January 21 - Romans 6:19-23

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Romans 6:19-23 – Reap Holiness

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. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul has been speaking of slavery and his first sentence in this paragraph is to explain why he did so. Slavery was degrading and might not be considered acceptable as a metaphor for this discussion, but because it was so common and because he needed to make things clear to his readers, he used this situation that everyone recognized. For Paul, slavery, while part of everyday life, it was a symbol of human weakness. And by the way, Paul wasn't pointing to anyone who might be considered morally weak because they owned slaves, or those who were physically weak … he wasn't pointing at anyone at all, he was speaking to everyone. Slavery occurs because humanity is weak. We all must take responsibility for this occurring in the world around us.

Just as slavery to sin led to wickedness for wicked purposes, so does slavery to righteousness lead to holiness. Our lives must imitate Christ and reflect our commitment to God.

Paul reminds us in Romans 6:20, that we can only be enslaved to one master. When we give ourselves over to sin, we cannot be righteous or holy. We belong to sin with everything that we are and all that we have. Righteousness has no power in our lives. We received nothing good from that and the final goal is death.

Freedom from sin means leaving the bindings of slavery behind. Being a slave to God does not mean that we simply transfer the bindings placed on our lives to a new master, it means that we are free … completely free. And the benefit we receive from that freedom is holiness and then eternal life.

Slavery to sin is bondage that leads to death. Slavery to God is eternal life, given to free men. It is a gift.