But savor with me Romans 6, which unpackages this for us. Paul writes, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 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, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
Verse 16 clearly says we are all slaves, either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. There are no other options. Absolutely no one is a “neutral” seeker. Verse 17 clarifies for us what this language “slave” means, particularly being a slave of righteousness. Being a slave of sin is contrasted to becoming “obedient from the heart” to God’s word taught through Paul. To be unambiguous, Paul adds in verse 18 that this precisely means “having been set free from sin”. Being set free from sin does not mean we become sinless, but rather we are now free to love Christ, which we could not do before until God sovereignly choose us. This is why the idea of so-called “free will” is so potentially dangerous. It tends to obscure the Biblical concept of freedom and replace it with a Stoic, worldly, philosophical concept.
To be clear, notice who Paul says is responsible for this saving freedom, this radical change of heart—God. In verse 17, Paul says “Thanks be to God…” We don’t thank someone for something unless they actually did it. I don’t thank my one year old for the meal my wife graciously prepared. We can learn much about God’s nature and work by reading those places where God is thanked. This helps us now understand Paul’s rejoicing in Romans 7:25, after discussing the tension every Christian feels between remaining, indwelling sin and our new Spiritually imparted disposition, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
To be continued…. How this should affect our parenting