S (Scripture): Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? 6:2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 6:3 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.
O (Observation): Paul lifts up the fact that just as Adam sinned, we all sin. And even though we experience grace to overcome our sin, we are not to keep on sinning.
Paul is still working with Jews who believe in Jesus, and is helping them to see that obedience to the law is not the same as receiving grace. And that receiving grace is NOT a free ticket to continue sinning! Nope.
Our baptism, argues Paul, is our entry point to a life in Christ. And as a juxtaposition, our life truly starts in our death. Our death comes in baptism, when we are buried with Christ. Then, we live in a new way.
A (Application): Cheap grace. That’s what most of us Christians believe in these days. We think: “Now that I know I’m forgiven, I can do whatever I want, with no guilt or consequences.”
Paul couldn’t disagree more. As God ushers us into the covenant, our old self dies. Our earthly desires are to take a back seat, while we discern what God is saying to us and what we might do next.
I’ll let Bonhoeffer take it home:
Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?…
Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer “The Cost of Discipleship”
P (Prayer): Lord you give us quite a load to bear…but your Son, Jesus Christ, promises to bear it with us. Call us to repentance, and usher us in with your grace. Change us, from the inside out. Amen.