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©John Yerkes

Chapter 6:1-4 (ESV)

Posted on December 21, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 6:1-4 (ESV) - What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Question to consider: Why was it wrong to continue in sin in order to receive more grace?

While Paul may have been addressing potential objections or misapplications of the doctrine he presented in this letter, the idea of engaging in more sin in order to receive more grace was a very real heresy that had started to spread in the region of Asia Minor. Both the apostle Paul and the apostle John ministered in the church at Ephesus and equipped them to speak out against this heresy. All of the apostle John’s writings battled against this, and Jesus, in His message to Ephesus, gave it a name. “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:2-6, emphasis mine)

The Nicolaitans were those who were influenced by the errant theology of Nicolas of Antioch, one of the original deacons chosen in the Jerusalem church to make sure the Hellenist Jewish widows received care. He apparently took the Platonist idea that the flesh was evil and applied it to Christ, denying that He came in the flesh and promoting the idea that because our salvation was spiritual, the sin done in the flesh only served to store up more grace for our spirit. Eventually this doctrine would metastasize into Gnosticism, but at the time Paul wrote Romans, it was still in the infancy stage.

While it is true that the Father is spirit and those who worship Him do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), Christ coming in the flesh is a vitally important doctrine and was emphasized throughout the works of John. Paul’s argument about the grace of Christ being abundant enough to cover all sin was not an invitation to sin. It was an encouragement for those who believed their sin made them ineligible to receive Christ’s gift of salvation. Paul thought it was ridiculous to use the grace of Christ as a license to eagerly pursue a life of sin. Someone pursuing holiness may stumble with a moment of lust and need the overflowing grace of Christ, but that doesn’t mean that person should sign up for a membership to the temple of Aphrodite. Why? Because we have died to sin. When did this occur? When we were baptized.

However you fall on when someone should be baptized or their mode of baptism, this passage should open our eyes to the fact that baptism is a mystery (Latin sacramentum), for Paul clearly states that we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection in order that we may walk in newness of life. In other words, in our baptism we die to sin and live for righteousness in Christ. The apostle Peter stated directly that we are baptized for the forgiveness of our sins and to receive the Holy Spirit (see my study on Acts 2:33-41) Jesus commanded it in the making of disciples (see my study of Matthew 28:16-20)

Because Christ has set us free from sin and death, we should not use that freedom to go back into the shackles of sin but to do those things that promote life and godliness.


Dear Lord, thank You for setting us free from sin and death. Please keep us from turning back into the bondage of those things that ultimately bring death and sorrow and instead desire those things that help us walk more closely with You. Thank You for Your overflowing grace and mercy that cover us along the way. Amen.