Should we sin bigger to make grace bigger? If grace super-abounds where sin abounds (Rom. 5:20), should we make sin abound so that grace abounds all the more. It seems to make sense to us, doesn’t it? It obviously made sense to Paul’s readers too. If greater sin makes grace greater, surely we should sin the greatest sins to make grace even greater. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1). Should we sin bigger to make grace bigger? Should we sin the greatest sins to show the greatness of grace?
This is obviously an extremely important question and our answer will be hugely influential on our Christian lives. So, let’s see how Paul answers in in Romans 6:1-11.
In general terms we can summarize the first four chapters of Romans as follows:
- Chapter 1. The Gentiles are guilty
- Chapter 2. The Jews are guilty
- Chapter 3:1-19. Everyone’s guilty
- Chapter 3:20-31. Get from deadly guilt to healthy joy through faith in Jesus.
- Chapter 4. Follow Abraham’s example of faith in the promises and you’ll inherit the world.
- Chapter 5:1-5. God invites us into his love through trouble
- Chapter 5:6-11. God proves he loves us (with the graces of substitution, propitiation, and reconciliation)
- Chapter 5:12-21. God proves he loves us with the grace of representation.
- Chapter 6:1-11: Super-abounding grace means super-abounding holiness.
Why shouldn’t we sin bigger to make grace bigger?
1. WE DIED WITH CHRIST AND TO SIN
When Christ died, we died with Christ
Truth 1: Christ is every Christian’s representative (Rom. 5:12-21)
Truth 2: When Christ died and was buried, every Christian died and was buried with him. All of us who have been baptized into (“united with”) Christ Jesus were baptized into (“united with”) his death” (3). We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death (4). We have been united with him in a death like his (5). We know that our old self was crucified with him (6). Now if we have died with Christ (8).
Christ acted as the representative of all his people, the one for the many. Therefore, whatever he did, his people are regarded as having done. They were united to him and with him throughout his birth, life, and death. We are therefore regarded as having lived his life and died his death. He died for us and we died with him. We are identified with him in all he did and was done to him. We have a perfect solidarity with him.
When Christ died to sin, we died to sin
Truth 1: When Christ died, he died to sin. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all (10).
Truth 2: We died with Christ and therefore we died to sin as well. How can we who died to sin still live in it? (2). So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin (11).
Truth 3: Dying to sin means being freed from a legal connection to sin. Death severs all legal relationships. Our old self was crucified with him…For one who has died has been set free from sin (6-7). Just as Christ’s death severed (freed from) all his legal connection to and relationship with sin/guilt, so his death severed (freed from) our legal connection to and relationship with sin/guilt. This was a once-for-all, unrepeatable, decisive, emphatic, and effective separation and disconnection.
As much as Christ was severed from his legal connection to sin, so we are to reckon/consider ourselves severed from all legal connection to sin/guilt. It’s not “imagine this to be true” but “consider this as really true.” Be fully persuaded and convinced. Travel back in time to see how much Christ was freed/severed from sin and consider yourselves equally free/severed from sin/guilt. View yourselves like this. Make this part of your identity. It’s not “Die to sin” but “Think of yourselves as already dead to sin/guilt.”
CHANGING OUR STORIES WITH GOD’S STORY
Time travel to the cross by faith. “Consider yourselves dead to sin” is the first exhortation in Romans. Paul is saying, “Go back in time to the cross and see yourself as freed from sin’s legal hold as much as Christ was.” Just as the older slaves found it hard to see themselves as free even after the Declaration of Emancipation, so Christians can struggle to see themselves as free from sin even after the cross’s Declaration of Emancipation.
Die to sin by faith. This is not sanctification, but prepares the way for sanctification. The more we can see ourselves as dead to sin in the past, the more we will die to sin in the present. “Our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (6),
WHEN CHRIST DIED TO SIN
I DIED TO SIN
SO I WILL DIE TO SIN
So, I died with Christ. Did I also rise with Christ?
2. WE LIVE WITH CHRIST AND TO GOD
When Christ arose, we arose
Truth 1: When Christ arose, every Christian arose with him. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his (5). Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him (8).
When Christ lived to God, we lived to God
Truth 1: When Christ arose, he rose to a new kind of life. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God (9-10). It was not only a life severed from sin’s penalty and consequences, but a life for God completely unhindered by his previous legal relationship to sin, guilt, and death.
Truth 2: We rose with Christ and therefore rose to a new kind of life also. In order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (4). How do we get that newness of life? You also must consider yourselves…alive to God in Christ Jesus (11).
Christ’s post-tomb life was very different to his pre-tomb life. He was completely disconnected from death and completely connected to life. He lived to God before the tomb, but it was a life impacted by sin, death, and God’s anger. He lived to God after the tomb on a different level, unhampered by sin, death, and God’s anger. There was nothing between him and God, there was no curse mixed up in God’s blessing. It was a life under the brightest smile of God’s blessings. That’s how we are to view ourselves, and insofar as we are able to realize and embrace this new kind of life, we will experience the daily reality of that new life for God.
CHANGING OUR STORIES WITH GOD’S STORY
Time travel to the empty tomb by faith. We are not only dead to sin by Christ’s death, we are alive to God by Christ’s life. It’s not “Be alive to God,” it’s “You are alive to God.” Reckon that, realize that, recognize that.
Live to God in faith. The more we see ourselves as alive to God in the past, the more we will live to God in the present. Old life will be replaced with newness of life. Questions such as “Should we sin bigger to make grace bigger?” will not even cross our minds because of the cross. Instead we’ll ask, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (2).
WHEN CHRIST LIVED FOR GOD
I LIVED FOR GOD
SO I WILL LIVE FOR GOD
A NEW CHAPTER
Are you tempted to commit sin? How can you defeat present temptation, especially when sin is using its best/worst arguments? Travel back to the cross and see yourself dead with Christ and dead to sin. Read yourself Romans 6:1-11 in the shadow of the cross to escape the darkness of sin.
Are you tempted to run from service? You want to serve God but you see your weakness, you see difficulties, you fear failure. Travel back to the empty tomb and read Romans 6:1-11 in the light of the empty tomb to receive the power of seeing yourself raised with Christ.
Prayer. Eternal God, take me back to Christ’s death and resurrection to make your grace super-abound by realizing I died to sin with him and rose again to new life with Jesus.
1. When have you been tempted to sin bigger to make grace bigger?
2. Why is union with Christ in his death and resurrection so hard to understand?
3. How often do you reckon or consider yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ?
4. How would this “considering” of your union with Christ affect your sin/service?
5. Can you think of another illustration (apart from time-travel) to explain this truth?
6. How can you make grace super-abound?