What shall we say then? We have the future tense here and it is used where a question of uncertainty is raised or expressed. Here we have a rhetorical question taking the place of a direct assertion. The rhetorical question introduced a false conclusion in order to set up what is really true. By doing this Paul anticipated the logical question from human viewpoint.
Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? Sin is the Greek word “harmartia” in the singular and is a reference to Adam’s original sin. Paul used debater’s technique for a rhetorical question which stated an erroneous conclusion/assumption in the form of a question. This is so that the question could be refuted and the false doctrine could be replaced by true and accurate doctrine.
So, in today’s vernacular we might say, “Since grace increases even more when we commit personal sin (which is the natural result of the imputation of Adam’s original sin and the inherent sin nature), let’s just keep sinning so we can experience more of God’s grace.” This, of course, is what Paul refuted in Romans 6:2 and following.
“May it never be” is a categorical denial of the false assumption. Paul expressed his abhorrence of a false conclusion which could lead to further legalism. God’s justice and righteousness does not depend upon the ability, the self-righteousness or the talent of man. Sin does not increase God’s grace. This strong idiom denied the allegation that committing more sins increases the amount of grace.
How shall we who died to sin, still live in it? The word died is the Greek verb “apothnesko,” which refers to retroactive positional truth, which is a result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Positionally, believers died with Christ when He died. This is retroactive positional death. The aorist tense refers to a momentary action which occurs at salvation, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and subsequent retroactive positional truth. The believer produces the action of the verb at salvation by faith in Christ. The action is very simple. The believer dies to the rulership of the sin nature. The sin nature is still alive in us (in the cell structure of the body) and we are still alive on this earth. But retroactively or positionally we have died to the sin nature, which we carry in the body. The believer dies, then, to the sin nature’s sovereignty in human life by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Living in the sin nature refers to continuing under the rule of the sin nature and following its trends of personal sin, good, and evil. After salvation the sin nature still resides in those contaminated cells of the body, but through the baptism of the Holy Spirit at salvation the power, the sovereignty, the rulership of the sin nature has been broken. Obviously because of its genetic origin the sin nature is not eradicated until either physical death or resurrection, whichever occurs first.
Though still present in our body of corruption, the sin nature has been robbed of its power to rule our lives. The only reason it still rules is that we exercise our volition in favor of it. A new power, the power of the Holy Spirit, has replaced the power of the sin nature, so that we have a choice to go with the sin nature or to go with the Holy Spirit.
The rhetorical question introduces the point of doctrine that there is a new life for the believer on earth, which is free from the sovereignty and the power of the sin nature. One of the applications, then, of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is retroactive positional truth. Retroactive positional truth has broken the power of the trends of the sin nature.
While imputed righteousness and subsequent justification is the basis for temporal blessing after salvation, the salvation ministries of the Holy Spirit provide the basis for breaking the sin nature’s rulership of human life. The salvation ministries of the Holy Spirit are specifically designed to provide the best environment for temporal blessings from the justice of God.
The environment provided by the salvation ministries of the Holy Spirit are internal since the Holy Spirit does not improve or whitewash the devil’s world. By internal is meant that these ministries of the Holy Spirit are related to both the body and the soul. They relate to the body where the sin nature dwells; they relate to the soul where doctrine must find residence. Remember that the sin nature dwells in the human body genetically and influences the human soul toward personal sin, good, and evil. From its genetic headquarters in the human body, the sin nature constantly seeks to rule the soul of mankind.
The Holy Spirit’s five ministries at salvation frustrate this activity of the sin nature. These five ministries of the Holy Spirit are designed to provide an encapsulated environment in the devil’s world, an environment which is actually better than what Adam had in the Garden.
In order to provide a spiritual environment in the devil’s world where the old sin nature rules human life, God the Holy Spirit has provided five separate ministries at the point of salvation so that we can have an environment better than the original environment of the Garden of Eden. Remember that in the Garden we had perfect persons, perfect environment and a perfect age. We need something much greater than what our original parents had, but there are two problems. Since the fall of man Satan is the ruler of this world and the sin nature is the ruler of human life. The environment for the royal family of God in the devil’s world during the Church Age is actually provided by these five ministries of God the Holy Spirit at the point at which we make salvation adjustment to the justice of God by faith alone in Christ alone.
This is an encapsulated environment in the devil’s world and the provision for this comes from five specific ministries. This environment is provided for the royal family of God for grow from spiritual babyhood to spiritual maturity, which is the only way we can glorify God. The emphasis in the Word of God is not on production but on spiritual growth. The emphasis in apostasy is on production, and the implication and allegation is that whenever we do certain things for God, God is going to bless us. That is not only legalism but it is blasphemy. We cannot do anything for the blessing of God. The blessing of God is based upon what God has provided and God has provided an encapsulated grace pipeline with the righteousness of God on the receiving end and the justice of God on the originating end. And so each ministry of the Holy Spirit at salvation in someway creates that encapsulated environment necessary for the breaking of both satanic power and the sin nature’s sovereignty over human life.