"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV)
I have been going through the book, Because He Love's Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick with a few woman from my church. It seemed like the right time to do so because our pastor is preaching through Romans. I have been very blessed by both the book and the preaching, and I am rejoicing that my church is hearing what I have believed for so long to be true.
One of the questions that is frequently raised about living a grace-based faith is related to how we are to live under grace. People usually ask if they can still drink/smoke/party? They want to know if they have to stop watching their favorite programs, even if they are a little "off color?" Some defiantly say that if the Christian is clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and no longer under condemnation, why bother changing at all? If everything depends on Christ and my security in heaven is locked up, why does it matter how I life my life? Can't I just do as I please?
The answer is found in Romans 6:2 and the following verses.
Here is truth: a person who desires to do as they please, or who thinks it is just fine to live in sin because of grace is not desiring to honor and glorify God with their life. They have ignored the command to be holy.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” ! Peter 1:14-16 (NASB)
I would also say those who ignore the commands of Scripture really do not understand the gospel and don't see themselves as being in Christ. If a person desires to continue to live as they please they must not understand that in that union with Christ they have been empowered to live a new life! They have been given the ability to live the Christ-life and are able to live HIS righteousness! Every born-again believer is literally dead to sin.
Do you realize the gospel means that we have no excuse to live under the dominion of sin? We have no leeway to say things like, "I couldn't help it" or "It's not my fault" "Something just came over me." None of those excuses apply to the Believer in Christ who has been clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
When you and I sin, it is because we decide to. We actively set aside our Christ-righteousness, and we walk (or run) back to the tomb where our former self: dead, stinking, decaying, rotting, maggoty, filthy old formerly-known-as-you lay waiting for you to resurrect it and give it life once again. We dig it up and strap it on and away we go off to fulfill the wicked desires of our hearts. Like Dr. Frankenstein, once we breathe life into it we find it is very difficult to kill the monster.
Paul says that we are not obligated to live like that anymore. We do not have to live like slaves to our old sinful selves. Sin has no power over us.
"How shall we who died to sin living in it any longer?" V2
On the basis of who we are in Christ we can stop any talk of living a sinful lifestyle and excusing our sin. We have been given an exalted position in the heavenlies, in Christ and we have the ability to live like it.
"Our old man was crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died has been freed from [the power] of sin." V6-7
Do you believe this?
Is believing this enough to help you overcome sexual immorality? Is it enough to overcome lying, anger or fear? Believing it is true is crucial and then you must live like you believe it is true. Believe in your heart that because of the gospel you are dead to sin and alive in Christ, and begin to live that way.
Commit to memory pertinent verses about the victory you have in Christ, or put them on your smart phone as your wallpaper. Make their references your computer log in ID, or some other password that you use repeatedly. Not only will you be reminded constantly of the truth from God's Word, but as you change them frequently you will be adding security to your online access. It is such a simple thing, yet it will help change your life.
Memorizing verses is not enough however! I have so many people who are stuck in the same sinful rut tell me, "I've memorized all these verses!" The trouble is, they haven't done anything with what they know. You must act on the truth as I said before. Stop living out your sinful desires, and begin to practice godly habits. It won't happen overnight, but with diligence you will begin to see the fruit of your labor bloom into a harvest of righteousness and holiness.