Grace and Peace to You from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we have seen in the previous weeks, we are all sinners. Whether we are Jew or Gentile, having the law or simply having consciences, we are condemned under the Law of God. However, thanks to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ we are granted salvation and grace, so that we will not be condemned to death and darkness.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Continuing in Sin
There have been heretical teachings over the years that argued that, in order to receive grace, we should sin as much as possible before repenting. This is the sort of teaching that Paul wants to head off when he asks whether we should sin more so that we can get more grace. After all, the more wicked you are, the more powerful God’s work is when you are spared the condemnation for all that sin, right?
However, we who are saved are sinners no longer. We were previously sinners destined to live and die in our sins and be damned for them, but now we are covered by the blood of the Lamb. There is no longer sin in our lives, so why should we seek after more sin? Our old lives of sin are over, for they died with Christ and were buried with Him. As Jesus rose from the dead in glory and power, so we who have been reborn in Christ are not the same people that we once were. In salvation and the second birth that comes with it, we are like unto newborn babies who have yet to become set in their ways.
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
What is the origin point of our new lives? It is not the time we came to believe, nor the time we were baptized, nor any such thing – it is the very moment Christ himself died. His death made it so we could die to sin, and his resurrection made it so we could likewise be born again. Christ was resurrected with a body without death, and so we who are reborn in Christ are reborn with spirits that will not die in sin. When he was crucified, so was our old and sinful self.
Can a dead man sin? What is there that a dead man can do to commit any sin – a dead man lacks thought, word, and deed. In the same way, we have died to sin and can no longer live in sin as we once did.
Christ died the same death as any man, though he did not do anything to merit death (for death is the wage for sin, and he had no sin within him). When he rose from the dead on the third day, he rose without death, and he continues to live and reign at the Father’s right hand. Death no longer has any power over Christ, and those of us who have died with Him are also unbound by death (though our flesh will die, and we will receive perfected bodies on the Last Day). Our God is a God who Lives, and those who serve Him will also live.
As we are dead to sin and death, we should live as those who are dead to sin and death. Our flesh is as yet unredeemed, and so we will continue to be tempted by all lusts and evils, but we need not heed those temptations. We once served sin and death, but now we are reborn in spirit to serve our God who has given us new life. Our bodies are for His glory, not for sin, and it is the struggle of every Christian to resist evil and do what God demands.
From Law to Grace
We are dead to sin. Sin has no power over us any longer, for we have been given life by the perfect giver of law and grace. We were condemned under the Law, for we could do nothing to satisfy the requirements of the Law, but now we live under grace.
We who live in grace should not give ourselves to serve sin and evil. If we continue to live as sinners, we remain servants to sin and not servants to the same God who has given us more than we could ever imagine. If we live to serve God, studying His Word and seeking to live in accordance with its teachings, we are something else entirely. When we are made free from sin and seek to serve God, we are instead servants of righteousness.
Now, this is entirely from our perspective. All these things are written so that we who are simple men might understand and act, but we do not any longer act of our own agency (at least, not entirely). Were we entirely to live as we chose, we would remain dead in our sins, but in our rebirth we are given a new spirit that seeks to serve God. It is something difficult to grasp, that we are saved entirely by God and are made to serve His will by Him, and it looks to us as though we must choose. But God does in us something interesting, for he adapts our will to align with His.
Under the Law that condemned us, we were servants to sin and righteousness had no power over us. But now we are made new, being servants to righteousness and freed entirely from sin’s power.
Sin and Death
Everything we did as sinners was tainted by wickedness. That wickedness made it so that all of our actions were violations of the Law, and the punishment for such violation is and always was death. We look back at every wicked thing we are now ashamed of (even if we were proud before), and we know that it was another nail in our own coffins.
However, we are made new. The old, wicked, dying selves that we possessed are now dead, and we are made to be able to do good works that are untainted by that wickedness. As such, though even our best deeds condemned us to death before, now our good deeds resound to holiness and eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us Pray
God be thanked, that we who were the servants of sin are now made free from sin and made to become servants of righteousness. This is a gift we could do nothing to merit even in part, but God has given it to us through His own sacrifice and toil so that we might be made new. The old is dead, and behold all is made new in Christ.
Praise be to our God, the Lord who Provides, the Lord who is with us, the Lord who Saves. Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ who has paid our debts and brought us into the kingdom of God. For we were enemies of God and hated Him, but now we are His servants who serve Him with fear and adoration.
Grant us, O Lord, the power and will to serve You. Make us who were vessels of sin and death to be instruments of righteousness and goodness, to do those things You desire for us to do.
We ask these things for the sake of Your Son, our Lord, Jesus. We ask these things of You because You are the giver of all good gifts, as demonstrated when you sent not only your Son to be with us but also your Holy Spirit to abide with us. To You be all glory and honor, now and forever.
Go now in the fullness of faith, knowing all that Christ has done for you. Pray without ceasing for discernment and wisdom, to do that which is good and shun that which is evil, so that we may be instruments of God’s will. Amen.