What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Preach the good news of grace and eventually someone will ask the question here: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” In other words, is grace a license to sin? Such a question reveals a stunning ignorance of both sin and grace.
Your sinning will never affect God’s love for you, but it will surely affect you. Sin is destructive. It will hurt you and those you love. It is not God’s will for you to destroy your health and your home through destructive choices, and this is why he gives us his grace – so that we may be empowered to say no to those sorts of temptations and live whole and godly lives (Tit. 2:11-12).
May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
(a) May it never be! If you are troubled when you sin, that’s a good sign. Your discomfort is evidence of the new nature and desires that God has put within you. Your heart is to please the Lord and by his grace you can be free from sin’s grip. But if you are untroubled when you sin – perhaps because you think grace is a license to sin – then you have misunderstood both the dangers of sin and the purpose of grace.
Further reading: “Is grace a license to sin?”
(b) How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Paul is preaching for a verdict; he wants you to be free from sin. How do we live free? By recognizing what Christ did for us on the cross. You died with Christ (Gal. 2:20). So reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ (Rom. 6:11).
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
The cross lies at the heart of the gospel, yet few Christians understand that Jesus was not the only one who died upon it. The moment you were baptized or dipped into Christ, you were baptized into his death. This is why Paul says again and again, “You died” (Col. 3:3), “We died” (2 Tim. 2:11), and “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20).
Unaware that they have died with Christ, many Christians are trying to nail themselves to the cross. Jesus died once for all but they die daily. Instead of reckoning themselves dead to sin, they are trying to throttle the sin in them and it’s a flesh trip. It profits nothing.
Further reading: “What happened to me at the cross?”
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
There are many blessings for those who know they have died with Christ, and Paul lists them here. The believer is no longer a slave to sin (Rom. 6:6) but has been freed from sin (Rom. 6:7) and can count herself dead to sin (Rom. 6:11). Having been raised with Christ the believer can walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). In short, the believer can experience the resurrected life of Christ (Rom. 6:6, 8), a life that will not end with death (Rom. 6:9-10).
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
United with him. The original word for united (sumphutos) appears nowhere else in the Bible. It is a special word that means planted together, and it is just about the strongest word for union you could think of. It means being “born together with” or “of joint origin.” The closest English word is connate which means individual parts that are united to form a single whole.
The best illustration of our connate union is the one Jesus gave us—a vine and a branch, two parts that combine to make an indivisible whole (John 15:5). Vines and branches cannot be understood in isolation. A vine that has no branches is not much of a vine, and a branch that is not part of a vine is not a branch. It’s just a stick.
What does this connate union mean for us? It means our lives cannot be understood in isolation from Jesus. Apart from him we can do nothing. We can’t bear fruit, we can’t grow, and we can’t live. But connected to him in connate union, we don’t need to do a thing to make this new life happen. We just need to receive it. To partake in his divine nature requires only that we live in the union that is already ours.
A married person who continues to act like a single person is going to miss out on many of the blessings of marriage. Similarly, a Christian who fails to draw from their union with Christ is going to miss many of the blessings of that union.
How do we bear his fruit in our lives? By not trying. Fruit grow naturally (see Mark 4:26–28). We hinder that process by trying to make things happen in our own strength and understanding. Do that and you’ll produce Ishmaels. But learn to rely on his love and trust in the Father’s pruning and you will bear his fruit effortlessly.
Further reading: “No more lonely love songs”
knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Slaves no more, we are free to walk in newness of life. Further reading: “The old has gone, gone, gone.”
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
(a) We have died with Christ. At the heart of Paul’s message was the revelation that the believer has died with Christ. “You died with Christ… For you died” (Col. 2:20, 3:3).
(b) We shall also live with Him. Because we have died with Christ, we have been raised in Christ and are now seated with him in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). From this position of rest and authority, we get to rule and reign with Christ here and now (Rom. 5:17).
Further reading: “What happened to me at the cross”
knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
See entry for Romans 6:4.
For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
See entry for Romans 6:4.
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