What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
When I was at the seminary the students who lived in the dormitory had a laundry facility at our disposal. There were several dryers built into the wall and a bank of washing machines. All of them were equipped with slots in which quarters were accepted to pay for the use of the machine, water, and power. There was one thing, however, a certain dryer, the third one from the right, on the bottom row, had a broken switch. If you closed the door and hit the start button, it started. No coins involved.
I have since wondered whether this wasn’t a bit of mercy on the part of the maintenance staff who never seemed to get around to fixing this or was it really a test on the part of the faculty to see what we would do. It might have just been a broken dryer too. I don’t know that any of us paid to dry our clothes that year.
Paul says that now that we have been baptized with Christ, our very nature has fundamentally changed. We won’t sin for the simple purpose of increasing the amount of grace, we won’t game the system because we can. Paul imagines us saying that God will forgive every sin, so should we just sin more to get more forgiveness! “By no means!” shouts Paul in response. We are different.
If the broken dryer was a test, I fear that I and my classmates failed it that year. We saved our quarters. Probably bought beer with the money we did not put into dryers. Its not like it got sent to missions. I like to think that faced with the same choice, today I might either report the broken machine or use one that still worked properly. But I am not sure. The old man clings tightly to me (see chapter 7 of Romans – he clung tightly to Paul as well.) But Jesus has set me on another path, one which Paul has charted for me here. I will not sin simply to get some more forgiveness. Someday, I will not sin at all. I will keep all those commandments and love doing it.