Not long ago, I was speaking with a young woman in our church who has been following Jesus for a little less than two years. In that time her worship has flourished, her demeanor has brightened, and her contentment has become contagious.
In the course of our meeting, she shared some faux advice that a friend had given her — essentially, she should sin because it’s our job to sin and it’s God’s job to forgive.
And my Good Shepherd friend recoiled against that advice. She said:
Why would you want to take advantage of the forgiveness of God by sinning MORE? You should be so grateful that you just naturally sin LESS.
In that moment, I knew genius when I heard it. I told her, “You probably don’t know this, but you’ve just summarized an entire section of the book of Romans, especially chapter 6.”
Which opens this way, with Paul in character of his opponents, expressing the same view as my friend’s friend:
In character, Paul asks: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? Essentially: if God’s grace is so great and so vast, let’s have him pour out that much more of it by sinning up a storm!
As Paul, the apostle answers the objection: By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? I shared with my friend that “by no means” has also been translated as “may it never be!” but really has the sense of “hell no!” However you translate it or paraphrase it, the meaning is the same:
Why would you take advantage of the forgiveness of God by sinning more?
Which means, of course, that my Good Shepherd friend had understood and was living out Romans 6 long before she ever read it.
Huh. What to make of that?
I guess that’s because God’s been working on her since long before she was even aware of it. That’s how grace works, you know. It’s working on you when you’re not looking for it.
May you be found by it today.