Shall We Continue in Sin?
Grace never gives a margin to sin. There are some who go so far as to use "salvation by Grace" as an excuse for laxity in their morals; they vainly imagine that the saved may live as they list.
The great question that confronts us today is asked in the opening verse of our Scripture lesson (Romans 6:1 ): "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound?"
Romans 5:1-21 has demonstrated the power of superabounding Grace. The early chapters of Romans proved all under sin; the 5th chapter proved that Grace abounded over sin; and that justification, through faith, came upon all who believe.
The Holy Spirit goes on to discuss a most vital matter. If one is saved by the Grace of God, made possible by the Blood of Christ; then, may the saved continue to sin with impunity, still expecting the same grace to operate? Should a believer run to excess in sin, in order to make "grace" the more glorious?
That God has provided in Christ for the possible sins of believers, we do not doubt; that God has promised forgiveness, through Christ's cleansing Blood we surely know: however, such facts do not and cannot lend license to Christians to sin.
The doctrine of security in Christ, likewise, affords no license to sin. The fact that the saved are safe in Christ, and that Jesus promised security to His followers should not encourage God's people to be careless and indifferent.
Shall we continue in sin, because grace has abounded?
Shall we continue in sin, because we are secure in Christ Jesus?
We are going to deal with these most vital queries. Step by step we will develop the Holy Spirit's answer.
Before we begin we wish to say that God has called us unto holiness and not unto nnholiness. Christians may sin, but they should not, and they need not sin. A believer who is overtaken in a fault, may be restored, and "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"; but when Christians continue in sin in any ruthless and willful sense, they will find that "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."
It never pays to sin every act of sin on the part of Christians will bring its full weight of sorrow and chastening.
I. THE MATTER STATED (Romans 6:1-2 )
The question of the first verse, is the subject of this study: "Shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound?" The reply to the query is stated in two short, but meaningful words: "GOD FORBID!"
The words "God forbid," almost suggest the thrill of horror that such a question brings to the heart.
The words also suggest that God's reply is a prompt, unequivocal, and unargueable response impossible.
The words likewise suggest the inexpressible shame that surrounds even the asking of so horrible a question God seems to say, "For very shame that such a thought could ever have found place in a believer's mind."
In all the Word of God there is no leeway given to sinning.
In all the Grace of God toward sinners, there is no condoning of sin, either in the believer or the unbeliever.
In all the purposes of God, there is no permit to continue in sin.
The fuller answer of the Spirit to the question, "Shall we continue in sin?" is given in Romans 6:2, "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
If one asks, "Shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound?" he possesses no proper appreciation of our union with Christ in His death.
We are dead to sin because when Christ died, we died: our sins were carried away by Him.
The Cross of Christ stands for our death to our old life. Paul wrote, "I am crucified with Christ." He also wrote: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
When we see ourselves dead with Christ on the Cross, we will be ready to concede that we dare not live any longer in sin.
Howard A. Banks says, "The Christian in putrid Colosse or in putrid America but joined to the omnipotent, risen Christ can give to absolute death the tyrant of his once conquering sensual lusts. But he is to carry his victory also into the details of life, and put to death temper, malice, and every other sin. "The Christian character is an unsinnmg character," says the great Anglican churchman, Bishop Motile. "This is by no means to say that the man who is a Christian is an unsinning person (1 John 1:8 ). But when he sins he should remember he is out of character as a Christian."
II. THE DOCTRINE SYMBOLIZED (Romans 6:3-5 )
Baptism not only symbolizes the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it symbolizes our death, to sin; and our resurrection to walk in newness of life.
How can we who have been buried and raised with Christ in baptism live any longer in sin?
We have plainly professed that our old life is gone we once walked as the Gentiles walked in all uncleanness, but now we are risen with Christ to walk in newness of life: now we seek the things which are above, and not the things which are upon the earth.
Christians should put off their old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; and put on the new man, which, after God, is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him.
It may be all right, humanly speaking, for unregenerate men and women to fulfill the lusts of their flesh, and of their mind; but it is all wrong for those who have put on Christ in baptism. God has called us unto holiness, and we need to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. If we have been quickened together with Christ, and raised up together, and made to sit together in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, we dare not longer walk as the Gentiles walked.
When we came from the baptismal waters we came on the Canaan side of life. Egypt and its flesh pots were left far behind us. The will of God is our sanctification, and that we should abstain from fornication, and know how to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor.
We dare not drag the "signet" of our confession down into the mud and the mire of the swineherd. Remember the words: "Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin; * * Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God, through Christ Jesus."
III. THE DOCTRINE SUSTAINED (Romans 6:10-13 )
Because Christ died unto sin once, and because He liveth unto God, we are told to "reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin," and "alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
We are taught, that sin should not reign in our mortal body. We are not to obey sin in the lusts thereof. We are not to yield our members as "instruments of unrighteousness unto sin," for God has said, "Sin shall not have dominion over you."
God expects each believer to walk in victory over all sin. We are to reckon ourselves dead unto sin; that is, we are to live without so much as recognizing our old man. We are to act as though he was dead, even though he be alive. We are to give one great big "No" to our old man.
The Lord would not tell us that sin should not reign in our mortal bodies, if it were impossible for us to be victors over sin. God is abundantly able to give us dominion over sin's sway.
We need not yield our members as "instruments of unrighteousness unto sin." God has given us an impregnable armor, and no dart of the wicked one can touch the one fully clad.
This idea that Christians must, of necessity, be "up" sometimes, and "down" sometimes is all wrong. Our constant place should be that of an "overcomer."
IV. THE FAILURE OF THE FLESH (Romans 7:14-21 )
As one reads of the conflicts in this Scripture, and of the seeming defeat, he begins to feel that the message of Romans 6:1-23, is impossible. How many are unhappily swayed by sin's seductive power!
Truly the flesh can, in itself, never reach the place of dominion over sin.
No matter how sincere the desire, or how ardent the longings to live "dead unto sin," it cannot be done in the strength of the natural self-life. Self spells failure. Self speaks on this wise: "What I would do, I do not"; and, "What I would not, that I do."
One man vainly said, "When I put my foot down, it stays put." He meant when he made up his mind to live right, he did so. Alas, alas, how miserably he failed.
Another man said, "Unless any one can conquer himself, he is not a real man." Yet, how, signally he, himself, failed.
He that trusts in his own flesh to overcome sins of the flesh, will meet ignominious failure.
The world is too alluring; the devil is too subtle and strong; and the flesh is too corrupt to be overcome by human nature.
We ask, Is failure necessary? Is defeat the norm of the Christian? We quote some striking sentences:
"It is reasonable to expect victory over every sin, because in this way only is a Christian life of true strength and greatness and joy possible. A Christian man is in absolute need of victory. Without it there can be no peace. This is true of nations as it is true in our conflict with evil, for compromise never gives peace. 'If we are to wage a triumphant warfare, we must have no untaken forts in the rear.' A life of defeat means the stunting of spiritual growth, ineffectiveness of intercession, fruitlessness in service, deadness in the study of the Scriptures, and joylessness in our daily Christian experience. With unconquered sin in the heart, there must result a numbing of the spiritual faculties, an increasing inability to hear the will of God accurately, and the weight of a spirit of sadness and fear constantly oppressing the soul in its aspirations. Can anything be imagined more awful than for one to catch glimpses of moral or spiritual greatness and power, to see visions of possible purity, and yet to remain in the valley of despondency below, seemingly unable to ascend?
The Word of God cannot fail to give the vision. We never open it but the glory of life in Christ comes overwhelmingly before us. It needs no argument, every Christian will agree, that for peace and power and joy the life of victory is a necessity. Let us quickly recognize the complementary truth, then, that what God has made necessary in the life of His redeemed children He has also abundantly provided. If victory is necessary (and this whole problem will never be satisfactorily settled until it becomes just that for each of us), then victory is possible. My God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 ). God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8 ). For every need, for every day, against every evil power, His 'grace is sufficient' (2 Corinthians 12:9 ). His purpose for us which makes victory necessary is not less than His power to make it possible."
V. THE SEQUENCE OF SELF-FAILURE (Romans 7:24-25 )
How weird is this cry of one who has tried and failed! Could words be more pathetic: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" The believer overcome by sin, feels that he is waging a losing battle; feels that he is dragging around a dead body; a body tied to him, and from which he cannot be loosed. No wonder he is wretched!
Have you ever said that you would not become angry? You broke your promise. You tried, but you were overcome.
Have you ever purposed, in all earnestness, that you would be happy, and cheerful and throw your gloom and spells of despondency to the winds? You thought you would succeed; yet, you found, to your sorrow, that you were defeated.
Have you ever made up your mind to be loving, and gentle, and good, and patient? Yet, although you tried, and tried hard, you were overwhelmed with defeat.
You discovered that when you would do good, evil was present with you. You knew that God had said, "Sin shall not have dominion over you," and yet sin did have dominion. You meant to please God; you intended to follow after righteousness and holiness; but you found another law ruling in your members, and bringing you into captivity to the law of sin, which was in your members. Then, you too, cried, "O wretched man that I am!"
Did you also cry, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Did you see your own failure and despair? Or, did you seek for victory in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Wilber M. Smith has well said:
"In the hours of defeat, of repeated and tragic failure, in the agony of shameful subjection to some sin, there must come to the mind of every child of God the great question: After all, is this matter of victory a dream of men, a fine but unattainable ideal, or is it the undoubted teaching of the Word of God? Is a daily life of glorious victory possible for me? I long for it, but can I really have it?"
VI. THE SECRET OF SURE VICTORY (Romans 7:25 ; Romans 8:1 )
After the wail of woe, described in Romans 7:24, "O wretched man that I am"; we find the inquiry, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Then, there follows these words; "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Thus we turn from defeat to victory all because we have found the Victor, even the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Gabriel made his announcement to Joseph, he said, "Thou shalt call His Name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins." He saves not in, but from their sins: not from the penalty of sin alone, but from sin's power in the daily life.
Concerning the raised Lazarus, Christ said, "Loose him and let him go"; can we feel other than that he wants us to be loosed from our sins?
Christ is the One stronger than Satan, who came to open the prison to them who were bound. He came to set the captive free; He came to deliver us from evil; He came to lead us in the train of His triumph, and to make us more than conquerors through Him.
Christ prayed to the Father saying, "Keep through Thine own Name those whom Thou hast given Me." He also prayed, "Keep them from the evil," or "from the evil one" (A. S. V.).
We now approach Romans 8:2 of Romans 8:1-39 : "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Christ not only can set us free, but He has "delivered us out of the power of darkness" (A. S. V.).
Jesus Christ met Satan and vanquished Him; He is now set down at the Father's right hand, far above all principality and powers; and we, thank God, are set down with Him. His victory is ours.
VII. THE SPIRIT THE SECRET OF THE OVERCOMING LIFE (Romans 8:3-4 )
It will do us good to mark the words "What the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh." We have already seen that defeat comes to those who walk after the flesh.
It will thrill us to note what God wrought by sending Jesus Christ in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. First, He condemned sin in the flesh, because Christ died for sinners; and then, He died that sin should not have dominion over us.
It will lead us on to full victory if we observe what God says about the way that righteousness may be obtained in our walk. Here is His statement: "That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
What is it to walk after the Spirit?
There is a verse where Ruth said to Naomi, "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."
Are we willing to say to the Spirit what Ruth said to Naomi? Will we follow after the Spirit, as the hart follows after the water-brook? When we walk in the Spirit, we do not fill up the lusts of the flesh.
It is through walking in the Spirit that we will be able to mortify the deeds of the flesh.
How happy we should be, and how secure we are against Satan's attempts! We are made victors, not by any power that we ourselves possess. First, Christ dwelleth in us; secondly, the Father has come and taken up His abode in us; and, thirdly, the Holy Spirit dwells in us therefore, we are thrice fortified, and no power can be our undoing. Are we not strengthened with His all-power? Hear God speak, "Ye * * have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."
"THAT IS WHAT I WANT"
The pastor of a certain church in Manchester, England, was fairly besieged by a certain woman with requests to pray for her husband. They would nearly succeed in winning the husband, when this woman would fly into a violent temper and upset everything, Her husband would say, "Well, Mary, if that is religion, I don't want it." Finally the pastor told her that the fault was hers; that she must overcome her temper, and the Lord would give her grace to do it. In her shame and despair she took the matter to the Lord, and He gave her the victory. The time for spring cleaning came. She had just gotten a new lamp hung in the hall and a new carpet laid when John came home, carrying something on his shoulder, not knowing about the new lamp, and there was a clattering and a breaking up of things. He expected a row, but instead a quiet woman looked over the stairs and said, "Never mind, husband; it's all right; we can get a new lamp." And he said, "Mary, what's the matter?" "Oh, my dear," she said, "I have trusted the Lord Jesus to cure me of my temper." He said, "Well, if He has cured you, come right down and pray for me, for that is what I want" And the pastor says he was converted that day. From the King's Business.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Romans 6". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany