The apostle Paul asked the rhetorical question "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" (Rom. 6:1). Later in that same chapter he asked essentially the same question: "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" (Rom. 6:15). In both cases he gave an emphatic answer to his own question: "Certainly not!" We would do well to learn the lessons from this text on both sin and grace.
The seriousness of sin is portrayed, in part, by noting that the initial sin of one man, Adam, brought sinfulness and the consequence thereof, death to all mankind (Rom. 5:12,14). Anyone who lives in sin is a slave to sin (Rom. 6:16, 19-20). The consequence of sin is not only physical death (Gen. 2:17; 3:22-24) but, worse than that, spiritual death-separation from God (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 6:21, 23). If a person dies physically while already dead spiritually, then he faces the prospect of eternal punishment in Hell, called "the second death" (Rev. 21:8). That reality means everlasting separation from God (2 Thess. 1:9).
The serious of sin is further emphasized by noting that, in order to offer man a pathway to redemption, God offered the life of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for the guilt of man's sin (Rom. 5:6-8). Paul emphasized both sides of the ledger, so to speak, the terribleness of sin and wonderfulness of God's grace. Adam brought sin, with all of its consequences, into world. In His grace, God sent His Son into the world to bring eternal life and thereby couneract the consequence of sin (Rom. 5:15-19, 21). Christ came into this world for one basic reason - to die on the cross to pay the price for the guilt of our sins (Heb. 7:27, 9:28).
Because of sin man needed redemption, reconciliation to God, man needed a Savior. Jesus Christ came to this earth to be that Savior. His death on the cross demonstrated both the seriousness of sin and the magnitude of God's grace. Through God's grace man can overcome the consequence of sin. By grace those dead in sin can be brought to life in Christ. Thus, "where sin abounded, grace abounded much more" (Rom. 5:20). Words cannot do justice in describing the awesome blessing of God's grace in sending Christ as our Savior.
But apparently Paul dealt with a similar careless attitude on the part of some in his day as is common with many people today. It is an attitude that sinning is not that big a deal because God's grace will take care of it. Apparently, some were even suggesting that sinning could be a good thing in that it gives opportunity for God's grace to stand out all the more. What a disgraceful, disrespectful mindset! Such a viewpoint actually cheapens God's grace, and such was the motivation for Paul to ask the question "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" and to give the answer "Certainly not!" (Rom. 6:1-2). We'll explore Paul's question and answer in more detail in another article...
Gary L. Hutchens