Paul’s audience must have an obvious question. They are sinners apart from the Law. They are justified apart from the Law. Where there is a Law, it is given to increase the trespass so that justification by grace may abound. Why not, then, simply continue in sin? If justification is by grace alone, does it really matter how we live?
Paul claims that those who are in Christ by grace have been changed. They are no longer wretched. They have been raised in Christ to newness of life. Their hearts have been changed. So, we do not say that people must now resist sin because they are in Christ. Instead, we say that they no longer desire to sin because they have been changed from the inside out. We do not lord the commands of Scripture or our own moralizations over others. Instead, we recognize what Scripture teaches—if we are in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin. Our old selves have been crucified with Christ and we are free from the sin nature. This is a matter of identity, not outward religiosity. We do not continue in sin because we are no longer sinners. We have died with Christ and are raised to new life in Him instead of sin.