“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).
True freedom comes from being a servant of Jesus Christ.
I once knew a man who, though intellectually convinced that the gospel was true, balked at committing his life to Jesus Christ. When I asked him why, he replied, “Because I don’t want to give up my freedom.” He understood clearly that genuine saving faith requires submission to Christ’s lordship. But he was tragically deceived in thinking that non-Christians are free—they aren’t. Unbelievers are slaves to sin (John 8:34). Only Christians have true freedom (John 8:31-32)—the freedom not to sin.
Paul reminded the Roman Christians that before they were saved, they ”were slaves of sin.” The apostle’s use of the imperfect tense indicates that the Romans, like all unbelievers, had been in a continual state of slavery to sin. Every human ever born—since Adam and Eve plunged the human race into sin—has been born enslaved to sin—except of course, for Christ.
When a person comes to faith in Christ, he or she becomes “obedient from the heart” to the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian’s initial act of obedience, repenting and believing the gospel message (Mark 1:15), is the first step in a lifelong path of obedience. In the words of the apostle Peter, Christians are those who “have in obedience to the truth purified [their] souls” (1 Peter 1:22).
Paradoxically, it’s only those who have made themselves servants of Jesus Christ who are truly free. They alone are free to do what is right; even unbelievers’ “good deeds” are sinful, since they aren’t done to glorify God. Christian liberty is not the freedom to choose to sin, but the freedom to choose not to.
Renew today your commitment to be an obedient servant of God, knowing that “you are not your own. For you have been bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Suggestions for Prayer
- Praise God for freeing you from slavery to sin.
- Ask Him to show you those areas in your life that you have not yielded fully to Him.
For Further Study
- Memorize Matthew 5:6; 1 Timothy 6:10-12; and Hebrews 12:14.
- Ask God to help you pattern your life after Jesus Christ.
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.