The Stakes | Only one kind of life leads to eternal life. All of us are guilty sinners through our own disobedience and through our being united with Adam. Another life that leads to heaven, however, comes from being united with Christ: “Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” . What leads to eternal life? Sanctification. Freedom from sin. Slavery to God.
The Danger | In the first part of Romans, Paul shows a radical emphasis on justification by grace alone through faith alone apart from works of the law. This is tremendous kindness: Christ’s obedience – not ours – is our grounds for justification. Yet, Paul recognizes that such sweeping grace can be dangerous because it can be easily distorted. As D.A. Carson explains, “People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated” .
The Reality | So, having just said, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” , Paul counters: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace abound?” . Then he resounds: “By no means!” Why not? Because dead people don’t sin: “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” . In other words, when Christ died, we died in and with him . When he rose, we were made alive in and with him . Therefore, we are to become in practice what we are in truth: dead to sin and alive in Christ . In this way, the hard work of sanctification is not the opposite of grace; it is the result of experiencing grace.
Prayer | Lord, Our hearts are fundamentally flawed and deceptive. Although we cherish your grace, we go about manipulating it for our own selfish purposes. Therefore, we ask that you would change our hearts to hate our sin and to love your grace, as we live obedient lives of sanctification. Amen.