Summary: Paul connects a response to an opponent’s longing to cheapen Grace with how far God was willing to go (BAPTISM) to show us how much he wants to free us from sin.
There are a number of responses to God’s Word that I simply do not understand. Some people for example, feel they can live their lives as recipients of God’s Grace without ever spending quality time in God’s Word. There are others who seek out what I like to call cheap Grace. Cheap Grace is simply taking God for granted. Paul addresses the cheap Grace opponents. He responds to them with these words, “What then shall we say? Shall we be remaining in the sin in order that Grace may increase? Perish the thought! We such as died to the sin, how shall we still be living in it?” In other words, Paul is letting us know that we are to avoid living contrary to the Will of God and we are certainly to avoid sinning even though the Lord has covered us in Grace. We are not to take wrongful advantage of the Grace and Mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by willfully and purposefully sinning just so that you can test the Grace of God or as Paul’s opponents sought to do, receive larger doses of Grace. That would make as much sense as a person standing in their burning home and asking, “Should I stay here in my burning home so I will continue to get undivided attention from the firemen seeking to save me?”
Paul offers his negative response to these people seeking to cheapen God’s Grace when he says, “PERISH THE THOUGHT!” My personal translation is a bit more modern. I would have responded with these words, “ARE YOU INSANE?” God’s Grace is a wonderful gift, one that should be appreciated and one that should be honored. We honor God when we seek to live according to His Will and his plan. We honor God when we shout out “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions and “YES” to Christ. We also honor God’s Grace when we seek to correct errors. 2 Timothy speaks on this as we read, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Tim 4:2)
There are thoughts and reasons outside of Christianity and even within Christianity that we stand firm against. We outwardly reject that which seeks to take away or at the very least cover over the holiness and most merciful work of our Lord. We stand against it even when it comes out of our own lips. It is true we have all found ways to cheapen the Grace of God whether it comes by refusing to worship or by adopting ideas that lighten the burden of God’s laws or limits the goodness of God’s Grace. Thankfully, we have God’s Word that seeks to correct us in our “OLD ADAM” behavior. We also have a loving God that looks upon the repentant heart of man and still has Mercy on us thanks in full the Work of Jesus Christ.
But when it is time for Paul to correct and admonish he goes all out in this case because he wants to explain to his opponents just how far God is willing to go in order to remove sin from our lives. Earlier Paul said, “WE DIED TO SIN HOW CAN WE LIVE IT IN ANY LONGER?” Now, Paul wants to explain just how we indeed DIED TO SIN! This sort of death can’t be rested upon our promises or our good intentions that once we learned about Jesus we would make every effort to figuratively DIE TO SIN! Leaning on such a human promise on what we do will leave little comfort in the end for us to lean on. Instead all the changes that take place within us come from God. That way Satan has no ground for attack. If he comes to us one night and says “your promises to remain faithful to God are pathetic” we can respond and say, “Why Yes Satan you are correct, that is why I lean totally on God’s promises. And God says I have died to sin by what He has done for me. And what God has done is take me into his death.
Paul now explains further just how God went all out to remove sin and to provide an eternal promise when he says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Here we get into the depths of Baptism. Baptism is an area of contention between some Christian churches. There are some who claim that Baptism is but a mere symbol. It is believed that Baptism is an outward expression of our faith and commitment to God and that any words or phrases that talk about Baptism is merely symbolical. Now to this group I lovingly would like to ask you a question. Do you remember what happened to the men who were bit by poisonous Serpents? You can find this accounting in Numbers 21:4-9. The Word of God tells us that because the people grew impatient and spoke against God, the Lord sent upon them venomous snakes. Many Israelites were bit and died. The remaining people cried out in fear saying “WE HAVE SINNED” and so Moses did something that would become a MEANS OF HIS GRACE upon these people. Moses told them to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live. Now I ask those who call Baptism a symbol this question, “What saved the people of God from dying by way of the venom? Were they saved from the bronze snake or from the Word of God?” The response of course is that the people were saved because God made a promise and attached that promise to the bronze snake. The snake had no power! Only the Word of God believed, conveyed life for the people who were on their way to certain death. Now here we are, a people who were dying in our sins, and God fashioned a new MEANS OF GRACE in order to apply his Grace directly and physically upon us. I usually end my conversation with my Christian opponents to Baptism with these words, “if you can believe that God’s Word was attached to the Bronze snake and brought healing to His people through that image because God said “anyone who is bitten can look at it and live” then how can you deny that he does it again with Baptism?