Summary: No Christian continues in habitual sin who has by faith died to self and received the new life of Christ. Those who have died to sin are alive to God & it becomes possible for them to live for Christ.
DYING TO LIVE
[We now begin a new section of Romans that deal with the doctrine of sanctification or the Christlike growth of disciples.] The Bible has just declared that where sin abounded, God's grace super abounded. What wonderful news this is! It means that no matter how deep the stain of man's sin, the grace of God is greater. Thus there is hope for all, and men should praise God for His amazing grace!
Yet this great truth about the gospel is liable to grievous distortion by deceived men. For even the saved man cannot be turned over to his own wisdom and his own understanding. We are not perfect nor sanctified after we are saved but need to be discipled to mature into Christlikeness. The lack of Christian growth or discipleship in the early church exposed Paul to misrepresentation by his critics and misinterpretation by the self-justifiers. The self-justifiers were those who refused to die to the old man by the power of the cross and be raised to walk in new life by the power of the resurrection. They continued on in their life of sin. Thus they must justify their way of self-life to continue their claim of salvation.
No Christian continues in habitual sin who has by faith died to self and received the new life of Christ (CIT). Those who have died to sin are alive to God & it becomes possible for them to live for Christ. Self-justifiers though want to indulge themselves freely in this world, without any fear of forfeiting the next.
I. DEAD or ALIVE TO SIN, 1-2.
II. DEAD and BURIED, 3-4.
III. DEAD, BURIED, AND RAISED, 5-7.
Our first thought is are you DEAD OR ALIVE TO SIN (6:1-2).
Verse 1 poses questions concerning God's amazing grace and forgiveness. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?"
If grace received gives "much more" triumph over sin "what shall we say then?" ...concerning the results from the exultant victory of grace over sin. Paul sees the possible perversion of this glorious grace into an opening for those who want no law or no restraint. Are we "to continue in sin" without remorse or repentance since there is grace? Paul raises the question of practicing sin as a continuous action here. There are people who actually think that God's pardon gives them liberty to live life as they please without penalty. These individuals turn the doctrine of salvation by the grace of God into a license for immoral living (Jude 4).
Every age produces its quota of such deceivers. An example is the Russian Monk RASPUTIN. For a while he was a very influential favorite of Emperor Nicholas II. His doctrine seems to have been, "The more a person sins, the more grace he will receive. So sin with gusto."
The point of 5:20 though is not "to excuse sin but to glorify divine grace" [Martin Luther. Epistle to the Romans, p 83]. Each Christian faces the temptation to take advantage of grace. Who of us has not presumed on God's grace? Though Paul understood the temptation he could not tolerate its motive. Grace is indeed freedom, but God's grace is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin (Gal. 5:13). Whoever uses grace as a pretext to sin shows contempt for the Christ who died for sin. [James Edward. New International Biblical Com. Romans. Hendrickson Publ. 1992. p 158].
In Romans chapter 5 Christ dies for sinners. In chapter 6 believers themselves must die sin. The first of the 16 times in chapter 6 believers are called on to die to sin is in verse 2. "May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?"
Paul recoiled in horror at the very idea of continuing in sin! We must have a definite conscious break with the old way of life. It is a terrible thing to trade on the mercy of God by making it an excuse for sinning. Think of it in human terms. How despicable it would be for a child to consider himself free to sin because he knew his father would forgive.
Paul reminds us that something decisive has taken place in his and our lives. By the grace of God we have "died to" sinful selves and to the allurements and enticements of this sinful world (Col. 3:3). For a Christian, continuing to live in sin is not only impermissible, it is impossible! To be sure Paul teaches believers will commit acts of sin until the day they are released from this earthly existence (7:14ff). But the notion that a child of God should continue in voluntary sin and even encourage it produces a revulsion in Paul's heart.