IF GOD IS GRACIOUS, WHY CAN’T I DO WHAT I WANT? by Matthew Boga for Core Christianity
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)
When Paul writes he often predicts potential objections and questions to the truth, brings them up, and then answers them. One such passage is Romans 6:1. After unpacking the depth of God’s grace to his enemies (Romans 5:6-11), Paul asks the question he knows many are wondering: if it’s all being forgiven anyway, can’t I just keep sinning? Paul answers with an emphatic “By no means!” How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2b).
Paul answers this way because all who are in Christ have become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we are united to Christ, his alien righteousness becomes our own. So, when God sees us he sees our righteousness—belonging to us now in Christ as much as our sins belonged to us before.
Christians are united to Christ in his death and also in his resurrection in order to walk with him in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4). Christians simply can’t keep living like the old sinful person they were because that person has been spiritually crucified with Christ, laid in the grave, and been raised a new person (Galatians 2:20).
Christians can’t make themselves new
Throughout Romans, Paul describes salvation as a gift—the greatest gift a person can ever receive (Romans 3:24, 5:15-17, 6:23). However, the word “gift” may be confusing for people who see salvation as a reward for obedience.
Imagine receiving a gift from a friend. If you immediately pay your friend for the gift, you haven’t received a gift at all. Instead, you’ve made a payment for a commodity. To truly receive a gift means that there is no expectation or requirement of repayment. That’s what makes it a gift. However, Christians can be prone to view salvation as a license to sin and live however they want. If God is gracious then there is no need to change lifestyles. This is what the Roman Christians were tempted to think (Romans 6:2).