Jun 16, 2019
Originally Presented on April 29th, 2007
Scripture Reading: Romans 6:1-4
Having presented the doctrine of justification by faith, in full elaboration, Paul now addresses a possible misinterpretation of this marvelous doctrine. He knows from experience that a question sometimes arises in the mind of a hearer. "If a man is justified by faith alone and not by his works … and if, as sin increases, God's grace in Christ is more than sufficient to cover it all … then, once a man is justified it does not matter how he lives."
Thus we read in Romans 6:1: "Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?" The contention is this, "Won't the doctrine of justification by faith encourage people to sin?" Paul spends chapter 6 answering that question. The first half of chapter 6 (verses 1-14) is his doctrinal answer and the second half of the chapter (verses 15-23) is his answer in experiential terms.
Paul starts his doctrinal answer to this question by reasoning with Christians based on the meaning of their baptism. Baptism is a picture of burial with Christ and resurrection with Him. How can I continue to live in sin now that I have died to it? To know that something within (the penalty for sin and even the reign of sin) me has died, and to experience, to some degree of the power of sin having been broken in my life . . . how can I continue in a life characterized by sin? Paul's answer is not only that Christians should not continue in sin as a lifestyle, but that Christians do not continue in such a way of living. This is not to say that Christians become perfect, but that there is genuine, and ongoing, change toward righteousness in the lives of authentic Christians.