What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (Romans 6:1-3)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Stop! Don’t do it. You’re going to read those words above as a command rather than a description. When they hear those words of St. Paul, people hear, “You’ve been saved, so now stop sinning.” But what Paul is saying is this: “You’re saved so now you can’t live in sin; you’ve been rescued from it. That’s your reality.”
The difference is this: The first way of understanding these words leaves our Christian life in our own hands as if it’s up to us to stop sinning and improve our lives. Now, don’t misunderstand. The Holy Spirit works the fruits of faith in those who believe so that we do indeed strive to love God and our neighbor. That’s what we do as the Spirit lives in us.
But when God looks at you, He doesn’t see your sin. He only sees you doing good works and being perfect and holy. How? Because you are baptized. And because your Baptism into Christ means all that He is and has done is yours. You aren’t holy in God’s sight because you don’t actually sin. You are holy in God’s sight because you are in Christ, who has covered all your sin and made it His own and died for it and left it in the grave forever.
Many Christians have a misguided idea that if we just tell ourselves (or others) to stop sinning because we’re Christians, that that’s going to work. But that’s not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who works through the Good News that God doesn’t hold your sins against you. It is that Good News that creates in us new impulses and a love for God’s Law. It’s that work in us through Christ’s Word and water and Body and Blood that the Spirit forgives what we have done and sanctifies what we do so that God counts us holy for Jesus’ sake.
So it’s okay to go ahead and sin because we’re forgiven? Of course not! But you can’t do that anyway because your sins are buried with Jesus and you are a new creation in Him. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Help us that we Thy saving Word In faithful hearts may treasure; Let e’er that Bread of Life afford new grace in richest measure. O make us die to ev’ry sin, Each day create new life within, That fruits of faith may flourish. (O Holy Spirit, Grant Us Grace, LSB 693:2)