A CONTROVERSY SETTLED
In Paul’s day, as in ours, there were many who, when they heard the gospel of free justification in Christ, by grace, without works, cried, Antinomianism! That doctrine will cause men and women to live licentiously!’ That is always the response of natural religious men to the gospel of free grace. Because self-righteous men and women are
mercenaries, because they serve God for gain, because many serve God for fear, they cannot understand the principles of grace. They cannot imagine men and women living for Christ, being constrained by nothing but gratitude and love.
God’s people know that grace is glorified, not by the commission of sin, but by the forgiveness of it; not by encouraging sin, but by putting an end to it. Grace never causes men and women to love sin and pursue it; grace causes us to hate our sin and seek to be done with it. Paul says, ‘How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ Such a thought is as repulsive as it is unreasonable!
We are not dead to the influence of sin (Romans 7:15,19), the results of sin (Romans 7:21), or the effects of sin (Romans 7:24;
Psalm 51:3-4). Our Lord taught us to pray continually, ‘Forgive us our sins.’ Because we constantly commit sin, we must constantly confess our sin and look to Christ for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). But we are dead to the guilt and penalty of sin. Sin shall never be charged to us (Romans 4:8) and never condemn us (Romans 8:1). God will never treat us any less graciously because of our sin! And we are dead to the dominion of sin (Romans 6:14).
To live in sin is to give yourself up to it, be bent upon it, be controlled by it, find pleasure in it, and make room and allowance for it. Though sin lives in us, believers do not live in sin. We live in Christ! We are bent upon Him, controlled by Him, find pleasure in
Him, and make room for Him. It is our joy to follow Christ and be like Him.
Paul has settled this controversy forever, insofar as the doctrine of the gospel is concerned. Now let it be settled in your heart and mine. Grace does not promote licentiousness. Grace promotes righteousness!
(reprinted from Evangelical Times, July 1991)