Understanding the Bible 42: So…Sin Boldly? Paul and Christian Ethics

If, as Paul argues, salvation is by grace alone (a gift of God and not achieved by any act on our part), what does that imply for Christian ethics?  Can we therefore “sin boldly” — indulge our impulses and enjoy the party…?  I mean, if all is forgiven in the end, why not make good use of the “Get Out of Jail Free” card???  This was a major question for the early church, particularly as the church expanded into the pagan, Gentile world.  

Paul’s response (we look at Rom. 5:18-6:19) is that such a question fundamentally misunderstands the nature of sin!  Sin is not to be avoided because of the anger it stirs within God (as though God were a dispassionate judge concerned only with the rules), but because of the harm it does .  That is to say, sin is not the party it is cracked up to be – it does not deliver life (but is rather the means of death).  Sin is not a good (even a temporary one) that God is denying us, rather a harm that – as a Parent – God is seeking to deliver us from.   As a wise friend once said: “Sin is like poison – it doesn’t make you bad, it makes you dead.”


This is a sermon that was originally presented at Canvas (a Presbyterian church in Irvine, CA), July 13, 2014. To learn more about Canvas, click here!


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