The Bible teaches that Christians are not under the law as a way of salvation. Christ has set us free from the guilt and condemnation of sin by His bloody death and resurrection. But that does not mean believers are free to live licentious lives. In fact, the grace of God in the gospel enables us to keep His good law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, as an expression of love to God and others. Reformed confessions of faith teach that the law and the gospel “do sweetly comply” (WCF 19.7, SD 19.7, 2LCF 19.7).
The Bible is full of positive statements about the role of the law in the life of the believer. David says “Oh how I love your law” (Ps 119:97). The preacher of Ecclesiastes sums up the believing life and says, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl 12:13). Jesus Himself says, “Not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Matt 5:18). Paul says, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Rom 3:31). Paul the faithful Apostle of grace said, “I delight in the law of God in my inner being” (Rom 7:22) and “I myself serve the law of God” (Rom 7:25). Paul also explains that Christ died for us “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:4). And in another place, Paul says that Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness” (Titus 2:14). Revelation sums up the duty of all believers when it says, “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Rev 14:12; cf. 12:17).
Romans 6:14 is especially important in this regard. It says, “For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law, but under grace.” But what is sin? Paul says, “Through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). John says, “Sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn 3:4). So, Paul’s meaning in Rom 6:14 is “Lawlessness will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law, but under grace.” In other words, grace overcomes the dominion, or rule of lawlessness in our lives. This post is about how grace overcomes our lawlessness. But to understand how grace overcomes our lawlessness, we first need to understand the reason we sin.
1. The Reason We Sin
Desire. The root of all sin is desiring something in this world more than Christ, which is idolatry. You may want inward peace, or you may want honor, or security, or justice. Often what you want isn’t wrong in itself. But inordinate desire for things other than God, for things of the world, or concupiscence, is wrong. The highest desire of every human being is to have a satisfying life. The problem arises when you think the created world can give you the life you want.
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Tom Hicks serves as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Clinton, LA. He's married to Joy, and they have four children: Sophie, Karlie, Rebekah, and David. He received his MDiv and PhD degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a major in Church History, emphasis on Baptists, and with a minor in Systematic Theology. Tom is the author of The Doctrine of Justification in the Theologies of Richard Baxter and Benjamin Keach (PhD diss, SBTS). He serves on the board of directors for Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary and is an adjunct professor of historical theology for the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies.