Romans 6. Grace is Freedom!

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans 6.

I have always loved the way this chapter begins. Chapter 5 is all about God’s grace. Now, Paul asks this thought-provoking question: “So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving?” (Romans 6:1, MSG). Do we keep on behaving poorly so God can keep on giving us more and more and more of His grace?  Here are a few different translations of verse 2:

By no means! (NIV)
I should hope not! (MSG)
What a terrible thought! (TPT)
Heaven forbid! (CJB)
Of course not! (NLT)
May it never be! (TLV)

I used to be a king at rationalizing. I’m pretty sure that if I was reading the words of Chapter 5 when Paul was writing it, I would have been one of the first to ask that question. It’s a logical one for our human mind. So, I’m glad to see the answer to his own question. It makes me wonder if Paul likely asked it of God and this answer was for the Apostle’s benefit as well as for ours.

Like wave after wave, grace continues to lap along the seashore of our lives.

To be clear, more sin on our part does not equal more grace on God’s part. Although, Jesus pointed to a woman at a meal at Simon the Pharisee’s home in Luke 7: “She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” (Luke 7:47, MSG). Our assignment in fully accepting God’s grace is to recognize that we are all sinners, and none of us deserve His grace. And we are to be thankful no matter if the perceived amount of His grace is one ounce or a thousand tons! In reality, we cannot quantify it.

John Newton was a slave trader, British ship captain, and author of the famous hymn “Amazing Grace.” He said it this way: “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” *

Paul says we get to bury that sinful life in baptism. And just as Jesus was raised to life, we too can live a life of freedom from the bondage of sin. That’s why Jesus came! Recall, Jesus said in Luke 4, quoting Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV).

Our baptism reminds of that. It is a mark on our spiritual journey. It’s a public proclamation that allows us to say, “No, I am going to live differently than I used to live. I am going to live fully embracing the freedom and grace Jesus offers. I am set free from sin. I have been forgiven!

I like walking along the beach. It reminds me, like wave after wave, grace continues to lap along the seashore of our lives. It never runs out! So, how do we live out this grace each day?  Back to Romans 6:

“That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.”(Romans 6:12-14, MSG).

May the Holy Spirit empower you to”throw yourself into God’s way of doing things” today. And please pray that He allows me to do the same!


(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

*John Pollock, Amazing Grace: John Newton’s Story (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981. Page 182.

Advent Day 12, the Gift of Grace

December 12, 2011

The Gift of Grace

This Advent Daily Devotional is focusing on the gifts God gives us, as uncovered in the book of Ephesians. 

What is grace besides the prayer often offered before a meal?  Grace is a gift.  And it often looks different depending upon who is using the gift.

Have you heard the story of a man who fell down some icy steps?  While he may not have been too graceful as he slipped and tumbled, he says the gift of grace looked completely different in each person that came to his rescue.  The first person helped him up, examined where it hurt, took him inside and put an ice bag on the injury.  This person had the grace gift of mercy.  A second person came up and asked him why he hadn’t properly poured salt on the icy steps before hand.  This person had the grace gift of exhortation.  And still a third person showed the man how to properly hold on to the hand rail and slowly work his way up each step, little by little.  This person had the grace gift of teaching.  Three different people, three different expressions of the same grace gift.[1]

Ephesians 4:7:

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  (NIV)

But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. (The Message)

Grace.  Being given a second chance.  And a third chance.  And a fourth chance.  And, as many “do-overs” as we need in order to fully accept all the love that God has for each one of us.

Some have suggested that no single man sums up the definition of grace like the man behind the song “Amazing Grace” … John Newton.  Do you know his story?  He was a slave trader, the captain of a ship in the mid 1700’s that regularly travelled the Triangle Trade Route.  Beginning with an empty cargo hold in England, he would travel to Africa and pack over 600 units of “human cargo” – slaves – onto the ship.  He would then sail to America and deliver his cargo in exchange for money and goods made in America that were needed in England where he would conclude for a short season and start all over again.  He met Christ during a terrible tempest aboard his vessel.  He ultimately left the sea and studied for the ministry.  Near the end of his life he was pastor at the Saint Peter and Paul Church of England in Olney Parish.    At age 82, Newton said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things:  that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.”[2] He is buried in the cemetery there.  On his tombstone reads these words:

John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves inAfrica, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.

Amazing Grace!  What a gift!

May you be a recipient and a giver of this gift today.

Father God, thank for the Gift of Grace.  Thank you for the chance to start over again no matter how often.  Thank you that I can receive your love new and fresh day after day after day.  As you have given me grace, may I be quick to offer it to others.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2011. Rich Ronald

[1] Ed Taylor, Spiritual Gifts, February, 2002