Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 6:1a “What will we say then?”
Paul realized that his emphasis on Justification by Faith would bring a howl of protest from many. He realized that some of his critics might try to trap him with his own words. In anticipation of what they would probably say, Paul answers the critics. He wants everyone to draw the right conclusions from his teachings.
Romans 6:1b “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may
Paul knew that evil men might pervert his previous statement that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (5:20). There is always the possibility that someone will say, “Let’s go on sinning, because it gives Grace a chance to show off its full potential, and be more conspicuously displayed.”
The Devil loves to pervert the doctrine of Justification by faith and to undermine the true intention of eternal security. He tries to accomplish these goals by whispering to us that if these two doctrines are true, then why not live in sin to the full? Satan says, “The one who has been saved by faith can never be lost, NO MATTER HOW HE LIVES.” The Devil puts a heavy accent on the last phrase. The Holy Spirit says, “The one who has been saved by faith can never be lost and will live as a believer should.”
Justification by Faith will produce moral character. The righteousness of God which is imputed to the believer will prove its existence by working itself out in everyday living. The greatness of grace is that it provides us the power to be delivered from sin.
The very act of salvation implies a desire to turn from sin, not to continue in it. A Christian must never look upon the cross and interpret it as a license for sinful living. The sacrifice of Christ was not intended to create a harbor for sinners who want to enter it with all their sins still on board.
There will always be those who misinterpret the truths of Scripture. When we preach on “free grace,” there are those who abuse it by advocating “free living.” When we preach on morality and godly living, there are those who abuse it by saying we advocate Pharisaism and salvation by works.
However, we must not avoid truth, just because it is liable to distortion by evil men. Though men abuse these teachings, we stand by both blessed doctrines without apology:
1. We preach “free grace,” which means that men are saved by grace through faith, apart from any works of the flesh.
2. We preach “godliness,” which means that anyone who has been saved will demonstrate it through godly living.
These are two themes which we must ever emphasize. Both truths must be unapologetically proclaimed. A balance must be maintained between the two, or we will lean too much toward being Libertines on the one extreme or Pharisees on the other.
There was once a clergyman whose preaching emphasized free grace, but neglected the call to holiness. One day after he had preached, a stranger came to him and, thanking the preacher energetically for the great comfort he had derived from the message, placed some money in his hand. The preacher was surprised, and even more so as it continued to happen week after week. The pastor decided to sift out this matter and investigate who this stranger was that so enjoyed his messages. Lo and behold, the man was a person who was at that very time openly living in abominable wickedness without any tinge of remorse or repentance. This discovery jolted the preacher into confessing, “Certainly there must be something essentially wrong in my preaching when it can afford comfort to such a profligate as this!” The pastor immediately began a review of his messages and saw how lopsided he had been in his sermons. He quickly changed to a balanced pulpit ministry, and soon the stranger quit coming back.
We must maintain the delicate balance. As Howel, preacher at Longacre, said, “Pray for me, my brethren, that I may still preach doctrine, and that Longacre may become too hot for error in principle or sin in practice; pray for me that with a giant’s arm I may lash both.”
Romans 6:2 “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin,
live any longer therein?”
A Christian should not live in sin, because one dies to sin when Christ is accepted. Immediately upon conversion, the believer is separated from the everlasting penalty and the controlling power of sin.
The believer is dead to sin, and when a person dies, he is no longer subject to former relationships. He is separated from those things which had sway over him. Believers have the right to be like a corpse to sin, unable to be affected by it.
The death and resurrection of Jesus have brought the reign and tyranny of sin to an end in the believer. We are delivered from its realm, its rule, its control, its dominance. Sin has lost its power over you, except to the extent which you allow it to harass you.
The only reason believers still sin is that we do not reach out through faith and claim what is rightfully ours. We have received much more than merely forgiveness of sin. We have been transferred to a realm of power. We live in the realm of grace (5:2), which means there is ample power available to us to overcome any temptation we might face. This is our birthright!
No believer will ever be perfect in this life, but neither should any believer be “living” in sin. By that we mean that no believer should feel comfortable in sin. It should not be our element or our common atmosphere.
Believers must not be cordial with sin. It should grieve us, hurt us, pain us. One had best search his heart if he can sin without remorse. That is a very dangerous thing, which usually bespeaks lostness.
The believer should never give in to sin, and come to terms with it. He should never be at war with evil. And one of our greatest weapons of war is to know who we are and what is ours.
We are citizens of a celestial kingdom. “Our citizenship is Heaven” (PH 3:20, ASV). Believers are a colony of heaven here on earth. We are like a United States embassy located in another country. The embassy is located within the territorial confines of a foreign country, but it is still counted as American soil.
Even so believers live on earth, within the territorial domain of Satan. However, sin no longer controls our destiny. The Devil cannot force evil upon us, or coerce us to do wickedness.
He can only harass us. We live in a new realm, but Satan still taunts us and calls to us from the old realm. He reminds us of the pleasures of sin, and sees to it that temptations are placed in our path. And as he intimidates us, we forget who we are and what we have. Hence, we fall into sin. This is so sad because it is so unnecessary. There is no power available to you to send Satan running. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (JS 4:7).
Do not make Satanic confessions. Never say that it will be impossible for you to overcome a particular sin. Whenever you are tempted, pray, “I am dead to this evil. It has no authority over me. Jesus, give me strength to be what I really am.”