In Christ, believers are dead to sin.
As a pastor, I frequently encounter people who profess to be believers, yet are living in all kinds of vile sins. The incongruity of people claiming to be believers while living in constant, unrepentant sin was not lost on the apostle Paul. In Romans 6:1 he asked the rhetorical question, “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” In verse 2 he answered his own question by exclaiming “May it never be!”—the strongest, most emphatic negation in the Greek language. It expressed Paul’s horror and outrage at the thought that a true Christian could remain in a constant state of sinfulness. For a person to claim to be a Christian while continuing in habitual sin is absurd and impossible.
Paul goes on in verse 2 to explain why believers cannot continue to live in sin, asking, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” His point is that believers, at salvation, died to sin. Therefore, they cannot live in a constant state of sinfulness, because it is impossible to be both dead and alive at the same time. Those who continue in unrepentant sin thereby give evidence that they are spiritually dead, no matter what they may claim.
Unbelievers are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), walking “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (v. 2). Believers, on the other hand, have been “delivered . . . from the domain of darkness, and transferred . . . to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).
Christians no longer live in the realm of sin, though they still commit sins.
Having a proper understanding of the believer’s relationship to sin is foundational to progressing in holiness. Take comfort today in the reality that sin, though still dangerous, is a defeated foe.
Suggestions for Prayer
• Praise God who, because of His mercy and love, made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:4-5).
• Ask Him to help you walk worthy of that high calling (Eph. 4:1).
For Further Study
Read the following passages: John 8:31; 2 Cor. 13:5; James 2:14-26. Is every profession of faith in Jesus Christ genuine? Explain.
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187