November 29, 2019

Shall We Go on Sinning?

Romans 5:18-6:14

Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

—  Romans 6:1

A worshiper at a Navy chapel commented, “My favorite part of the worship service is the ‘assurance of pardon.’ Then I know I’m good to go for the next week.” A weekly re­minder of God’s grace inspires him to continue living for Christ!

As Paul warns, though, it’s important that we do not take God’s grace for granted, as if grace simply gives us a license to go on sinning. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a World War II martyr, agreed. He taught against “cheap grace”—or “preach­ing forgiveness without requiring repentance”—because God’s grace for us was so costly. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, gave up his life to save us from sin.

Paul asks, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Of course not! That would disrespect God’s grace and cheapen Jesus’ sacrifice. I’m reminded that when I was a boy, the worst scolding I could receive was “We didn’t raise you that way.” My folks didn’t sacrifice so that I could just misbehave.

Yet we still fall short. So when we do, we must confess our sins and profess our faith in the Savior’s sacrifice for us.

Remember, baptism unites us with Jesus’ death and resurrection, setting us free from sin. “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” Paul isn’t calling us to cheap grace, but to the richest life possible in Jesus today!

Father, forgive us for times when we have taken your grace for granted. Spirit of God, keep us from sin so that we may walk the way of life with Jesus. In his name, Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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