“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”—Romans 6:16
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16). From Romans 6:16 until Romans 6:20, the objection raised in Romans 6:15 is explained. First, the apostle states that slaves are under obligation to obey their masters, whatever or whomever it may be: sin or righteousness. Whether one calls it a universal law or a principle, it is a truth spoken of the Master Himself, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34).
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17). These Roman Christians were the slaves of sin, but no longer. They were once wicked reprobates, but no more, so there is great reason now to give God thanks: they have received a new heart and a new Spirit from God through the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the scriptures (“form of doctrine”), which was preached to them. This is the transforming work of God in justification, by His grace and for His name’s sake:
“Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for Mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went…. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.” —Ezekiel 36:22, 26-27
“Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). The second part of this verse says literally, “You became enslaved to Righteousness.” This is a singular transaction; a transfer of ownership. Jesus gives us a clue to this transaction from the Sermon on the Mount: “No man can serve [can be slave to] two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). We are not merely slaves to “righteousness” as a concept or to good deeds themselves, but rather slaves to Jesus Christ, the LORD our Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16); as it is also written, 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
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Read the previous article in this series, “The Blessed Bondslave” (Romans 6:16-20).