Transferred to The Reign of Grace
A Sermon on Romans 6:1-2
Believers Are Dead to Sin, Alive to God
1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2Far from it! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
What does it mean to have died to sin in Christ? This is a debated phrase that has had a number of interpretations throughout church history. In this sermon on Romans 6:12 titled “Transferred to the Reign of Grace,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that understanding this Scripture is vital. This is important not merely as an academic exercise, but for the Christian life. He says that to have died to sin means that God has declared the Christian justified in Christ and a new person. It is the divine pronouncement of God’s favor and total forgiveness for all who believe in Jesus Christ. The emphasis, says Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, is always on what God has done for His people. This is why Paul expects the charge that he is encouraging sin so that grace might abound; he anticipates that this view of grace could be misunderstood. This sermon asks all saved people: “why are you in Christ? Has God declared you holy and in His Son?” It challenges Christians to see if they have truly believed in the gospel and received salvation from God. For only by believing in the cross of Jesus Christ can anyone be saved and made a child of God.
- The apostle Paul is addressing a question that was raised in Romans 6:1 - "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?"
- Paul rejects this suggestion outright saying "God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?"
- The translation "we that are dead to sin" is incorrect. The proper translation is "we that died to sin". This points to an act in the past, not an ongoing state.
- There are several incorrect interpretations of this verse that can be rejected:
- That Christians are dead to the influence and power of sin (perfectionism)
- That Christians ought to be dead to sin
- That Christians are dying more and more to sin
- Charles Hodge incorrectly interprets this to mean that Christians have renounced sin. This interpretation puts too much emphasis on human effort and not enough on God's work.
- A better interpretation is that Christians have died to the reign and rule of sin, not just its guilt. Sin no longer has dominion over Christians.
- This is proven by several other passages like Colossians 1:13, Acts 26:18, and Philippians 3:20 that speak of being transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.
- Christians are either under the reign of sin or the reign of grace. They cannot be under both. Christians have been taken out from under the reign of sin and placed under the reign of grace.
- The objection that Christians still sin does not contradict this. There is a difference between a Christian's position and their experience. Christians may still sin out of habit and forgetfulness of their new position.
- The reign of grace guarantees a Christian's final salvation and victory over sin. Grace is more powerful than sin.
- The exhortations for Christians to reckon themselves dead to sin and not let sin reign are calls for Christians to live in light of the truth of their position, not calls to accomplish these things through their own effort.
The Book of Romans
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.