A LINE IN THE SAND
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:1-4.
Paul did not let the grass grow under his feet. As ridiculous as the counter-arguments may sound, he anticipated and responded to each one before they were even thought of.
If the sinfulness of man resulted in the revelation of God’s grace, and the greater the sin, the greater the grace, why not just go on sinning so that God’s grace may be even more evident? What a crazy argument! It’s like saying, “Let me live as recklessly as I can and do as much damage to myself as I can so that the skill of the doctor who attends to me can be made known!”
We would never reason like that when it comes to our own physical bodies and yet there are people who actually think that it’s okay to carry on sinning because God will forgive them. Like the Israelites of old, who happily disobeyed God’s commands because they offered sacrifices for their sin, there are people who think that God’s forgiveness is the reason for carrying on with their old sinful lifestyle.
This way of thinking completely misses the reason the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. His broken body and shed blood dealt with the guilt of our past, paying our debt and striking all our sins from the record. However, there is much more to it than that. Sin is not only debited to our account, it also pollutes us, making us unclean, like the leper who was excluded from society because he was infectious and his putrefying sores made him look unsightly and smell offensive
We know that a decaying body produces a terrible stench. Can you imagine how bad a dead spirit must smell? And we were dead in our trespasses and sins before God, through the Holy Spirit, raised us up in Christ, washed us clean through His blood and made us sweet-smelling and acceptable to the Father. Why would we even think of living in sin again and smelling like a pig-sty all over again?
Imagine your little daughter playing in the mud just before she is due to attend a birthday party. You pick her up, put her in the bath and wash her from top to toe. Then you rub her dry, powder her and dress her in her party finery. Would she want to go back into the mud just so that she could be bathed again? Of course not!
Jesus’ sacrifice not only remedied the past – it also transforms our present. When He died on the cross, since we are now “in Him”, we also died with Him. We made a public declaration of our identity with Him through our baptism, symbolised by our going down into a watery “grave” and rising with Him to a new life. There is nothing magical about baptism itself; the physical act of being dunked under the water does nothing to us physically, but it is a powerful witness and declaration of what has happened in the spirit and faith in its purpose transforms us on the inside.
Something happens in the spirit realm when we declare, through a public action that we have died with Christ and been raised to a new life. It is a kind of “cut-off” point between our past and present. It speaks to the people who witness it as well as to the unseen realm of angels, good and evil, that we have become new creatures in Christ. It is a declaration of war against those who hate God, both people and devils but, at the same time it brings all the power of heaven to our assistance.
We now have a new Master, a new identity and a new destiny, based on the gift of Jesus Christ’s righteousness which has been credited to us through God’s grace. Would we not then, in keeping with who we now are, embrace the grace of God to live up to our new identity? Our baptism, identifying us as children of God and followers of Jesus, is like drawing a line in the sand.
On which side of the line do you stand?
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