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Shall We Sin?

Concerning my post, Christians Under the Law, some people astonishingly thought that teaching one Biblical truth (we are not under the law), by necessity meant negating another Biblical truth (we should not sin). What is so particular troublesome about this is that this allegation is not new, but something Paul the Apostle had to deal with and answered thoroughly in Romans 6 and elsewhere.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

The problem is that people do not read their Bible, but are eager to disagree with something out of ignorance if it "sounds off" to them. Christians are not under the law; Christians should follow the example of Jesus and try and live Holy lives. Both statements are true. Perhaps some Christians (?) think that the only way to avoid sinning is by trying to put themselves under the heavy yoke of the law? Of course being free from the law does not give one permission to commit all manner of sin. No sincere believer would teach such a thing, nor have I ever heard it taught.

Here's my commentary on the above verses:

Now Paul answers an objection to all that he has said, especially the last couple verses of the last chapter. If grace abounds where sin abounds, why not just keep sinning? People STILL have this objection today, but they obviously don’t read the Scriptures or understand what it means to be a new creation in Christ.

Same “God forbid” as in chapter 3 that the NKJV translates “Certainly not”, an emphatic “NO!” Then Paul points out the total absurdity in having died to sin (the Greek is clear that this is a past tense action), yes still living in it. And by the way there’s a big difference between living in sin and stumbling into it.

We have died to sin as the verse says, and like we read in Colossians 3:5 where it says to “mortify” or put to death any sin or wickedness in your life.

Furthermore, the Bible acknowledges that not all people were given the Law, only the nation of Israel, but because God has written the law on our hearts, and we don't need to be taught that murder is wrong (for example) we are still held liable for sins that go against our conscience (see Hebrews 8:10). This is especially true for Christians who have the Holy Spirit inside them and are guided by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 2:14-15 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another

Adam Clarke writes, "As to the phrase written in their hearts, it is here opposed to the Jewish laws, which were written on tables of stone. The Jews drew the maxims by which their conduct was regulated from a Divine revelation: the GENTILES theirs from what God, in the course of his providence and gracious influence, had shown them to be right, useful, and necessary. And with them this law was well known and affectionately regarded; for this is one meaning of the phrase, written in the heart. It was from this true light, enlightening the Gentiles, that they had so many wise and wholesome laws; laws which had been among them from time immemorial, and of which they did not know the origin."

This should completely put the question to rest, but let's go further. There are plenty of passages in the New Testament that provide guidance on our manner of life. While the Old Testament Law was incredibly specific, the New Covenant is more general.

Like Jesus states in Matthew 22, and which is repeated in Galatians 5:14, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." This is what James calls the "Royal Law" (James 2:8) because "it is majestic, noble, worthy of veneration. It is a law which ought to govern and direct us in all our intercourse with men - as a king rules his subjects" (Albert Barnes).

If we love our neighbor, we will not murder our neighbor or steal from him or lie to him etc.

In Romans, Paul contrasts the Old Testament law of sin and death with the law of freedom in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are led by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

In many other places in Scripture we are given specific examples of what we should not do and what we should do. All of this is guided by the Holy Spirit as we grow in our walk with Christ. There are far too many passages to quote as this is seen throughout the NT, but one notable place in the New Testament is in Galatians 5:16-25 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

And finally, the short phrase "Be ye Holy" appears three times in Scripture. The first time in Leviticus 20:7, and this is quoted in 1 Peter 1:15-16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Are you trying to live a Holy Life? Are you following Christ and obeying His commands? It is difficult, and truly impossible, but that doesn't mean we should make excuses for our repeated failures and slips into sin. We should be relentless in our pursuit of Christ.

“The first priority of my life is to be holy, and the second goal of my life is to be a scholar.” — John Wesley


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