The Good Book Club | Week of January 21

This week: Romans 6:1—8:8

Paul opens chapter 6 with a good question, one we might all have asked at some point: If nothing we do (or stop doing) can earn our salvation—and indeed it is only by grace that we are saved—then why stop sinning? Might continued sinning be okay based on an equation that more sin equals more grace? If we can never earn an A+ in God’s grade book, then why try?

Paul spends most of this week’s readings addressing these questions. He moves from justification by faith to the necessity of sanctification and holy living. Yes, grace is at the heart of the Christian life, but how we receive and act upon that grace is important too. Sin separates us from God, when our goal should be union with God—theosis. The end of sanctification is eternal life; the wages of sin are death. In other words, the stakes are high. A life without sin is impossible without the grace of God, but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving for it. My teenage daughter doesn’t think she’ll get a top score on the Advanced Placement Statistics test—but she’s not allowed to stop studying (much to her chagrin).

We may not always understand our own decisions, we may do the things that we know not to, and we may avoid the actions that we should take. God knows: This life is hard—throughout chapter seven, he talks about his own journey of faith. But, Paul insists: God through Christ Jesus rescues us, helps us start anew, and so we must recommit time and again to a holy life patterned after Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

For Discussion

  • If we can’t earn our salvation, what’s the point in trying?

  • Paul describes the relationship between Christian and sin in several ways, including death, baptism, slave, and master. What do you think of these descriptions? How would you describe the relationship?

  • How can you encourage those (and perhaps yourself) who feel like they keep losing the battle with sin?

  • What does it mean to be a mature Christian? Is Paul one? Are you?

(forward day by day)