17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Some Bible versions do not use the word slave, instead they use the word servant or bondservant. All are correct translations for the Greek word doulos. It is defined as
Strong’s G1401; a slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency):—bond(-man), servant.
It is interesting the definition says it is literal or figurative as Paul writes immediately after the two verses above the following
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.
Unusual for slaves is the sense of choice, but we choose to be slaves or servants of sin or of righteousness. It is a choice as shown by the words Just as you used to offer yourselves and so now offer yourselves. God is not looking for literal slaves, but instead for those who want to follow Him and His teaching. Or as Paul said you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
Notice Paul explicitly states the obedience was from the heart. If your heart is not in it, then your allegiance is not real or lasting. If your heart is in it, then the allegiance is real and lasting. The heart is necessary to make real and lasting changes as is the allegiance to God. If you try to do it on your own without God what happens? Jesus provides the answer
43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
This is why Paul said when you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity there was an ever-increasing wickedness. We see this in today’s culture with more and more sin seeking or demanding approval for ever-increasing wickedness. Paul encourages those who offer themselves to righteousness as it leads to holiness. There will be changes, some abrupt, some immediate, but others taking time leading to holiness. Many smokers quit immediately totally all at once with never a desire for another cigarette, but for many others it is a process of cutting down and even after quitting the temptation and desire remain for a time. So it is with many changes in our lives leading to holiness.
So what have you chosen with your heart? A life of sin and ever-increasing wickedness or the way of righteousness leading to holiness – a life with ever decreasing sin. The choice results in starkly different outcomes
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 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. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s Friday and I hope you have a Great Weekend and also hope you remember to Go To Church. There, with your heart, you may join others in the fellowship of praise and worship along with corporate and personal prayer. Then there is the message or sermon being taught from the Word of God that may be meant for you, to illuminate something in your life or to add a deeper understanding you have been thinking on.