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? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. —Romans 6:1-4 ESV
So then, what is Paul’s answer to why people who are justified by grace through faith do not continue in sin? His answer is in verse 2. After he says, “No, may it never be!” he gives the basis of his answer in the form of a question: “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” That’s his answer in the briefest form. The rest of the chapter explains.
Let’s make sure we see this little sentence clearly. It’s a rhetorical question. That means Paul doesn’t expect an answer. He expects us to see the answer already in the question, when he says, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” The answer is, We can’t. In other words, rhetorical questions don’t expect answers; they make statements.
For example, kids, if your dad says, “How are you going to keep your room neat if you throw your clothes on the floor and never hang them up or put them in the drawers?,” he’s not looking for an answer. He’s making a statement: You won’t keep your room neat if you throw your clothes on the floor and don’t hang them up. Or if your mom says, “How can you expect people to be your friend if you’re not friendly?,” she’s not looking for an answer. She’s making a statement. Perhaps a plea. You won’t have friends if you are not friendly.
Well, that is the way Paul is using the rhetorical question in Romans 5:2. He is not expecting an answer; he is making a statement: “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” There is no answer to this “how” question. We can’t live in sin if we died to it. That is his statement. That is his answer to the objection.
So, in summary form:
- Objection: If justification is on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, not ours, by grace through faith alone, then shouldn’t we continue in sin that grace might increase?
- Answer: No!
- Reason: Because if you died to sin, you can’t go on living in it. Or to put it bluntly: Dead people don’t sin.