In my previous blog. I essentially defined Christianity using the first 5 chapters of Romans. I highly encourage you to go back and read it, if you have not already done so, before you read this extension. You can find it here. To put it bluntly, I made the argument that you can only get to heaven through faith and acceptance alone – acceptance that you are a sinner and that there is no way you can get there on your own power, and faith that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and is the only way you could ever get into heaven. If you think that by being good and not sinning is the way you’re going to get into heaven, I’m sorry, but you won’t be going there. You absolutely cannot do anything to get into heaven. If you’ve sinned once, you may as well have sinned a billion times. Plain and simple. It is by God’s grace and God’s grace alone that you will ever be allowed to live with Him.
“What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” [Romans 6:1]. I’ll be honest. When I was in the 6th grade, my mom helped me memorize this section of Scripture (Romans 6:1-11) through a catchy song that I have never been able to get out of my head. Thanks Mom. I never really caught the full idea behind what I had memorized until recently though. Paul has just spent 5 chapters making the argument to the Romans about the fact that they are sinful beings deserving of an eternal death that they can no longer do anything about. Whether they never sin again or sin a million more times, they are going to hell. Only God’s grace can cover those sins and make it so that they no longer existed. Now he changes directions. Paul doesn’t want his readers to think that since God’s grace covers all their transgressions, they can keep on sinning. So he poses the question at the beginning of this paragraph and immediately answers it in verse 2: “By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” We gave up sin when we committed our lives to God. We should desire not to sin purely out of gratitude to God. But if that’s not enough, listen to what Paul says later:
“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit, you put to death the misdeeds of your body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” [Romans 8:12-14]
Guess what. You’ve lived a life of sin all your life. You’ve realized that because of this you deserve an eternal death. You’ve then realized that God sent His Son down here to Earth just to die for you so that you are now granted eternal life. He has covered every single one of your sins and made it as if they never existed. But that in no way means that you now have a free pass to sin. As Christians we are not given the permission to sin, but rather we are now required to live a life apart from sin (Romans 6:16-18 – READ IT!). “But this is impossible!” “We’re humans; it’s in our nature to sin.” I’m assuming something like this might have gone through your mind. Well yes, actually, this is quite true. Paul even admits it over and over again in Chapter 7: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” [Romans 7:19]. Paul, the writer of a good portion of the New Testament, understands our predicament. He was there too. Even though, we are called to live a life without sin, God is merciful and He knows that we still sin anyways. Our sins are still covered by Christ’s blood. However, we should still strive daily to live lives that are as sinless as possible.
I know when I fully realized the greatness of God’s gift of eternal life, I was so overcome with joy in the Spirit that I actually desired to not commit sin. I hope you felt the same way I did, and I pray you feel it still. I mean I owe God more than just my very life – I owe Him every minute, every thought, every breathe, and then some. The least I could do is abstain from hurting God anymore by committing myself to following His law as best as possible. I should hope that every one of you feels the same.
Now, it’s not that I feel that since I am a Christian, I hold myself to a higher standard than the rest of the world (this is a common misconception). I mean, I sin and have sinned just as much as the next guy, and I am no better than you – not even a fraction. The label “Christian” does not make me feel like I am anyone’s superior, morally or in any other way. Rather, I see myself as inferior, and I desire to strive every day towards a goal of perfection. As Paul says in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Thanks Grandpa, for this verse)
I like that verse. It seems to sum everything up, from end to beginning. Christ Jesus desired me and took a hold of me for a purpose, and for that purpose, I should strive daily to reach perfection, not that I ever have or ever will reach it. So the one thing we should be convicted of remains the same: That we sinners can get to heaven through Christ Jesus, and Christ Jesus alone. The rest still falls into place: Because of this fact, we are obligated to live lives that strive every second toward perfection – God deserves nothing less from us.
I hope you don’t find what I have written here too mild. I found this topic to be quite difficult to put into words. If you do find it mild (and even if you do not!), I strongly urge you to read Romans 6-8. Read those words with an open heart and mind and let the Spirit of God tell you what He wants you to know. As always, share these things with me, I beg you! I want to hear it! If you have any questions, corrections, or arguments, please, please tell me. As I said in my former blog, I am not the Bible, so don’t take my word as Gospel.