Staying one step ahead of the prosecution, Paul anticipated the inevitable question that would be asked during cross-examination: “Shall we sin to our heart’s content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God?” (6:1, Phillips).
In other words, since we're justified and will remain so even if we sin, can't we just live however we want? “What a ghastly thought!” Paul will retort. “We, who have died to sin—how could we live in sin a moment longer?” (6:2, Phillips).
Salvation doesn't free us to sin; it frees us not to sin. As believers in Christ, we are united with Christ himself and his strength. Sin no longer has a claim on our lives. “We're alive to God, alert to him, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (6:11, TLB).
The daily process of living this new life in Christ is called "sanctification.” Whereas (Were you expecting a “therefore”?) justification is God's declaration of righteousness, sanctification is our development in righteousness. Justification has to do with our position in Christ. Done deal. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Christ. In progress.
As growing Christians, we no longer live under the law, which showed us our sin and condemned us. Instead we live in the Spirit, who frees us to love and serve Christ.
Old habits die hard, though, as we all know. Even though we're new creatures in Christ and will one day be perfect, we retain the vestiges of our old, sinful nature in this life. This war of the two natures is a struggle for the Christian who truly wants to grow.
Remember another adventurer and theologian, C.E. Scrubb? And his war with those two natures? And his desire to die to sin and to truly grow spiritually? And his encounter with a huge lion? Well, that’s exactly where Paul is taking us in chapter 7. He’s taking us exactly to the solution for the struggle. And that solution……….will be discussed during class this week. And Scrubb’s adventure, too. Good stuff!
In Your Debt,
R A L P H