“19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” (Romans 6:19-22)

 

The question that starts to be posed now with this slave transaction is if we are slaves to God and righteousness now, how does that bring freedom?  To answer this, I think we must look even further into what this slavery is all about to help better understand how the first bondage; slaves to sin has a misconstrued freedom.  Then, the second bondage; how becoming slaves to righteousness really does bring with it freedom.

First, being slaves to sin must be seen as the dominion that it has over our lives.  Sin is an oppressor that we were living under.  In that condition, there is no choice that can be made.  We are not sitting on a fence with righteousness on one side and sin on the other where we can venture back and forth since there is no true righteousness apart from God.  We are on the sin’s side of the wall and it cannot be penetrated with access to the other side without the redeeming work of Christ.  When He “buys” us out from under sin’s ownership through the work on the cross, that wall is torn down.  Thus, until that purchase is received and the new covenant is signed, sin is the fruit of our actions, because it is the driving force behind our decisions. It is the controlled state that we are born under. To a sin slave, the other side of that wall is not appealing, in fact, it can be seen as appalling, largely because the true freedom that comes from it is hidden from us.  Because of this disdain for righteousness, we are lured into believing that we are free in our current state.  It goes back to the twisting of the truth in the garden.  If you eat from the tree, you won’t die, you will be like God.  God is keeping something from you that you have a right to.  Don’t you want that?  When that is the mindset, we are tricked into thinking that what He is keeping us from is freedom.  Why can’t I do what I want?  The answer to that question has been there since the beginning; death.  The fruit of sin and living under its bondage is death.

We do not see that as the case until the transaction for our souls has been made.  This transaction is done through the work of God on our behalf.  Our part in the deal is receiving it.  It requires faith and trust on our behalf, but all of the work done is by Him.  So, now the question becomes why is this new “slavery” more appealing than the old one?  The Israelites struggled with answering this in Exodus when the Lord led them out of bondage in Egypt.

10 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:10-12)

At least when we were slaves in Egypt, we knew what our situation was the Israelites would say.  They thought they were in control.  It was a false sense of freedom, and more importantly, a false sense of living.  In their minds, serving the Egyptians as slaves was living and breaking that bondage was dying.  It was a fear of the unknown, a fear of something that they could not wrap their minds around, but it was a death trap that the Lord was redeeming them from.  Little did they know, He was going to part the Red Sea, send them manna and quail, provide for their travels, and eventually deliver them into the new land that He had promised.  It was a process of them trusting, then getting scared and losing trust, Him pulling them out of the jam that they got in because of the lack of trust, then trusting again, and on and on and on.

That same death trap is the bondage of sin that we live in, and the true freedom comes in the “slavery” that we are transformed into as we becomes slaves to righteousness. We wander through the wilderness of our lives with this same cycle of trust, mistrust, disobedience, and then redemption. So Paul, that is great, but why would I want to exchange one form of slavery for another one?  He addresses this is verse 19:

“19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

He uses the word slavery to be consistent in the argument, but it is not the same kind of hopeless oppression that we were under before.  The reason it is different is grace.  In the first case, being a slave to sin we were getting what we deserved.  We were guilty of the bondage that we were under and the result of death was warranted.  In the new bondage to righteousness, the stronghold of sin in our lives is broken.  The allure is still there because our flesh has not been redeemed yet.  We have addressed this before and will elaborate on when we get to chapter 7, but its power over us is gone.  Now what takes its place is a beautiful look at God’s perfect righteousness which is so compelling that a true justified soul sees no other option but to serve this righteousness wholeheartedly.  As Paul continues to paint this picture we see that there is no way that justification can take place without sanctification.  That process of sanctification brings us closer and closer to serving righteousness every day.  This work will be carried out until its completion and He equips us every day to get closer and closer to this freedom.  What we start to begin seeing as this righteousness becomes more real in our lives is the true result of this freedom; eternal life.

 

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Matt Uzzell

Born and raised on the south side of San Antonio, I am a graduate of McCollum High School and Trinity University. After spending ten years in public education, I decided to go back and get another piece of paper and earned my Master’s in Educational Administration from Lamar University. I am called to be a football coach that is humbly serving at my alma mater; Trinity University. I have authored and independently published a book entitled “Salt, Light, and Friday Nights” that illustrates this calling.

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