Nearly every human being with a taste for mischief explores what Paul says in Romans 5. If sin’s forgiveness magnifies grace, why not just sin? Paul’s answer might surprise some of us.
The answer to this mischievous exploration is baptism. Yes, that’s right. Romans 6:1-4 sets it out: “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” “Never!,” Paul says. Why? Because we’ve been baptized.
Once again: Law increases sin; sin is “hyper-increased” by grace. Therefore, the more sin the more grace. That is mischievous moral logic. Why? Because of baptism.
Baptism, according to Paul, is dying in Jesus’ death and rising in Jesus’ resurrection. Baptism is our incorporation into Jesus, it is participation in Jesus’ own recapitulation.
Baptism ushers a person into Christ. Baptism is a picture of both death and resurrection. So, the power for a life “beyond sin” is the elimination of death by dying with Christ and the acquisition of life by rising with Christ.
Now, for those of us who grew up in that very-low church tradition where baptism meant nothing — even though it was made sure that everyone got dunked, this message shocks a bit. Does Paul really believe that baptism ushers us into Christ? Clearly. No other way to read Romans 6:1-4. Does this mean “baptism saves”? Now we’re asking questions as Paul’s opponents ask. Of course not. Christ saves. And we enter into Christ by undergoing baptism because we have come to trust in Christ.