March 15, 2011

A Wicked Question

Romans 6:1-8

Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!
Romans 6:1-2


Just before the verses we read from Romans 6 today, Paul has explained how we are set free from condemnation: “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

Paul then anticipates that some readers will ask this wicked question: “What … then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”

In my 40 years of ministry I’ve heard questions like that. The poet W. H. Auden puts similar words into the mouth of a criminal (King Herod): “I like committing crimes. God likes forgiving them. Really the world is admirably arranged.”

So if there is no condemnation because of the power of the cross, can we just keep on sinning? Paul says, “By no means! We … have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

We must do away with sin in our lives because we have already begun a reality change: “we died with Christ.” Not only did Christ die for us, but we died with him. “Our old self was crucified with him … that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

Paul is absolutely sure of that new reality. Are you?

Holy Spirit, we talk about real life. Give us the faith to believe in the new reality in which we live because we died with Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Stanley Mast

Beginning in 1971, Rev. Stanley Mast has served churches in Missouri, Colorado, and Michigan. After teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary for a few years, he was the minister of preaching at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, until his retirement in 2012. Stan and his wife, Sharon, enjoy time with their two sons and five grandchildren.

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