“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1)
Paul has told them that there is more than enough grace to cover man’s sin problem (Romans 5:20-21). Paul was not discussing the conditions for man to receive pardon. He was simply stating the fact that God’s grace is more than sufficient to cover sin. No one has sinned so much that he cannot be saved. God’s grace is “in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1 cf. Galatians 3:26-27). It can be accessed by faith (Romans 5:1-2).
Paul anticipated a misunderstanding. He knew that some might respond – “Since it is the case that grace is more than sufficient to cover sin, can’t we just continue in sin and let God’s grace cover it?”
“Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus was baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:2-6).
Shall those who have received God’s grace continue in sin? “Certainly not!” (NKJV), “God forbid!” (KJV). The literal language is “let it not be!” meaning – “Away with the thought” (Vincent).
Why should those who have received God’s grace not continue to live a life of sin? First, consider the significance of baptism (Romans 6:2, 4-6). New Testament baptism includes a death to the love and practice of sin (repentance), a burial (immersion in water), and a resurrection to walk in newness of life. J.W. McGarvey commented, “Only the resurrected rise from the grave. Therefore, one who has not fully resolved to live as having died unto sin has no right to be lifted from the waters of baptism. If he is still dead in trespasses and sin, he should remain buried” (McGarvey, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, p. 343). Second, consider the death of Jesus (Romans 6:2). Baptism is into the death of Jesus. It took the blood of Christ to justify man (Romans 5:9; 1 Peter 1:18-19). The love of Christ ought to motivate us to live differently. He died for our sins. Those who continue to sin willfully count the blood of Christ a common (unholy) thing (Hebrews 10:26-29). It is as if they do not mind sending Him to the cross again (Hebrews 6:6). Third, consider the command. Paul commanded – “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:12-13). The old man is to be put to death (Romans 6:6; 8:13; Ephesians 4:22, 24; Colossians 3:5; 3:9).
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (Romans 6:15).
Paul has just told them that they were not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14). He did not mean that they were not amenable to law. [They were, and we are amenable to law (Galatians 6:2; James 1:25; 2:8; Hebrews 10:16 cf. Jeremiah 31:33; Isaiah 2:3; Romans 8:2; 8:6-7; 1 Corinthians 9:21). One cannot sin unless law exists (1 John 3:4; Romans 4:15; 5:13). “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His word is not in us (1 John 1:10)]. He meant that they were not under a legal system alone, without grace, a system which demanded sinless perfection. Robert Taylor, Jr. commented, “They were not under a law system that demanded sinless perfection and condemned in its absence. They were under grace with provisions richly made for pardon…” (Taylor, Studies in Romans, p. 115). R.L. Whiteside commented, “Sin would have dominion over us if we had no means of escape from it, but through grace there is a way to escape sin” (Whiteside, A New Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Saints at Rome, p. 137). Man is not under a system of law only (note the term “law” is not with the definite article in the Greek). He is under a system which includes grace.
Paul anticipated a misunderstanding. He knew that some might respond – “If it is the case that we are not under law but grace, then can’t we continue in sin and let grace cover it?”
“Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slave whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or obedience leading to righteousness?… For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:15-16, 23).
Shall we continue to live a life of sin? “Certainly not!” (NKJV), “God forbid!” (KJV). The literal language is “let it not be!” Meaning – “Away with the thought” (Vincent).
The fact that grace is available to cover sin does not mean that one can continue to live a life of sin. God’s grace does not automatically cover a willful life of sin. So long as one keeps on living such a life, there keeps on remaining no more sacrifice for sin (cf. Hebrews 10:26-27).
We must decide whom we will serve. If we choose to serve sin, it will earn us death. If we choose to serve God, it will result in us being given what we don’t deserve, eternal life. Those who choose to serve God, by God’s grace, will be accounted as righteous (Romans 6:16 cf. 4:5). Who do you serve? Thomas Warren has written that there is: (1) No middle inviter between Christ and Satan; (2) No middle message between the truth and false doctrine; (3) No middle gate between the narrow gate and the wide gate; (4) No middle way between the straightened way and the broad way; and (5) No middle destiny between eternal life and eternal punishment (Warren, Jesus – The Lamb Who is a Lion, p. 145).
The choice of whom we will serve should have been made at baptism. We were raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), in righteousness and holiness (Romans 6:17-19).