Read Romans 6:1-11

How can you who have died to sin go on living in it? (Romans 6:2)

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God.”

“We boast in our hope of sharing in the glory of God.”

“Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.”

“Free gift…free gift…free gift…free gift…free gift.”

In Romans 5, Paul emphasizes that justification is by faith and that it is a free gift. Not earned. While we were yet sinners. Thanks be to God! Yet this emphasis can lead to a view that overcoming sin isn’t important.

If we are freely justified, not by our own good works, then maybe if we sin we can trust that we will be forgiven. Or maybe it isn’t even really our responsibility at all to overcome sin—it’s God who saves, not we ourselves.

In fact, I think this spirit permeates Protestant Christianity with its emphasis on gratuitous salvation by faith. Do you really believe that if you are hateful or proud or lustful or avaricious and you do not repent and are not justified you will burn in hell eternally?

Paul has a word for anyone who is not too concerned about overcoming sin because he trusts in God’s grace: “Shall we sin the more that grace may abound? By no means!” Absurd or insulting as that perspective may sound, it’s the view implied by our attitude.

According to Paul, here’s how you should think about this matter: when you were baptized, you died with Christ. You died to sin. And just as Christ has been raised to life and will never die, so you have a new life in Christ, freed from sin. Think of yourself as dead to sin and alive in Christ. Live in Christ.

When you are tempted, you will overcome. And if you don’t, you will repent and crawl back to God.

You maintain a watch over yourself, and as often as you are tempted you shut the door and turn another way.

If you are weak in a certain area, you avoid situations likely to be tempting in that area. You cut off the hand or gouge out the eye.

You would rather die than sin because to sin would be to betray the one you love.

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and