Romans 6:17-20 (ESV) says, “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, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 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. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.”
Did you know, fellow believer, that you were once a slave to sin? When you think of a slave…what generally comes to mind? Please ponder about that for a moment.
When Romans 6 uses the word slave it’s originating from the word “doulos.” Doulos has a number of serious implications with it, which we’ll discuss in a moment, but generally it is employed in relationship to being owned by, belonging to, and being wholly subordinate to one’s master. To bring this home, the Bible makes it expressly clear – we were once owned by, belonged to, and were completely subordinate to our sin – which was our master as long as we dwelled in it, apart from Christ.
Romans 6 continues though – that once we become obedient from the heart (the heart / desire change I often refer to away from the world, and to Christ in response) we have been set free from sin, and made slaves to righteousness / Christ! If there was ever Someone to be a slave to, it is certainly Jesus Christ. It is this level of obedience that He demands from His people. Well what does this obedience / slavery to Christ look like? For that we return to the word doulos. First, the world connotates absolute obedience (Matt 8:5-9, Luke 7:2-10) to one’s master. In our case – Jesus Christ. This is unquestioning obedience, and for the believer – absolute respect of Scripture like
(2 Timothy 3:16-17) demands. Also, compulsory obedience (Luke 6:46). Our immediate responses should be both to desire to, as well as physically respond in Christ-likeness always. Thirdly, this slavery to Christ entails consistent, immediate obedience (John 13:16). We should be unwavering in this way. Fourth – as the Bible tells us that we cannot serve two masters (Matt 6:24), our obedience must be exclusive to He and He alone. If our slavery and servitude to Christ is not exclusive, we are willingly engaging in idol-worship and sinning against the Lord. Finally, our obedience should be loyal (John 15:20). Our Savior demands absolute loyalty, born in a desire to do so, to Himself.
This is what putting off of the old man, and putting on the new man looks like in practicality. This is what it means to put away the things of this world, and focus solely on Christ. Unwavering obedience and willing slavery, in humility, to Jesus Christ.
Where are you in this commitment? Have you examined yourself before the Lord in this way? Are you able to communicate these Truths to those you disciple? Are you living it yourself? Are you a willing-slave to Jesus Christ?