For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
Paul talks about the grace of God in saving sinners all the time. Yet neither in Ephesians nor in Galatians nor anywhere else that I remember does he worry about people thinking that the Grace of God might lead them to be content to go on sinning.
And that is not his worry in Romans 6.1 either. The question is not, “May we continue in sin because we have the grace of justification that allows us to do so with impunity?” The question is, “Are we supposed to keep sinning to produce more salvation the way God has produced it from the sin of Israel in killing Jesus?” Thus in Romans 3:
But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.
The point is not that God forgives sin but that God used the law to produce the trespass required to bring salvation. Paul deals with this in Romans 3 and then in Romans 9 by asserting human responsibility and God’s right to arrange all this to fulfill his promise to bring about salvation.
In Romans 6 his point is more that now that it has been done once, we are in a new age. What God did in Israel through the Law and in Jesus through his obedience is non-repeatable and unnecessary. Now we are in the abounding grace. It is impossible to return to sin.
And by the way….
This quotation from Martin Lloyd-Jones is mistaken
The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is probably no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that …because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like… If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding then it is not the gospel… If a man preaches justification by works, no one would ever raise this question… There is thus clearly a sense in which the message of justification by faith only can be dangerous… I say therefore that if our preaching does not expose us to that charge and to that misunderstanding, it is because we are not really preaching the gospel.
How does one get “always” out of Romans 6.1 even if his reading of the meaning of 6.1 was accurate? Wouldn’t an “always” follow from every Pauline Epistle that explains the Gospel and all the preaching in Acts, at least? Shouldn’t the point be that sometimes it is possible to get that impression.
Do we care what the Bible says?