The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 5:20-6:2)
I’m running low on pens at home, so I take a couple from work – so what, my workplace isn’t going to miss them. But I read Exodus 20:15 “you will not steal,” and I’m convicted. Then, my neighbor buys a new car, a 2018 BMW convertible. My 2005 mini-van is no longer reliable and looks out of style. It was great for transporting my kids and their friends, but now my kids are grown, and I’d really love to have the car that my neighbor just bought. There’s no wrongdoing in wanting a car, I’m not going to steal it, right? Wrong! Exodus 20:17: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house…or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” I’m convicted again. Until there’s a law or I realize there’s a law, there’s no sin, right? Once I know that I’m guilty of breaking the law there is sin. So, when Moses climbed down the mountain with the Law, the Israelites realized a lot of what they were doing was wrong, so sin increased. The NLT translation of Romans 5:20 states: “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.” We already read in the Romans 1:20’s that when we sin, God gives us over to the desires of our heart, and we sin more. And as we sin more, we come to the end of ourselves and seek God. We can’t live with ourselves any longer, so we repent! When we repent, God gives us grace, the gifts of righteousness and eternal life are part of His grace.
We humans are clever, though. The thought enters our minds: When we sin, we’re giving God the privilege of showing His grace! So, we ask the question: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Sinning can be fun, so we hope that the answer is, “yes!” Our spirits are filled with hope!
Oops! The answer is, “By no means! We died to sin. How can we live in it any longer? 1 John 3:9 (NLV) tells us: “No person who has become a child of God keeps on sinning. This is because the Holy Spirit is in him. He cannot keep on sinning because God is his Father.” TLB translation adds because he has been born again. When we are “born again” with Christ, the Holy Spirit unites with our spirit and sin can no longer be our way of life. God wants to completely fill our spirits with His, and He will if our spirits aren’t already filled with negative emotions and false hope.