’t sound grammatically correct at first glance but it sticks with us. The wages of sin is death.
But now that you have been set free from sin you can enjoy the benefits of being God’s slave. Hold on! Is this Paul or Tom challenging us here with this dichotomy or paradox or oxymoron? And the answer is, “Yes.”
The benefits of slavery, really?
God has complete ownership over you. This does not negate the fact that he called you friend. It reinforces the fact that he rescued us, purchased us, redeemed us from a path of destruction. We are bought at a price.
God set us upon a path of holiness that leads to true life and eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So we ask…
Are we so underwhelmed by the gift of God that we desire to continue in sin?
The person who is lost and does not know Christ does not know any other gratification that satisfying himself. Power, greed, lust, money, lying and cheating, and coveting of all sorts are just a way of life. That’s all that they know.
There has to be something in this life for me and people without Christ are seeking that something. They miss the mark but we have been given that something; so why would we seek after these things.
Jesus told his followers—that’s us today—to seek after his Father’s kingdom and his righteousness and all the things that the godless world craves that we need, would be given to us. Jesus asks us to look at the creation itself and see how wonderfully God provides for it. Trust him that now that we are his he will richly provide for us. He owns us.
We are no longer people who crave the things of this world. We are people who belong to God and who long to live fully in his kingdom.
We often find ourselves blessed with many things of this world that our heavenly Father favors us with as we seek him and his kingdom but we are free from the wages of sin.
Shall we go on sinning so we can enjoy God’s grace even more? No!
We are not those people! Those thoughts are no longer our thoughts! We belong to God. The old person that we once were is dead. That old person did not rise with Christ. We are what Paul describes through his discourse with the churches a new creation. In our hearts and in our minds we have received by faith the grace and salvation of our Lord. We are new!
These mortal bodies in which we are encased are sometimes slow to respond to this newness—stay tuned for chapter 7, but we are God’s. That is unchangeable and we need to firmly hold on to that.
Shall we go on sinning? We must be declarative in answering, “No!”
“I’ll try” means we have not accepted the fact that this life is not ours any more. We belong to God. We are his slave. We have never enjoyed so much freedom as we do now but we belong to God. We are bought and paid for. We are his.
Shall we go on living as if life in the flesh is all we will ever know?
OK, reality check, take a breath: It is not as easy to live this way as it is to answer this way, but this answer is the beginning of our discipleship.
We say no to sin and yes to following Jesus.
We say no to sin and yes to being God’s righteousness.
We say no to sin and yes to being fully owned by God.
Yes, you are still his child.
Yes, you are still his friend.
Yes, he owns every fiber of you.
You are his!
What shall we shall then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound even more? We know that God’s grace has covered every sin we have committed and will commit so we are under no pressure to turn away from sin for our salvation; but our hearts should compel us to do so for righteousness. We are his righteousness.
By the blood of Jesus, we have been made his righteousness! We have decided to follow Jesus. Therein lies our discipleship. Therein lies the realization of the new creation.
What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound even more? We join Paul in saying “No!” In that simple word we begin our discipleship. Discipleship, unlike the gift which is ours for the asking and received in the instant, involves the rest of our lives.
For now, we say no to sin and yes to discipleship. I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.
It is time for us to be declarative in our lives. It is time that we say “No!” to the old self. It is time to bury that old, sinful creature that we used to be and truly start following Jesus.
Jesus said that his yoke was easy and his burden was light.
There will be struggle and even some hardship and some may even have some persecution but we know this is our calling. We are called to be disciples of our Master, not just gift recipients.
We are given life through the grace of God but we are called to discipleship. If you have never given this any real consideration, please do so before you head hits the pillow tonight.
Considering our salvation and the fact that God’s grace reaches farther than our sin can ever go, what will we say then: Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound even more?
Be declarative in your life: No!
If you have not done so already, begin this day to say “No” to everything that is set against God and begin your walk in discipleship.
Declare in your life today:
I am dead to sin.
I am alive in Christ!