Paul says here that the slaves of sin are free from righteousness.† Sin means wrong and evil behaviour and attitudes; righteousness means right and good behaviour and attitudes.† Paul used the phrase Ďslaves of siní previously in verse 17; there he was describing the former state of the people who had become Christians in Rome.
However, Paulís words seem strange here.† Many people who are not Christians live in a sincere and good manner (2:14-15).† Also, all people everywhere have a duty to do what is right (Acts 17:30; Romans 1:19-20).† There is no proper excuse for evil behaviour; God is the judge of all people.† So we ask: who is free from the duty to do what is right?
To answer our question, we must examine Paulís words more carefully.† Few people choose on purpose to allow sin to rule their lives.† However, most people allow their own desires, emotions and ambitions to direct their lives.† When they do that, they are not accepting Godís rule over their lives.† In reality, they are pleasing themselves, and that is called sin.† It is therefore not righteousness, but sin that is really controlling their lives.† Therefore, Paul describes them as slaves of sin.
Next, we must ask: in what way are they free from the duty to do what is right?† We have seen that, like everyone else, God orders these people to do the right things.† However, that is a duty to God, and these people are not accepting Godís rule over their lives.† Instead, sin rules their lives.† Sin is like a master who never orders his slaves to do anything right.† If we accept the rule of sin over our lives, we cannot follow righteousness.† That is why the Bible urges us so strongly to turn from sin.† True freedom is not freedom from righteousness, but freedom from sin.† In other words, we need to be free in order to do what is right.† It is a terrible thing to desire freedom from the duty to do good and right things.
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© 2017, Keith Simons.