For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.Romans 6:20(NASB)
In His final message to the disciples, the Lord Jesus explained that knowledge of the truth was man's greatest freedom, in a world that is enslaved by sin, oppressed by Satan, condemned to death, and bound for hell. And here in this verse we find that Paul is expressing the same truth, in a way that appears to be somewhat incongruous on the surface, for we read, "when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness."
Being free from goodness or being 'free in regard to righteousness', may appear on the surface to be a strange way of describing the sorry state of fallen man... who is ensnared by Satan and enslaved to sin. But the man who is a slave to every type of sin, can also be described as the man who is free from everything that is good.
Because of his enslavement to sin, a sinner is estranged from God. A slave to sin has no connection with all that is good and righteous. Because he is entrapped in evil, he is totally free from all that is holy and good, righteous and true. Because unsaved man is enslaved to sin and Satan, death and hell... he is freed from any association with goodness and grace, life and hope. What a shocking state to be in. How terrible to be so enmeshed in all that is evil, that one is exempt from grace and has no fellowship with all that is good.
Paul has been explaining to his readers, that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God, and that ungodly men are slaves of sin, and ensnared by their fallen, sin nature. Paul is describing the very condition of these Roman believers, before they were saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Corinthian Christians were similarly warned, "do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God..?" and here in Romans we read that before salvation, these believers were also "slaves to sin," and dominated by Satan, which excluded them from all that is righteous and true - for they were also "freed from righteousness!"
Paul points out that people who are bound by sin and enslaved by Satan, only know one sort of freedom - they are freed from all that is good!! They are delivered from all that is righteousness. They are released from everything that is true - and unencumbered from all that is holy.
It is terrible to be a bond-servant of sin, for such a condition is hopeless, and renders the man or woman to be given-over to iniquity... and freed from any form of righteousness. Freedom from righteousness is futile and fruitless, but it is the eternal state in which the unsaved sinner will find himself, through time and into eternity, unless he turns from his sin to Christ, and trusts in His redeeming work on the Cross - for the forgiveness of his sins and life everlasting.
Heavenly Father, thank You that while I was still a sinner and entrapped in the dark kingdom of Satan, Jesus died for me, and that by grace through faith in Him, I have been removed from sin's terrible enslavement, saved from Satan's dark kingdom, and brought into the kingdom of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, my God and Saviour. Thank You that He not only died to pay the price of my sin, but that He died to break the power of sin in my life - and how I thank You that His grace is sufficient for every eventuality in life that I may have to face. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.