Romans 6:11-14 (NKJV) 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 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. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
We are taking some time this year to look at the topic of grace. There is much teaching on this in the church right now. Some if it is good and some may not be so good. My tact whenever I hear things that I am not sure about, is to go back to the Word of God. I try to do so without preconceived ideas. All I want to know is what the bible says. If we focus there, we cannot go wrong. The key to this process is to be open to changing what we thought was true.
At this point in our study, we are looking at Romans 6. There is a progression in the book of Romans that lays out perfectly the truth about grace. In chapter 3 we find that all are under sin. There are no exceptions. One of the key verses of Romans 3 makes this clear.
Romans 3:10 (NKJV) 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;
The other dominant theme of chapter 3 is that the law cannot make anyone righteous or right with God. There is another way to become right with him. That is the sacrifice of Jesus. Through that sacrifice all who come are made righteous. There is nothing to pay and nothing to earn. How do we access this free righteousness? Chapter 4 tells us.
I like to think of Romans 4 as the “quick start guide” to faith. It lays out in detail how Abraham received the promise that he would be the father of nations in the face of impossibility. Any faith operation we undertake works the same way. However, there is another truth in this chapter that is actually more relevant to the revelation Paul is giving us in Romans. We can only access the “law free” salvation by faith in God.
Some say the opposite of law is grace. That is not exactly correct. Law was the vehicle that God used to enable man to access what limited grace he could provide under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant we have a much more complete and powerful grace available to us. If law was the way to access grace under the Old Covenant, how do we access it under the New. The answer is Faith.
The New Testament answer to the Old Testament law is not grace but faith. Grace has always been available. Instead of keeping the law to be right with God, today we access grace by faith.
Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
There is no amount of keeping the Law that can save you. Keeping the law gave the Israelites under the Old Covenant as much relationship as possible until Jesus came. It gave God a channel through which he could bring the Messiah. When He came, He did not do away with the law, he fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17.) His sacrifice provided in reality for all what the Law provided in type and shadow for Israel. The only way we can access this true righteousness of grace is by faith.
We have already talked about chapter 5 in previous posts. To summarize, chapter 5 tells us that Adam brought death to all, but Jesus brought life to all who will receive it. It reveals to us that the grace manifested in Jesus Christ gave man the power to overcome the reign of death through sin that had come upon all at the fall.
There is no question that grace accessed by faith is the answer that God was working towards since the fall of man in Eden. Salvation requires nothing else. You cannot earn salvation. You cannot buy salvation. There are no laws you can keep nor sacrifices you can make that will save you or make you right with God. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Grace is the vehicle that provided salvation and faith is how we access grace.
This brings us to chapter 6. Again, we have looked at the beginning of this chapter in previous posts. Let me quote the first two verses again so we are absolutely clear on what Paul is saying.
Romans 6:1-2 (KJV) 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Paul’s revelation is not that sin is no longer sinful. Sin is toxic to man. Sin is what produced the fall. According to the last verse of this chapter, Paul makes it clear that the wages or affect of sin is death. He says in the same verse that the free gift God wants to give us is eternal life. Both statements are true. The wage sin pays are still death and the free gift of God is life.
Romans 6 reveals something that is key to the whole process. When I receive the sacrifice of Jesus as payment for my sins, I am not just forgiven. I receive a new life. Something changes inside of me. Jesus called it being born again. Paul called it becoming a new creation. The death that came into the spirit of all people was transformed into life. The power of God connected the Christian to the creator once again. All past sins were wiped away and we became “new creations” in Christ. We were born again.
Neither grace nor salvation changed the nature of sin. Sin is still a disease that, if we allow it to control us will produce death. All Christians sin. We all allow the flesh to dominate us from time to time. 1 John 1:8-10 makes that clear. I do not believe that the sin John is talking about will send us to hell. I do believe it opens up a door for the enemy to get into our lives and bring death. Not eternal death but death to our witness, our testimony and sometimes our physical lives, among many other things (John 10:10.)
What is the solution? Should I ignore the sinfulness of sin because grace has me covered. I say with Paul, “God forbid!” The solution is to walk in the new life God made available to every believer through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The question is, “How do I do that?” The answer is found in the whole New Testament, but we can find some important things at this point in the story of Romans. Todays scripture gives us the next steps.
We receive grace and salvation by faith. We accept the truth that we are new creatures in Christ. What must we do next? We must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. We must not let sin reign in our mortal bodies by yielding our physical lives to its power. We must yield our bodies, our members, to God and not to sin.
We do not do this by law. We do it because we are no longer under law. We are under grace. Grace gives us the power to control our “members” from the inside out not the outside in. Nonetheless, we do control them. If we do not, we yield to sin which opens us to death. All of the negatives that came upon man because of the fall are wrapped up in death.