Pauls Footsteps #315

“Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!” Romans 6:15 NLT

Footsteps #315. Someone once said, “I love sinning and God loves forgiving. Wonderful arrangement.” Paul’s “what then” of v14 is an echo of the question in v1 that he has spent 13 verses smashing. It just seems that as soon as some hear the words ‘free from the law’ their sinful flesh smell the scent of the morning breeze and see in grace the opportunity to dump the law and do what they want. 

On the other hand, legalists get ready to draw dangerous conclusions from the doctrine of grace in order to destroy it. This latter group sees grace as the enemy that permits people to sin as much as they please. As a result, the “hostile brothers” of lawlessness and legalism always surround the doctrine of grace. Both sides shout out “Freedom from the law means a free and open path to sin.” 

Paul meets the hostile brothers in Romans 6:15-23. He will in his usual thorough fashion nail shut the door that suggests “If it is grace that saves, it doesn’t matter how we live. Sin doesn’t matter, since God has a superabundance of grace and will forgive us 70 times seven.” Paul comes down hard on such a perverse understanding of salvation by grace. 

Intimately related to the issue at hand are the minimum and maximum approaches to Christian living. The minimalist likes to ask, “Can I do this and still be saved?” That is like asking, “How close can I get to the edge of the cliff before falling off?” it is an unchristian question. Christians are not concerned with how little can be done, but how much? They are maximalists, who want their lives to glorify God in the fullest way possible. And while they realise that no law can save them, they eagerly dedicate their lives to loving God and their neighbours in every aspect of their existence. They don’t live the law to be saved but live it because they are saved. As we noted earlier, the expression “the obedience of faith” (6:17) frames the entire book of Romans (Rom. 1:5; 16:26, RSV). Paul can’t even begin to imagine genuine faith that does not lead to obedience.  

Most Christians understand the proper relationship between law and grace. The Law is God’s standard of holiness and righteousness, and violation of that law is sin (see 1 John3:4. and Gal.3:22.) We are saved by grace alone as a gift from God, (see Eph.2:8.) Of course, the slight detail some have a problem with is the fourth commandment (see Exod. 20:8-11).  

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