What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Romans 6:1 (NASBS)
A Believer that does not understand radical grace usually seems to be the first one to quote verses they think are speaking against it. I believe that 99 percent of these Believers really mean well and have good intentions. The problem is their attempt to quote on quote, “protect the Word from false doctrines”, ends up being the very thing blinding them from understanding what a true false doctrine is. Most of these Believers do not even know why they reject radical Grace, and fail to back it up with scriptural context. Sadly, what comes from their mouths is a butchered version of the last sermon they heard from their favorite preacher, and this is with no studying for themselves to make sure the true Gospel (the Gospel of Christ) is being preached.
Today, we still have Believers that look down on those who believe in God’s Grace, or radical hyper Grace as they call it (which is actually Biblical in the Greek), see Rom.5:20. It is the lack of understanding of God’s Grace, thinking “God cannot always be loving because He is sovereign”, as if those two can’t exist together. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are some that make excuses for bad behavior by saying they’re under God’s Grace, but there are also those who abuse people through fear of the Law, which the Bible clearly says we are no longer under. (Rom 6:14)
In Romans 6, Paul responds to an accusation that he is very familiar with, “Are we to continue in sin so that Grace may increase? In Paul’s ministry he always encountered the same problem, people thinking he spoke too much on the Radical Grace of the Finished Work of Christ, which caused those listening to come to the conclusion that he is making light of sin through Grace (Christ).
Here are a few of my personal interpretations of Romans 6 verse 1 using some Greek definitions to help us get a better understanding of this verse.
“should we deliberately try to miss the mark, or fall short of who we are so that God can give us His ultimate favor?”
“Is the way God favors us by how much we are clueless to who we are and how far we wander from the truth.”? (as if the cause of His favor comes from doing wrong or right instead of His love for us)
Sounds pretty dumb right? Basically thinking that Grace can come from sin itself. But there is also a much deeper meaning to this verse in how Paul was trying to explain God’s Grace to them. Remember, it is by Grace (Christ) we are saved, and not from ourselves (Eph 2:8). Chapter 6 of Romans is all about how we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. This isn’t word play, Paul meant what he said, you are dead! This is more of an identity issue than a performance issue. Most Believers still identify themselves as sinners when God says you are a new creation, a saint! Truth is, what you identify yourself as will eventually become a reality. If you think you are filthy, before long you will act on the filthiness you believe you are. I believe if Paul explained this today in our language, he would sound something like this:
“God has already given you the greatest gift, Jesus, and anything else is secondary. You already have the abundance of His unearned favor through the gift of His life, your old way of believing wrong is dead and gone! Continuing in a Christ-less poverty mentality will not win you points for more favor, for He is your loving Father, and the source of all your being. He cannot give you more of Himself because He has already given Himself in full, and this is before you even decided to choose or love Him! Believers, if you cannot understand and believe that you are dead to sin (dead to being a slave of missing the standards of Gods holiness) and new in Him, you will continue down the road of wrongly believing who He is, and who you are. This way of thinking will ultimately cause you to have a performance mentality towards God, and all out of a subconscious fear of separation, not knowing that you have been on His heart and mind before the world was created!“
The bottom line, most of us have not yet caught up to who we are in our minds. Grace is unmerited favor, meaning no matter what we do or don’t do, does not change God’s mind about who we are, and how much He loves us. It means regardless of our stupidities, God keeps His Word and will always bless us on the grounds of Jesus and His Finished Work. If this scares you, then there is more you need to learn about the love of Christ. Before we throw stones, try to remember the disgusting black hole Jesus pulled you out of. Sometimes it takes awhile to kick old habits. Sometimes we feel like we’ll never line up to God’s standards of living, and in these hard moments, we condemn ourselves. Why? Because we believe that if we feel bad and punish ourselves, God will look down at us and say “Wow he/she really is sorry, I wont punish them harshly this time because I think they really learned their lesson.” We may not say it but subconsciously we’re all thinking it. So what is the way out? Understanding His love for us and our death to sin and life in what Jesus has done on the Cross when He cried “It Is Finished!”
Salvation was never our idea, so why do we pride ourselves as if we had something to do with it. Pride wants to take credit in saying we participated in our saving. If you really think about it, we didn’t do anything but wake up to the reality that was already present. It is like telling a child that they have the ability to swim when they think they do not. The child has to be shown that their little bodies have every functionality to float and swim. The child didn’t give himself/herself the gift and talent of swimming, the child already had the ability which just needed to be brought to attention and nourished.
His unmerited favor was given to us while we were filthy in our sins, before we had a say on the matter, and like the child, we needed to wake up to our true reality, our true identity! I believe in a good life with good habits and love poured out on others, but the true form of this life in Christ is not by effort or resistance, it is by the revelation of the person of Jesus. When we truly realize that we are in Him and He in us, our lives will naturally change, and we will start living out our NEW identity!