15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
The last verse (6:14) brings us to another challenge in 6:15-23 regarding living under the grace principle. Romans 6:1 challenged the idea that if God gives super-grace, then we should super-sin to acquire more grace. The Holy Spirit’s reply ran for the first 14 verses. Verses 15 to 23 deal with another aspect of why grace does not produce license.
15 What then?
This question arises out of verse 14 about Christians not being under the law but “under grace.” The law cannot take the lead in righteousness because it is unable to produce righteousness. The law can only convict of sin.
Both halves of Romans 6 (6:1-14 and 6:15-23) point to the same purpose—to show that people who transferred from the family of Adam to the family of Christ cannot sin without consideration of the one to whom they belong. Grace does not lead to sin because Christians have been joined to Christ, our federal head. Neither does law lead to sin; God does not free us from the law to become autonomous but to become “slaves” to God and His righteousness (6:16f). Clearly, grace does not lead to lasciviousness or wallowing in sin.
Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?
“Under law” means to be governed by the law; this is the idea that the Christian life is to be lived by human effort. On the other hand, grace makes available what the law commanded but could not provide.
This question challenges the idea that living under grace causes the believer to sin. This issue is not simply a variation of the question in verse one. The question in verse one is whether we should pursue sin so that grace would increase (5:20), while this verse questions whether sin should be committed because believers are free from the law.
Paul’s answer to this challenge is the same as in verse one. This question implies another wrong implication of the principle of grace from verse 14. Christians are not free from the moral norms of God but from legalism. It is an error to presume that if we are not under the law, sin does not matter.
No true Christian says that sin does not matter.
Freedom from the law does not mean freedom from God. There is no such thing as absolute freedom for finite man, for only God Himself is totally free. Even non-Christians who deem themselves free from any restraint are bound by choices they make. They are slaves to sin. Sin also brings satanic control. It promises satisfaction but issues in misery. Ironically, slavery to Christ is true freedom.
We belong to whatever power we chose to obey.
Jn 8:34, Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”
Christians are in the risen Christ and share His death; we live the Christian life out of that relationship. Sin is not compatible with the grace of God.