"Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?"
People always raise this question when they begin to grasp the teaching of grace. But instead of rejoicing in it, they jump to a wrong conclusion. They think grace teaching takes a soft stance on sin or even gives people a license to continue in it.
Paul had written, "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). The leGalatiansist reasoned something like this: "Paul, if it is true, as you say, that God's grace increases much more to deal with man's sin, why not continue to allow sin to run free in order for God's grace to shine through even more gloriously?"
Paul answers with the strongest "No!" in the Greek language. The King James version translates it as "God forbid!" Today we might say, "No, no way!"
God protests sin as it is against His holy character. Then He asks His own challenging question: "How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" He is not expressing the impossibility of [a believer] living in sin, but rather how illogical and contrary to God's purpose it would be for believers to do so since we have died to it. The reason for the Cross was especially to separate man from his sinning . . .
This "oneness" [that the believer has with Christ] extends beyond His death to His burial and resurrection, for verse 4 goes on to say, "Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." When Christ died, there is a very real sense in which we died with Him. When He was buried, we were buried with Him. And when He rose from the dead, we rose with Him. This actually happened almost 2,000 years ago when Christ died and rose again but it is not made a part of us personally until we believe the gospel of grace.
This is where it starts to get deep because we cannot appeal to human experience to prove this. We do not feel it or perceive it with our senses. The only way that we know about it [and believe it] is by reading about it in the Word of God, and that takes faith. I do not know how God put me to death with Christ 2,000 years before I was born but I believe it because He said it. The problem is our perspective. We live in the present; God inhabits eternity. We see a little sliver of human history; God sees the end from the beginning. There is nothing too hard for God. Our union to Christ is what Bible teachers refer to as "positional truth." All believers have a present position in Christ as being united with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection.
-- Ken Lawson