Bible Study Opportunities
Shall We Continue in Sin?
By Jon W. Quinn
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1,2).
Paul had been discussing salvation by faith. He had discussed the power in the sacrifice of Christ and the sufficiency of the blood of Christ in human redemption. He even suggested that though men had grown extremely wicked, the grace of God was more powerful. Paul had said, “And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” (Romans 5;20).
Some had suggested that Paul was saying that we could just continue to sin and God's grace would cover it all. Some today suggest the same thing about Paul. Today some believe that since God's grace is so powerful, that the message is “once saved, always saved.” They contend that we are saved solely by grace and therefore our sins cannot condemn us. But this is not what Paul was saying. In fact, he calls it slander! “And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say), "Let us do evil that good may come"? Their condemnation is just.” (Romans 3:8).
Grace is conditional. It does not cover any sin at all unless the conditions God has established are met.
Reasons Why Some Continue to Practice Sin
Selfishness. Some have swallowed Satan's lie that the way to blissful happiness is to instantaneously gratify and satisfy every desire and deny yourself nothing. Such an attitude is neither noble nor wise. It looks at others as objects; things to be manipulated and used as best satisfies a momentary urge. Ultimately, followers of this course will find little to consistently object to when a kid kills another kid for his athletic jacket or shoes. (see Galatians 5:19-21).
Old Habits. Long practiced habits are difficult to break. It takes effort and strength of character. Those walking with Christ put away the old things. Peter said Christians believe they have already devoted too much of their lives to the activities of darkness and now is the time to leave them behind. He said, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries”. (1 Peter 4:3; see verses 1-4). Others, Peter says, will be surprised when the Christian puts away former practices.
Ashamed of Gospel. Sometimes, believers are simply so weak in their faith and love for the Lord that they are ashamed of the gospel. Living faithfully to the moral, spiritual and ethical standards of the New Testament of Jesus Christ will cause on to be conspicuous and perhaps vulnerable to insult or mistreatment. Resorting to some “minor” forms of worldliness so as to blend in is how some have chosen to deal with this problem so they will not be “discovered.” We must not be ashamed of the gospel! (Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:7,8).
Undisciplined mind. Sin begins in the mind, or heart. Even our thoughts must be controlled and not allowed to dwell on the impure and unrighteous. (Mark 7:21-23; 2 Corinthians 10:5). Remember Jesus' promise: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8).
Lack of love for God. Sometimes it is simply because of a lack of love for the Lord that people continue in sin. Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21; cf. 2 John 6).
Rejection of Christ's Lordship. Many in evangelical circles talk of “accepting Jesus as Lord.” That's a good thing to talk about, but far better to do it than to just talk about it. If one truly accepts Jesus as Lord, then he or she will be doing what Jesus says to do. Jesus once asked, “And why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Consequences of Remaining in Sin
There are a number of good reasons for the child of God not to continue in sin. As we consider these consequences given in God's word, ask yourself it it sounds at all like once a person is saved by grace that his salvation can never be in jeopardy due to his future sins. I confidently affirm the Bible does not teach such a thing as “once saved, always saved.”
One consequence of continuing in sin is a searing of the conscience and the development of a depraved mind (Romans 1:28-32). Another is the warning that one will not escape the judgment of God who practice sin. All will be judged according to their deeds (Romans 2:1-11). Those who practice these things “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). There is no sacrifice for the sins of one who continues willfully in them (Hebrews 10:26-31). Finally, the last state of one who returns to sin and continues to live in it is worse that the state he was in before he left it to begin with (2 Peter 2:20). Does that sound like “saved” to you?
Continuing in Sin is Unnecessary
“Walking in newness of life” is a reachable goal. Starting with our baptism into Christ, we are to rise up to walk in a new way (Romans 6:3,4). One of the new ways is to reject sin as our “master” (Romans 6;11-14). Instead, we are to live as “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We must determine not to continue to participate in the evil deeds of darkness, but put them aside forever (Ephesians 5:8-12; Colossians 3:5-10).
There is great motivation given to us by God to live righteously. John said, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure....Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God”. (1 John 3:2,3; 7-9).
So, Paul asked, “Shall we continue in sin?” Not unless you want to estrange yourself from God and ruin your life. Far better to walk honestly and righteously with God!
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois June 6, 2000