Paul extends his discussion of righteousness by faith to include the true fruits of faith, and the working of true righteousness in one’s life. You often hear many people say “We are saved by grace”, but often grace is not sufficiently understood. For many, grace means that God saves people and forgives them, but they limit the work of righteousness to that of a legal, forensic transaction, without an accompanying heart change revealed in the life.
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
When we believe in Christ as our Savior and our righteousness, true faith leads to a change of heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the life of Christ lived in us, and we experience progressive victory over sin and sanctification of character. True faith works by love, (Gal. 5:6), and purifies the soul. (2 Cor. 7:1). Paul is now dealing with an issue that is at the heart of the Gospel, the Sanctuary message, and the experience, ultimately, that God’s people are called to fully experience at the end of time. Jesus did not come to save us in our sins, but from them, both in terms of the penalty for sin, the power of sin in our characters, and ultimately, the presence of sin in our natures. I have heard many say, “You can't stop sinning”, but Paul understand that as we identify with the cross and the death of Christ, symbolized in baptism, we truly can rise to a new life.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
As Galatians tells us, if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We can identify fully with Christ and His death to sin, so that we no longer need to serve the principle of sin, or self. Greater is He that is within you, than he which is in the world. There is nothing too hard for God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
We are not “under the law” as believers. What does this mean? It means we are trusting in the merits of Christ, instead of seeking salvation by works of the law, and thus we are not under either the condemnation, or power, of the law, for we have been freed through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
We have been called to holiness, to character perfection. Many struggle with that concept, but as Mary, we can say, “so be it.” We can allow God to perform what He has promised, to write His law in our hearts. The Gospel is linked with the heavenly sanctuary, and ultimately, the Most Holy Place, where we experience the life of Christ en grafted into our hearts and minds forever. Perfection is both a goal, and also a present moment possibility. The next time you are tempted to sin, don’t. That is all we have, the next moment, and we can live a life of freedom in the next moment, trusting in God, and “working out”, what He has first worked within.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
This is the true Gospel, a gospel which gives us victory over sinning, and the fruit of holiness in the life. Paul wants everyone to experience the true power of love in our lives.
The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.
~Pastor Tom Cusack