Should We Sin? Romans 6:1-4

In Romans 5 Paul has concluded that those who are in Christ are declared righteous by the faithful act of Jesus, the second Adam. Although the Law caused sin to increase, those who are in Christ experience an abundance of grace in Christ Jesus. We are freed from the power of sin and death, and are free from the law which brought death (5:20-21). Richard Longenecker argues structures Romans 6:1-7:13 is structured around three potential objections to Paul’s argument so far (Longenecker, Romans, 604-5).

License to SinFirst, if we are in fact saved by grace without obedience to ritual or law, then why should we not “sin that grace may abound”? This appears to have been a problem for Paul since he addresses in in several of his letters. Paul did not teach his followers they were free from all moral restraint. In fact, Paul will include several chapters in Romans on what the Christian life ought to look like. Although someone might accuse Paul’s followers of living as though they had no moral boundaries, this was not the point of his Gospel.

Second, can Christians do things formerly considered “sin” because they are no longer under the law? A Gentile Christian may have thought that since they were free from the Law, they could behave in ways that violate the Law and not consider that behavior a sin. By way of analogy, if a person travels to another country. Some practices might be legal that were illegal in their home country. It would not be illegal for an American teenager to drink alcohol in Germany because the legal drinking age is sixteen. But if the same teenager was in Michigan, they would be breaking the law since the drinking age is 21. Perhaps there are some things the Jewish Law considered sin that are now, in the present age, no longer sinful. Paul argues that one of the functions of the Law was to make sin so clear that the need for salvation is obvious.

Third, if this is the case, someone might object that the law itself is sin since it causes people to sin. If I make a rule that causes people to sin, am I not responsible for their sin? Paul treats this objection in 7:7-13 by anticipating his conclusion in chapter 8; those who are in Christ are in fact free from the law so that we can serve in the new way of the Spirit.

The natural inclination of most people is to abuse freedom. Think of those “pay what you want” snack boxes at work. At least in my experience, even in Christian organizations they always come up short. This seems to be another problem which cropped up for Paul regularly, especially when former pagan Gentiles became part of the church. Some behaviors in the Roman world were out of step with the ethical mandates of Judaism, so Paul’s gospel could be taken as a “license to sin.”

How do these potential objections to Paul’s Gospel of grace come up in contemporary discussions of what it means to be a Christian?

14 thoughts on “Should We Sin? Romans 6:1-4

  1. I know some people may say that now my sins have been paid for by Jesus; I am no longer accountable for them so I can keep on sinning if I want to, because Jesus already paid for it. Paul explains later on in chapter 7 that our bodies have not been saved but our inner man or soul has been saved (21-22). This means the inner man desires to follow the law of God, but the flesh sometimes keeps us from doing so by sinning (23-24). This is why Paul emphasizes in chapter 8 the Helper or the Holy Spirit to assist us in living holy lives even though we may still sin, but our relationship with God will not be made distant from our sins.


  2. Paul emphasizes many times in his letters that we must not abuse God’s grace (3:5, 8, 6:1-2, 15-16, Gal. 5:13). In the New Testament, I can see why the Jews in Paul’s day probably thought he did not have any morals. His ideas were very radically different then the Jews that followed the Torah. But obviously, we cannot sin just “because we can”, that completely erases the concept of sin and God’s judgement. Col. 3:5-6 tells us to “put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature…because of these the wrath of God is coming.” Nowadays, I think people are ignorant of what sin is. They have turned it into something subjective. In contemporary culture, the focus is only on God’s love and grace, while completely disregarding his wrath and justice. You cannot choose one over the other though. Rom. 5:9 says that “since we have been justified by his blood, how much more will we be saved from God’s wrath through him.” People listen only to what they want to hear. Sin is still sin even though we are under grace. It is true that once sin becomes known as Paul talks about, such as the law, it becomes transgression (4:15).


  3. The fact that we are no longer under the Law in the modern world of Christianity today is by no means a free pass to sin. Many writings in the New Testament speak that there is still a punishment for sin if we do not repent (Romans 6:23). God is a holy God and has no desire for us to sin, but since we do, He desires for us to see that sin and ask forgiveness of these sins. James 4:7 tells us that if we know what is right and refuse to do it, then that in itself is sin. If sin simply brought more glory to God for His grace to show, then all those who do not believe in God would bring glory to God, which is certainly incorrect. 1 John 3:8 says that those who sin are of the devil and that Christ was sent to crush the devil which should therefore crush sin. If we are in Christ, then our sin is despicable to God all the same, but we find grace and redemption that we do not deserve because of the perfection of our God and the standards that He desires for us to follow in order for us to be made more like Him.


  4. Some people, in today’s time, will be full of grace, but lack discipline, so they continue in their sin and don’t feel any conviction to change. Others are extremely legalistic and have no problems pointing out other’s flaws, judging, and holding themselves on a higher level. As if there is some kind of righteous scale.

    In some of today’s mega churches, I see a hyper-grace message being preached. In some of today’s smaller churches, I see more of a legalistic message. I believe that the Christian should find a healthy balance between grace and truth. We need grace to realize how blessed we are to have a Father that has forgiven us of our wrongdoings. But we also need truth to recognize that we, as human beings, are idiots, and that we need a Father to follow.


  5. One of the ways this discussion of grace may come up in the contemporary church, is the idea that a Christian can almost, in a sense, live on the edge of sin. What I mean by that is, a Christian believing grace is always there for them, they may not intentionally sin, however they may participate in the fine line of what sin is. When, and if they ever cross that line they know grace is there to cover them. They may not be sinning that grace may abound, but they certainly are not running from the environment of sin. This grace Paul talks about, if taught wrong can give a strong implication for being careless when it comes to sin, simply because grace may abound in the act of sinning. Also, a person reading this passage looking for something that can fit them, could interpret the wrong meaning without reading the whole letter. However, they ought to read the scriptures understanding that God’s word is what should be shaping their lives. This principle of people misinterpreting verses or passages can be seen quite often. A famous one is Deut. 29:11. People use this one verse because it makes them feel good that God will prosper them. However, if they read the whole context, the meaning can be clearly seen, this was for Israel in slavery. In the same way a contemporary Christian could read this passage and once they decide, sinning that grace may abound is what the passage is saying, that wrong idea seems like a good way to justify how they chose to live. This is not the case; we are no longer slaves to sin. Furthermore, we are now slaves to Christ, which mean we ought to live a Holy life.


    • “A famous one is Deut. 29:11.” I assume you meant Jeremiah 29:11, since Deuteronomy 29:11 says “your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water…”

      Although I would find comfort in having a little one or two who could chop my wood and carry my water.


  6. This concept that Paul introduces that we are no longer slaves to sin and the law but that we are still morally obligated is one that provides different viewpoints from different people. If you were to ask a Calvinist and a Wesleyan you would get different answers. A lot of people that hear about the Gospel from street evangelists also hear about Paul’s message that we are dead to sin and alive with Christ, they are told to just believe and be saved but if no one helps them to understand that faith apart from works is dead. I think that certain people believe that if you say you believe and then do not live out your faith through works then you were not truly saved? The example that hits a chord with me is Christians living in Puerto Rico. the island is mainly Catholics and people that have bad doctrine. Their idea of Christ followers is that “we” do not drink, have tattoos, wear bikinis and we do not swear. Now by these standards if they were to come to Michigan and walk into Grace bible college and see all the tattoos, they would be very confused. I think that this is the example of what Paul is clarifying in Romans. Not that we should not drink or get tattoos, but that we are called to obey God and that because we are living under Grace we ought to live our lives for God more, so grace may abound.


  7. It is great to read a blog post as well as the commons about this particular topic\issue. I have often times found myself questioning why we cannot sin if we are saved and forgiven from our past, present and future sins. For someone new to the faith or an outside in the Christian faith, there would be no reason not to continue sinning and living a life of immorality. If you are saved and forgiven, why not sin? This issues that Paul addresses is so important for our society today and it seems to have been necessary to address in Paul’s time as well. People, both Christians and non-Christians need to know that God’s grace and forgiveness is not a “get out of all sin” free card to be used whenever you want. As Christians we should feel convicted by the Holy Spirit and have a yearning to grow and follow Christ. In chapter 10 of Encountering the Book of Romans, Moo states that, “at one time we were slaves to sin, but in placing our faith in Christ, we have committed ourselves to a new pattern…” (Moo, 2348). This new pattern refers to a new way of teaching and living our lives. Christ did not have to die for us, save us or forgive us, but he chose to because he loves us (John 3:16). God’s love and sacrifice for us is incredible and there is no way of describing it or fulling understanding. When you take a look at what Christ has done for us, the least we can do it try to follow him and live lives that he would be proud of. There is no excuse to sin or live immorally. Our calling is above that and we are to be examples to those who do not yet know Christ.


  8. Since the articled is titled, “Should we sin?” I feel compelled to answer that right off the bat. No, I do not believe we should sin. Since we are descendants of Adam it is in our nature to sin. We live in a fallen world, a world where sin is rampant. As Christians, we are called to be different from the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). In being different, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard to be set apart. I understand that we are saved by Grace, but as true Christian followers, we should have a desire to please God in all that we do. We know that sin displeases God. Our Christian relationship should be about our love for God, and if we love God, and have a good relationship, we should never want to do anything that displeases Him. Although sin can be the easy road, it doesn’t mean that we should take it because we have grace. The only person to conquer our fallen world sinless was Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus Christ so that we could be redeemed. The most that we can do in return is seek a relationship with Him, and give him everything because He gave everything for us. Our everything, should be to live a life that honors God, and in all we do, our actions should point back to His glory.


  9. I think that the scriptures are clearly evident that sin is not meant to be something that we accept as regular, but rather than that, we are not supposed to accept these things as normal and acceptable in society. Just because we are under a new law doesn’t mean that we have a reason to screw all of the old rules. Although some rules may have been a vertical truth for the generation that it was given, there are principles that can be taken from the old laws that give us reason to see why they were instilled in the first place. God placed the rules in place for a reason, but there was no need for some of the after Jesus’ death and resurrection. These sins are now no longer the same as they were before. Because we are allowed to sin doesn’t mean that we should. God is not someone to be tested like the boy who cries wolf. We cannot call on Him time and time again and expect that there is not going to be consequences for our actions.


  10. As a Christian, I have definitely struggled with abusing God’s grace. I have had moments in the past where in the middle of sinning I have thought to myself, “I will just ask for forgiveness.” This is the exact opposite of what Paul is saying in Romans 6. However, it seems that maybe that Paul’s dialogue about “having been set free from sin” (6:18) goes ignored in the Christian world. Some sins are seen as “little” in comparison to murder or robbery. Gossip goes unchecked by other Christians or it is justified as a prayer request. Even though God’s grace is available all the time, in verse 22, Paul emphasizes the reward that comes from being set free from sin.
    Let us be Christians not just recognition, but keep the commandments as we are commanded to do. This will keep others from calling us hypocrites and it will make us become a better witness for Christ.


  11. I think that when we are looking at Paul’s view of grace and how it fits into contemporary discussions of what it means to be a Christian. I think when discussing sin and grace we must first recognize that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). We are under the law of grace because of what Christ did for us on the cross and I think when thinking about this we can recognize that even though we sin, unintentionally much of the time due to our human nature and the fall that Christ is always going to be there and accept us. His grace does not run out and as modern Christians I think that our grace for others should not run out often. Being a Christian means trying to be like Jesus everyday and sometimes that is going to be harder to do than other days but recognizing the grace we have received can helps us when discussing this is modern days. We all fall short but grace does not.


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