A friend of mine often uses questions that lead to an answer he already wants to give. For example, “You might ask how tall is the Empire State Building?” He would then respond with the answer. (1,453 feet, 8 9/16th inches)
Again, Paul uses a question already in the minds of his readers to address another point of understanding relating to the Gospel of Christ. Paul has to insist that his theory doesn’t give his listeners license to sin. So when Paul asks, “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?”, not only does he respond with a “By no means!”, he expresses what it means to be free from sin not free to sin.
Striving to follow the Law brought death since it was impossible to meet the standard. Now through grace we are free, but we are bought with a price and we and for those of us who believe we are now slaves to God. What does that mean? We now follow a higher standard as we are now “obedient from the heart’.
In Matthew 5:17-48, Jesus revealed the higher standard of grace:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Read the remainder of the passage to see the higher standard Christ requires for those living in obedience. He lived in a time when people used their Law to excuse their hatred for others, who used the law as an excuse to divorce, and failed to love their enemies. Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching when he gives us no wiggle room regarding our lives. We are either slaves to sin or we are slaves to righteousness.
Read His words. A life that attempts to straddle the fence is a most miserable life. It is more than frustrating. It is impossible. In the end “lawlessness leads to more lawlessness” ending in spiritual death. On the other hand, obedience leads to more obedience, sanctification and eternal life through the grace of God.