For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14
Astonishing. Scandalous. Crazy. And Unbelievable.
This is good news! It’s Crazy Good News!
Who believes it?
Anyone? Anyone? I hear Ben Stein’s voice in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
What most people read into this verse is something like this:
Sin shall not be master over you because you are not under law but under grace and will therefore be able to stop sinning to prove that you are under grace.
Bull-hockey! Don’t fall for that self-righteous, find-Jesus-in-my-perfect-behavior baloney!
Here’s the problem. After giving a little explanation in the rest of chapter 6, Paul then opens chapter 7 and elaborates on the part that says “you are not under law”. Then the rest of Chapter 7 goes into detail about how we still sin.
Now I hear Emeril Lagasse kicking it up a notch.
And right now, all my professional-priest-friends are having a conniption fit. And my english-major-friends are fainting from my redundancy with conniption-fit, since a conniption is a fit, in and of itself, by definition.
Back to the scribes. Right now, their big problems are these:
1) I just told everyone they’ll keep on sinning, so they have no hope, and
2) this will encourage Christians to go out and sin-like-the-dickens (what would I do without hyphens, even when they’re not necessary?).
(And parentheses). And incomplete sentences that begin with conjunctions.
What the religious folk fail to see is that this freedom from sin is cradled from both sides with descriptions of union with Christ. In the beginning of Romans 6, Paul answers his critics who ask, “Should we just continue in sin so that we can have more grace?”. Paul says, “No Way Hosea!”. (Paul was Jewish, not Spanish, so he used Hosea instead of Jose.)
I’ll paraphrase how he continues to answer the question: “Absolutely not, and the mere fact that you asked that question shows you don’t understand something — that those who follow Christ have died with Him in hopes of living with Him.
Christians — by definition — are those who have been united with Christ in His death. And the same are and will be united with Christ in His life. That’s why all this talk about Unrepentant-Practicing-______-Christians is more bull-hockey! A Christian can’t be a ______ because the ______ belongs to the old self, the dead self, the one who died at baptism in union with Christ.
On the other side of this “sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but grace”, Paul again explains how our unity in Christ’s death has freed us from the law, which is important because the law is a ministry of condemnation, according to Paul in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 3.
Just as in marriage, you’d be committing adultery if you got married to another spouse while your current spouse is alive. In our union with Christ in His death, we died to the law so that we can be married to the resurrected Christ. Paul didn’t say the law died, he said we died, and that is important because the law still serves as tutor to lead people to Christ. It’s purpose is to show people their death, but once it has shown them that, and they are united with Christ, they are no longer under it, though it remains for those who are not in Christ.
But after Paul says all this, he starts talkin’ crazy in Romans 7 — about how he still does what he doesn’t want to do. And we’re all like, “Yo dawg, you just said sin is not master over us, so what you talkin’ bout foo?”
Well, wouldn’t you know it … Paul answers that question too.
Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
You see, Romans 6:14 does not say, “Sin shall not be master over you because now you will be perfect in your behavior”.
What does it say?
“… because you are not under law but under grace”.
If your hope is in sinless perfection in this lifetime – you have no hope. Seriously — you have no hope.
The best you can do is “be religious”. Join a self-help-religious-institution. Or deny sin altogether and become a liberal-non-believing-Christian. Or become a All-We-Ever-Talk-About-Is-Sin Fundamentalist…. or you could try We’re-Breaking-Down-Strongholds-And-Getting-Set-Free Pentecostalism.
Or you could just quit all that nonsense and put your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith!
The “in Christ Jesus” part is the key phrase here, by the way. Those who are in Christ have died to the old self, so there are no worries about these folks going out to sin-like-the-dickens. It ain’t gonna happen, as a norm, because those who have been united with Christ have renounced their former manner of life. Paul calls the old way of living “the old self”, in Ephesians. Christians have put on the new self, created in righteousness, holiness and truth. So stop worrying about Christians taking advantage of sin. What you need to worry about, preacha-man, is not clearly teaching union with Christ in His death and in His life and not explaining to Christians their freedom in Christ.