Romans 6:19-22

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 11, 2015 0 comments
by Katie Erickson 

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:19-22)

In order for this section of Romans to make any sense, you really need to read the previous section, which you can do here. The example Paul is referring to is about being a slave; everyone is a slave to something, whether to sin or to righteousness.

Slavery is a concept that the people of his era would have been very familiar with, so this would help them understand the concepts he’s trying to explain. However, slavery then was not necessarily like what we think of slavery today. Today, many of us think of slavery in the context of African slaves being bought, sold, and treated harshly by white people in the southern states of the U.S. back in the 1800s. Often times, slavery in Bible times was due to an unpaid debt. If you owed money and did not have the ability to pay it, you could work off your debt for a set period of time by being a slave. There were situations in which slaves were bought and sold as property, but often slavery was a voluntary thing because of a debt.

As Paul has been talking about, we are all slaves to something, and there are two choices: you can be a slave to sin, or you can be a slave to righteousness. If you’re a slave to sin, that leads to death. But, if you’re a slave to righteousness (and to God), that leads to holiness and eternal life!

If you could have the choice between death and life, which would you choose? Well, you do have the choice! We all can choose whether to obey the sinful desires of the flesh, or to obey the ways of God and follow Him. Each one of us makes that choice daily, in and through the everyday choices we make.

Paul emphasizes here that there needs to be a transition. When you begin your journey of faith in Jesus Christ, you have to realize that you serve a new master now. Before, you were a slave to sin because you didn’t know there was any other choice. Now, however, you have the choice to transition to serving your new master in Jesus, or to continue serving the old master of sin. Paul makes the consequences clear; if you choose to serve sin you receive death, but if you choose to serve Jesus you receive life.

The 16th century theologian Martin Luther had a saying: “simul iustus et peccator.” That’s Latin for “simultaneously righteous and sinner.” Those of us who have faith in Jesus Christ are considered righteous in God’s sight, because of what Jesus has done for us. But, as long as we are in this world, we will still commit sinful acts. We are righteous and sinners at the same time. There is a cool T-shirt available here that has a neat way of illustrating this (be sure to look at it right side up and upside down).

Because we are both righteous and sinners at the same time, every choice we make brings us closer to one of those aspects. We are either enslaved to sin, or we are enslaved to righteousness. Which path are you on? What are you enslaved to in your life?

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