What Does Romans 6:16 Mean?

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?

Romans 6:16(ESV)

Verse of the Day

God spoke the world into existence by the power of His might. By the Word of His mouth, He declared His unchanging and unchangeable laws into being and so often in Scripture, we see God's immutable principles laid out so simply, and yet too often we are unable or unwilling to apply His instruction in our own lives.

One principle we must understand and accept is detailed in verse 16 of Roman chapter 6: "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?"

As members of the human race, we have the free will to choose from two established paths that God purposed into being in the beginning. We can choose to be a slave of sin OR we can make the choice to be a slave of obedience - there are no other options - there is no middle ground. We cannot straddle the fence between sin and righteousness, nor can we construct an alternative course of action that is outside of God's established laws.

We either walk with God which results in light, life, and righteousness, or we walk with Satan which results in darkness and death. We either choose the good or we opt for the evil. We cannot serve God and mammon. The principles that God laid out, in the beginning, are absolute. We are either for Him or against Him. We are either the slave of Satan and sin OR we are the servant of Christ and righteousness.

In this verse, Paul contrasts God's principles of servitude and slavery which results if we follow the lust of the flesh and engage in sinful pride and unrighteousness with the liberty and freedom that we can have if we choose to serve Christ Jesus - which enables us to live godly lives by rejecting the former and applying the latter.

Before being born from above and baptised into Christ by the Holy Spirit, we were automatically dead in their trespasses, slaves to sin, and in servitude to Satan. We were born with a sin nature. We were conceived in sin; we came into the world enslaved by sin; we were estranged from God and we were without hope in the world. 

But since trusting Christ as Saviour, we are united to Him and positioned in Him. As part of the family of God, we have been placed under a new system of government. We have moved from the kingdom of darkness and automatic enslavement to sin, into the glorious kingdom of light. We have exchanged our slavery to sin to becoming servants of righteousness. Our union with Christ and our position in Him has freed us from the enslaving power that sin had over us, before we were saved. And so in this passage, we are reminded to make wise choices in our Christian life.

The unsaved man is excluded from the kingdom of God's Son and can only yield to sin and death, but the believer has a choice. He can choose to become entangled again in the law of sin and death, through carnality, legalism, rebellion, and sin, OR he can submit himself to the leading of the Spirit and become a servant of obedience, which leads to righteousness. 

What a vital truth for all believers to recognise and apply to our own lives. How wonderful to realise that we have been taken out of the old creation and placed into the new; we have been removed from being in Adam to being in Christ; we have exchanged servitude to Satan, sin, and death to yielding to the Spirit as a servant of righteousness and life, which produces a liberty of mind and freedom of soul that stands in stark contrast to sin's state of slavery.

Let us glorify God with our bodies and submit our lives to the leading of the Spirit, for we have been delivered from the dominion of evil as willing slaves to sin have been reunited with our precious Saviour, by grace through faith. Let us from this day forward be willing servants of Christ's righteousness so that we may grow in grace and increasingly gain greater knowledge of our Lord and Saviour - Jesus Christ.

My Prayer

Father, I willingly submit my life to You and pray that from this day forward I live as a servant of righteousness that is pleasing to You. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

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