"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?"
In response to Romans 5:20-21, where we learn that grace abounds even more where sin increased. Does that mean that we should keep on sinning so that grace may continue to abound? If grace is so much more abundant where sin is increased, then why not sin so much the more in order that grace may keep abounding? That is the question, and that is the issue most often brought up when the religious mind understands grace. The religious person responds in distrust: "What are you saying, that we can keep sinning so grace will abound?" While the non-religious person responds with antinomianism: "Wow! I can sin as much as I want and God's grace will cover it - that's great!" etc. But Paul makes it clear that this objection to grace, as well as the abuse of grace is not possible at all. For one thing, sin is not the cause for grace to abound. Paul didn't write in verse 20, "where sin increased, sin made grace abound all the more..." No, but rather he wrote, "but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (KJV). So since grace is a free gift of God and cannot be earned by good works, we should also realize that it cannot be earned by sin either. Grace is free, undeserved, and no sinning can bring more of it, since it is only freely given at God's own goodwill and pleasure.
In the next verses we find out just how impossible it is for us to continue in sin because of grace.
"By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"
The answer to the question in verse 1 is a strong, resounding NO! No way! May it never be!
Why? Paul answers the question with another question: How can we be dead and still be alive at the same time? In other words, we died to sin, so how can we be alive to it still? Those who are dead are no longer living, and those who have died to sin can no longer live in it anymore. It is an impossibility, a contradiction for a Christian to continue to live a sinful life, because he has died to sin.
A Death Poem:
Did you ever die?
What happens when someone dies?
First, they lose their ability to do anything. No more breathing, heart-beating, feeling, tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing. No more thinking, speaking, reading, writing, praying, being. No more moving.
Death takes everything away. No more wearing, buying, selling, enjoying. No more money, friends, family, health, house, city, town, pets, spouse, children, country.
All gain is lost. All hopes quenched. All plans ended. The past is gone, the future lost, the present restricted.
Death ends it all.
So, have you ever died? I don't mean physical death like I described above, because then you would not be reading this now. Have you died to this world? Have you died to sin? Have you died to self? Have you died to the law so that you may live to God in Christ who is the fulfillment and end of the law? Have you died with Christ, and so have you been raised to new life with Him? If so, just as you cannot live while being dead, you cannot continue in your old life of sin while being a Christian. That would be impossible.
I'm not forgetting the other objection to this teaching in Romans 6, and Paul didn't either, that is why we have Romans chapter 7. We are free from sin, yet we continue to fight with it until we are completely delivered from "this body of death". Nevertheless, we are dead to it, and so we walk in newness of life.
Let us remember, it is all of grace! And we must not forget it :D