“Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.”
Romans 6:17-18 NLT
Paul gives thanks to God for the Roman Christians, those pioneers in the faith who had come to realise that they were chained to their sins no more. And they were now able to embrace Paul’s teaching, without the hindrance of sin.
Paul freely uses the analogy of being a slave, a common sight and accepted as the norm in the culture of his day. Slaves had to do what they were told, regardless of their own thoughts and inclinations. They were not free to do what they wanted to do themselves. The wishes and commands of their masters were the overriding power and authority. Paul, very perceptively, saw that sin was just such a slave master. It chained its followers to a lifestyle of thoughts and actions that were totally against all that God is and that He wanted for them. At its roots, sin is rebellion against God. And sin holds someone, locked in a state so powerful that chains look quite feeble in comparison. We look around us and see slaves everywhere. Sin is a puppet with the devil, the slave master, pulling the strings. It is the devil who holds this world in slavery, but this is not to excuse us. The slaves in Paul’s day had no choice regarding their status but the slaves to sin do have a choice. We can walk away from our slavery to sin at any time through the Blood of Jesus, and there is nothing the devil can do about it. A sinner may be bound by chains but there is no lock and key.
Paul continued by pointing out that the Apostle’s teaching is sufficient to keep the Roman Christians away from being slaves to sin. And by following that teaching, those early Christians would find a different kind of slavery. They would become slaves of righteousness. Instead of being slaves of sinful living, they had become slaves of righteous living. A far better state to find themselves because slavery to sin leads to death, but slavery to righteousness leads to life. Jesus promised that to us, as we read in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” “Life … to the full” doesn’t just apply to this life, the finite number of years allotted to us on Planet Earth, but it also applies to the life to come. A person enslaved by sin will come to end of their natural life, only to find that their slavery continues in a way that they will eternally regret.
We pilgrims have made the right choice and we are slaves of righteousness. But in case someone reading this hasn’t made any choice yet, remember that the default position is being a slave to sin, and the consequences that will follow one day won’t be pleasant.
Dear Father God. We thank You for the free gift of eternal life through Your Son Jesus. We now walk a righteous pathway enslaved to You. Amen.