Previously: romans 6, under law and under grace
This is my outline of the book of Romans:
Rom 1:1-7, Greeting and benediction;
Rom 1:8-15, Desire to visit Rome;
Rom 1:16-17, Theme of the letter: the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God;
Rom 1:18-5:21, Justification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 6:1-8:39, Sanctification and the righteousness of God;
Rom 9:1-11:36, God’s righteousness and Israel;
Rom 12:1-15:13, Practical application of God’s righteousness;
Rom 15:14-16:27, Conclusion.
Paul asks and answers two questions in Rom 6, which have so much bearing on our understanding of the nature of the Gospel of grace, of justification by faith!
“Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Rom 6:1
“Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” Rom 6:15
In fact, all of Romans from Rom 2 on has been a series of Paul’s questions, followed by his answers. He is still continuing in the same pattern. The last question he asked was this one:
“Does this blessedness come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also?” Rom 4:9
What blessedness is he referring to?
This is a parallelism, a characteristic of Hebrew poetry (and also often prophecy) in which a concept is stated, and then the same concept restated for emphasis. So, David equates lawless deeds with sin, and forgiveness with atonement (the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant covered (the Hebrew word being from the same root as atonement) the two tablets of the Law within the ark).
Hebrews understood the Law to be the written expression or explanation of what constituted righteousness and sin — as behaviors, as works. So, lawful deeds — works in accordance with the Law — were righteous deeds, while lawless deeds — works which broke the Law — were sinful deeds, or simply, sin.
John puts is this way:
“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” 1 Joh 3:4
We don’t have to ask what Law- lessness is; we simply have to read Torah. Whatever it commands men to do, and they do it not, that is sin. Whatever it commands men to not do, and they do, that is also sin.
So when Paul asks, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound, he is essentially asking what he has asked before in Romans, shall we now continue to break the Law (commit sin, i.e., lawless deeds or lawlessness) as we did when we were ignorant of God, so that grace may increase? Shall we break the Law because we are not under Law but under grace (for justification)? Do we then make void the Law through faith? (Rom 3:31).
His answer: CERTAINLY NOT!
We in the modern church have been so conditioned to think that because we have been saved by grace through faith, the Law is now of no value — not only of no value, but dangerous — and should be completely ignored. The first century church did not believe this, as we can see from reading Acts and the other books of the New Testament for ourselves. Jesus did not teach this (Mat 5:17-19). The Reformers did not believe this or practice this, but here in America until modern times, it was even against the civil law to work or be open for business on the day of rest.
Christians! Let us take our faith and practice solely from the unchangeable and everlasting Word of God, sola scriptura, as we claim we do, and discard every doctrine of man, no matter how ingrained, which does not align with that precious Word!
This means that Christians ought not to break the Law or Torah of God — we ought not to sin — simply because we are not under Law but under grace, for justification. Let us read the Torah, beginning with the Ten Commandments, if nothing else, and let us let God’s Word instruct us in righteousness and sin. And then, let us order our lives so that we are in obedience to not only it, but Him!
For further reading:
What is “Under the Law?” (scroll down) — Brad Scott, my favorite Hebrew teacher
Continued: galatians 1, a different gospel