by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 October 24, 2006 Lincolnton, N.C.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
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?
1901 ASV Translation:
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
I. The Second Major Question.
A. As in 6:1, so also in 6:15 Paul is concerned that his readers not twist the Truth in the service of evil desires.
1. The problem was identified by the apostle in 6:12 where he addressed the "lusts" of the mortal body.
a. There is a sense in Paul's words that the "mortal body" is the problem -- as if there is no other.
1) But, is there not a non-body issue within the body that causes "sin" -- the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2)?
2) That, apparently, was the case before the circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:29).
3) That, also, is yet the case when the believer is "deceived" by Sin, but it is called "the Law of Sin inmymembers" in Romans 7:23. This retains a powerful link between the "mortal body" and this "Law" and continues to reinforce the fact that it is, in a very real way, the absence of the redemption of the body that is the problem.
b. Peter concurs in 1 Peter 2:11.
2. These "desires of great strength" are, apparently, sufficient to entice the majority of human beings into "twisting" grace into a way to continue in sin while "appropriating" the kindness of God.
a. Paul would not have confronted the issue of "shall we sin because..." twice if there was not a fundamental likelihood that men would be looking for a way to do just that.
b. Nor would Paul have addressed the issue twice if it were not for the fact that there seems to be a "natural" progression from the doctrine to the reaction.
1) If Jesus vs. Adam (Romans 5:12-21) is really where the issues are determined, it does seem that our sin is of no significance and we might as well indulge our appetites and then die and go to heaven on grace.
2) On the other hand, if we really did die to the Law so that it cannot address our lives with consequence, it does seem that our sins have no ability to kill us and we might as well enjoy life (i.e., indulge the lusts of the mortal body) and heaven too.
B. As in 6:1-14, so also in 6:15-23 there is a fundamental flaw in the understanding of the readers that is apparently caused by ignorance ("...know ye not...?").
1. In 6:1-14 the problem is that the readers do not understand their union with Christ.
2. In 6:15-23 the problem is that the readers do not understand the reality of creation-order.
a. Coming out from under "Law" is completely wrapped up in the issue of the Justice of God as a divine attribute. It has little-to-nothing to do with the issues of the how the created universe functions as the expression of the attributes of creation.
b. Quite apart from divine Justice and its automatic corollary in regard to sin (retribution), the creation operates on a very fundamental cause/effect foundation that is inescapable. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" [Galatians 6:7].
II. The Second Major Answer.
A. Grace does not provide the resources, motivation, and power to sin.
B. Grace does not typically override either of two of the "sin" issues: the "ignorance" factor; or the built-in consequences-of-actions factor.
1. At the "ignorance" level, there is a level of "protection" that seems to permit the "sin" but mitigate its severity and consequences in many cases -- though not all.
2. At the "built-in-consequences" level, there seems also to be some degree of mitigation that depends upon the "ignorance" issues.
a. If a person presents the members of his body to Sin, he will become enslaved to Sin at the point of his "presentation", but the "initial" presentation does not carry the weight of consequences as the continued presentations do.
b. Is there no "recovery" from such self-induced bondages?
1) If not, where is there any "hope" for us?
2) If so, why be bothered about getting into bondage?
C. Grace does typically provide a "recovery" from bondage at any stage and level of bondage, but the provision has less of a "benefits package" with the more profound levels than with the more superficial levels. In other words, if a person sins his way into serious bondage, he will find that, though God is very much willing to free him, his "freedom" will be more about freedom from the necessity to act and less about freedom from the attending realities. He will find the "grace" to abstain, but he will not likely be as un-tempted later as he would have been if the bondage had not progressed as far as it did. In the words of a former alcoholic, one never ceases to be an alcoholic -- one only ceases to be a drunk. It seems that the chief difference between the deliverances is the on-going severity of the temptations as well as their frequency. Is this any basis for just "giving in" because the deliverance is not as "great" as we would like it to be? This is Paul's question: shall we continue in sin because we are not under Law?