Some people think that they can sin as much as they want to, because God will forgive them. The Apostle Paul addressed this issue in Romans 6:1-2. He said,
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
Paul used the expression, “keep on sinning”. This refers to habitual and persistent sin. It’s the intentional, willful act of sinning. It’s an established pattern of life. This is not just occasional sinning — it’s unrestrained sinning – on a continuous basis. People who sin like this have little or no consideration of any moral implications.
In the same verse Paul answers his own question. He says, “Of course not!” And then he asks a rhetorical question – “Since we have “died to sin”, how can we continue to live in it?”
So, what does that mean? Well, people who have “died to sin” are Christians. They can’t continue to sin as they formerly did when they were unbelievers. The expression “died to sin” refers to several changes that God makes in Christians when they repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. First, He puts His life in them by giving them a new heart and new spirit. This makes them want to pursue righteousness. They lose their desire to pursue a life of persistent sin. God also gives them the Holy Spirit to guide and empower them.
In view of these changes Paul asks — how can believers continue to habitually and persistently sin?
Now this doesn’t mean believers stop sinning. They still do — but the difference is — they do not live perpetually in sin as they did before. Let’s look at 1 John 3:9.
“Those who have been born into God’s family (Christians) do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So, they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.”
John is saying the same thing as Paul. However, Paul uses the expression, “died to sin” to describe it..
Now, to better understand Paul’s argument — we have to understand the scope of salvation. Salvation consists of 3 components – justification, sanctification and glorification. These are different phases of salvation, and they flow together.
For example, when believers repent and accept Jesus’s payment for their sins, they are justified — God declares them righteous. And then God immediately begins sanctification – He starts developing Christ’s righteousness within them. So, justification and sanctification are interconnected — one flows to the next.
The process of sanctification is progressive. That means it continues over one’s lifetime. It’s completed on the day Jesus comes back to establish God’s eternal Kingdom. That’s when the third component of salvation called glorification becomes operative. Glorification occurs when all the work of sanctification is completed.
Alright, in view of this — let’s summarize Paul’s argument. His first point is Christians can’t continue to sin as they did before, because God has made substantial changes within them. Paul calls these changes, “dying to sin”. That gives Christians the ability to live a new life. Paul confirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
OK, so how can Christians use this in dealing with sin? Well, Ephesians 4:21-24 tells us how.
21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him (this means accepting salvation).
22 Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
This is how Christians deal with their sinful natures after being saved. You see – the sinful nature still exists – God has not taken it away. The sinful nature still makes the same evil suggestions it did before the Christian was saved, and these suggestions are still attractive.
So, to resist them — the passage says, “throw off your old sinful nature”. But what does that mean? We can’t discard them, because they are still part of us.
So, what it means is to simply say, “no’ to what the sinful nature suggests. When we do that — we are drawing a line in the sand. We are saying “we are not going to let our sin nature control us anymore”. That’s what Paul means when he says, “throw off your old sinful nature”.
And then – and this is very critical — we ask the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts and attitudes. That will help us make our “no” stick. We are still the same weak persons we were before we were saved. God knows that — and that’s why He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us and empower us.
And finally, we put on our new nature which God has placed in us at the moment we were saved. Remember God put a new heart and new spirit within us — which makes us want to pursue righteousness.
Here’s a prayer we can use to help us each time we are faced with temptation.
Dear Holy Spirit. I am tempted to (tell Him what the temptation is). I have said “no” to the temptation. I do not want to sin. I ask you to renew my mind. Make this sin as hateful to me as it is to you. Give me the power to make my “no” stick. I want to follow the new nature that you’ve put in me. Please empower me to do all these things. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen
Well, that’s it for now. See you next time.