Romans 6:15, 23 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Verse 23 is rightly quoted a great deal, but sadly we still struggle with the issue expressed in verse 15. Frankly, we don’t understand grace very well. The devil does his utmost to convince us that if our sins can be forgiven, they don’t matter. That, as always with what the devil says, is a lie. We by nature like to indulge our every impulse, but as the section between these two verses makes clear, that makes us slaves to sin. Our appetites in themselves aren’t bad, but uncontrolled they quickly become distorted and lead to destruction. Even something as basic as our appetite for food, if uncontrolled, leads to obesity and death. Right now over half the population of the US is overweight, and obesity is the prime “co-morbidity” in deaths from the current corona virus pandemic. Rigid legalism is certainly a trap, and one that Paul rightly railed against, particularly in writing to the Galatians, but the solution isn’t license, the feeling that “anything goes.” That’s what Paul is writing about here. Jesus didn’t die just to save us from the penalty for sin, He died to save us from the power of sin, since sin is fundamentally destructive, just as verse 23 says. We do still slip up at times, which is why we look forward to heaven, where we will be saved from the presence of sin. The more and better we walk free of sin in this life, the more we enjoy the blessings of heaven even before we get there!
This is something I teach others, but I don’t walk in perfectly myself. The fleshly nature is a stubborn thing! That means that as a pastor I can have empathy and compassion for those to whom I minister, but I must never close my eyes to my own vulnerability. Of all people, I am to “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) I have tasted the blessings of walking in step with the Holy Spirit, (Galatians 5:25) and must be vigilant against anything that would get me out of step with Him. I do indeed look forward to heaven, but as long as I am in this life I am to seek to bring as many people as possible with me on the the road to heaven.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Nothing could be more basic. Help me indeed share the Good News of salvation more and more effectively, while walking in it more and more fully myself, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!