Slaves of Righteousness
The scripture calls us both free and slaves. It may seem a bit confusing but the Gospel is very counter-intuitive. We think real freedom is doing whatever we want but that so often leads to a horrible form of bondage. Real freedom is only experienced when we voluntarily surrender to the reign of God in our lives. In the World system the way to win is to conquer but in the Kingdom of God the way to victory is surrender. Jesus tells us the way to life is to lose it. The Gospel is meant to be counter-cultural. In the world we win by dominating but in the Kingdom we win by washing feet. In Romans Paul shows us we are free from a self-absorbed life to be slaves of righteousness. It is a simple call to be true to our identity because we are made righteous through faith.
Romans 6:17–19 “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”
The Gospel delivers us from sin. The verse starts off with thanksgiving to God. The gospel liberates us from the reign of sin. We have so much to be grateful for having been delivered from the tyranny of our former master, sin. While we were still slaves to sin we heard the Gospel. Someone brought us the good news, we believed, and our lives were changed forever.
We are now free to obey! Those who obeyed from their heart, as the Bible teaches, experience the freedom to obey. Don’t be afraid of this word. While the Law demanded our obedience it didn’t empower it; grace empowers us to a life of obedience. Obedience is not something we do in our own power but by yielding ourselves to God’s indwelling life. Obedience doesn’t produce or preserve salvation but it is the fruit of our salvation.
Grace produces righteousness: There has been a transfer of the ownership of our lives here. We’ve been purchased by Christ by the grace of God. Being free from the law doesn’t mean we are not obligated to a life of obedience. Now that we are under grace we are obligated to obey Him. Grace and obedience are not opposed to one another. This is the essence of living under the reign of Christ. We are no longer slaves to our self-serving and self-destructive lives. Grace sets us free to express our righteousness. It’s who we are!
Rome was full of slaves, indeed many of the Christians in Rome were slaves. Paul used a picture they could easily understand. Our freedom is a perfect freedom but our human minds find it difficult to understand. So Paul used the figure of slavery to explain it, harsh and unworthy though it is. The picture of slavery shows the total obligation and accountability of the slave to his master.
Sin was normal for the old you. The old sinful you could do nothing but sin because you were a sinner, a slave to sin. The beauty of dying to sin and coming alive is to Christ is there is a whole new normal. For the believer to live as a slave to sin is a freak of nature. It’s as strange as a cat barking or a dog meowing. It is contrary to who you are in Christ.
Present yourself to God a slave of righteousness. We are slaves and are called to present ourselves to our new master’s purposes and will. Our old master had nothing good for us and placed us in ever increasing bondage and death. Grace liberated us to a life of righteousness. As you begin the week, and each day, ask yourself, “Am I presenting myself to God as a slave of righteousness?” Remember, a slave doesn’t do what he or she wants but serves the desires of their master. We have a master who only desires our best.
Have an incredible week lifting up Jesus and His finished work.
You are loved!