Intro: In this final chapter, we will be confronted with the gravity of the struggle of sin. Every Christian struggles with the influence of sin in their lives, but many have no knowledge of why the struggle exists. That causes many to question their faith. How can someone claim to be a Christian and yet struggle with sin? We will discover what Paul means by “dying to sin” and how our union with Christ provides ammunition against our own conscience accusing us.
READ: “Adam was the first man. In that capacity, he was also the representative of the whole human race before God. His fall carried implications for the whole of humanity. In that sense, we all share in Adam’s sin. We all sinned and we all die in Adam” (Rom. 5:12–14). But there is good news in the gospel. God has sent a second Adam, Jesus Christ (strictly speaking, “the last Adam;” 1 Cor. 15:45). He also represents all of His people in undoing what Adam did and in doing what he failed to do” (p. 103).
Question: Have you ever struggled with God calling you guilty for Adam’s sin? Why is it important as it relates to our salvation that this be true?
Section: QUESTION ONE: WHY?
Romans 5:20 “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
“Paul realized that someone might well respond to this teaching by saying: ‘What you are saying—that more sin has led to more grace—implies that the more we sin, the more God is going to manifest His grace. If that is the case, the logic of your teaching is that we can sin to our hearts’ content so that grace may abound.’” (p. 104).
Question: Does grace free us to sin more? Explain your answer.
Question: How is our baptism a helpful picture to the previous question? (Romans 6:2b-3)
“So the answer to question one, ‘Why does the Christian no longer continue in sin?’ is that the Christian is no longer the person he or she once was, and therefore no longer lives out the former lifestyle. Having died to sin, we cannot go on living in it” (p. 106).
Section: QUESTION TWO: WHAT?
Question: If we have died to sin, does that mean we should never sin again?
“Imagine that you have taken citizenship in another country from the land of your birth. Your former king or president demands your loyalty. You are entitled to respond, ‘You no longer have authority over me.’ In fact, it would be contradictory for us as citizens of our new country to live as if we were under the authority of the old one. Similarly, to go on living in sin when we have died to it is a kind of betrayal of our true identity in Christ” (p. 108).
Question: “Believers sometimes wrongly assume: ‘I have sinned; therefore, sin still has authority over me. I cannot possibly have ‘died’ to sin’” p. 108). Has your sin ever caused you to question your salvation? How does the illustration of “transferring kingdoms” help answer this common fear?
Section: QUESTION THREE: HOW?
Because we continue to struggle with sin, we often question our salvation. Sometimes our lack of excitement about the Christian faith haunts us as well. We wonder how we can truly be out from under sin’s power if we have no desire for the things of God. The author provides a helpful answer:
“This perspective is not based on our feelings. We learn it from God’s Word. If you do not know this, you must devote yourself to learning it. Study this passage and others like it (e.g., Col. 3:1–16). Keep asking the Lord to help you to understand His Word and to let it dwell in you richly. Chew on these passages like a dog gnaws a bone. Persevere with this teaching until it grips you. Struggle with it until it dawns on you, and you say: ‘O how the grace of God amazes me!’” (p. 111).
Question: Have you ever questioned your salvation because you “didn’t feel” saved? Why is this so dangerous?
Question: Being “freed from the dominion” of sin doesn’t free us from the “influence” of sin. We are no longer its slave, but sin can and does still tempt us to follow it again. How is this helpful when considering our struggle with sin?
Section: QUESTION FOUR: WHAT?
“If you have not grasped the fact that through union with Jesus Christ you have died to the dominion of sin and been raised into newness of life, you will never count on it and you will never live in the light of it” (p. 116).
Question: If fighting against sin comes from “grasping” our union with Jesus, where should we be spending our energy studying?
Concluding thought: We often assume that to fight sin we need to be told, “don’t sin!” According to our own history, this hasn’t worked, has it? Our problem is not the fear of sin, but the motivation to not sin. According to the author, and argued from scripture, embracing our identity in Christ provides the believer the confidence to fight back against sin. The greater understanding we have of the gospel, the more we have to fight back against sin. Grace actually leads us to freedom, not greater bondage. Our ambition should be to dive deeper into the gospel to better understand our relationship to God. It is there we find rest and freedom from sin. Our hope is not crushed when we do sin, for we have been promised forgiveness and the future hope of a new body where sin will not influence us anymore.