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The Epistle to the Romans.
Sanctification.---First a sphere. Newness of life
pp. 31 - 38
The true sequel of Rom. 5: 12-21 is Rom. 8: where the condemnation brought in
by Adam is entirely removed from all who are "in Christ Jesus". The Spirit of God,
however, knew the heart of man; and how easily even believers may misread liberty for
licence, or abuse the overwhelming grace of God. Already the spirit that necessitates
Rom. 6: and 7: has shown itself. For in Rom. 3: 7 we have the beginnings of the idea
opened up in Rom. 6:, where the thought that "the truth of God hath more abounded
through my lie unto His glory" is echoed by the question: "What shall we say then?
Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?"
It is not a question of shall I ever fall into sin, or shall I never discover hidden
uncleanness, but shall I "continue in" sin. Epimeno is used in Rom. 11: 22, 23, where it
is used of "continuing in His goodness", and of "abiding still in unbelief". In Rom. 6: 2
the balancing clause to "continuing in" is "living in":--
"How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
Let us notice for our good that the apostle does not temporize with this question. He
does not embark upon a lengthy discourse concerning grace; he does not attempt to
mitigate the fullness of superabounding grace; he goes straight to the heart of the matter,
revealing it to be a matter of life and death.
Grace is grace because of righteousness--so teaches Rom. 5: 21: "Even so might
grace reign through righteousness", and the only way that grace could reign through
righteousness is for sin to have been dealt with righteously--and we know that the wages
of sin is death.
The answer to the question of Rom. 6: 1 is found in 6: 3-14. Verse 2 is not so
much an answer as a refusal to admit the validity of the objection that superabounding
grace will encourage laxity of morals. The close of verse 14 corresponds with verse 2 in
setting the objection aside as incompatible with the "grace wherein we stand". The
answer (3-14) is divided into three main sections:--
(1) Identification of the believer in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (3-10).
This we shall discover is subdivided into three features.
(2) Reckoning of the believer that all this is true.
(3) Practical results of this identification and reckoning: "Let not", "Yield not".
This, together with the associated doctrine of Rom. 5: 20, 21 which gave rise to the
objection, we now set out before the reader.