Thursday, June 1, 2017

Romans 6: Why Not Sin?

In Romans 6, Paul confronts two arguments regarding the interplay of sin, law, and grace.

The first rhetorical question is, "Should we sin with abandon in order to allow God to be more gracious?"  As a seminary instructor of mine used to put it: "I like to sin. God likes to forgive sins. We have a good thing going!"  But Paul is emphatic that this is not the case.  We are dead to sin and alive to Christ; how can we live in sin any longer?  We have no obligation to the sinful nature any more, but are free to serve God.  Whereas once we could not help ourselves from sinning because of our sinful nature, in Christ we have been freed from the power of sin and now have the ability not to sin.  Sin is no longer our master.  Therefore, Paul says, we should not indulge in sin anymore (vs. 12).

Secondly, Paul considers the question, "OK, we don't HAVE to sin anymore because we died to it and are alive to Christ, but since we are under grace rather than law, why not sin?"  We really like to sin, Paul - may we?  There are those who would take advantage of God's graciousness and sin with abandon, believing they have license to be as morally base as they care to be.  The old term for such thinking is "antinomian," or "against the law."  An antinomian believes he or she can act however they want.  This is a perversion of the gospel.  Paul instead describes the situation this way: you become a slave to whoever you offer yourself to (vs. 16).  But in Christ we are slaves no longer to sin but have instead become slaves to righteousness.  God does not want His children living as slaves to sin.

Ironically, the Church is often castigated for being obsessed with sin - though we are actually advocating a way to be freed from it through Christ!  But instead of freedom, what the world really wants is to be given a license to sin or, rather, to have the very language of sin stripped out of our vocabulary!  Why does the Bible point at our attitudes and actions and condemn them as "sin"?  Isn't that very judgmental?  Haven't some sins become acceptable and even fashionable?  Why can't we just do what we want?

What we really need is to change the way we look at sin - to go from viewing it as a forbidden pleasure to seeing it as the camouflaged deathtrap that it really is.  I often wish that the world, and some Christians, would have the spiritual eyes to see that the allure of sin only promises short-sighted pleasure at the expense of our long-term good.

Sin is the ultimate dead end.  We need to grasp the deep truth of what Paul says about sin: "What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!"  (vs. 21)  Truly, the wages of sin is death. (vs. 23)  No matter how good it sounds, feels, or appeals - sin is never God's best for you!

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