I’m not entirely sure that the transformation from a life of sin to a life of righteousness is as smooth and succinct as the sentence above, but the slavery metaphor does work. And if you’ve ever given yourself over to either- sin or righteousness - then you know that feeling of captivity.
We’re all captive to something - it’s the human lot. Be it out of choice or no fault of our own, we all find ourselves subject to something. The Bible talks about this in different ways: flesh and spirit, God and money, good and evil, etc. To find ourselves on side of righteousness, we have to make very conscious, unselfish decisions according to God’s Word.
The passage above describes this transformation as a process - “[you] have become slaves of righteousness.” And thanks be to God for the grace we receive in that process phase (that really never ends). We all need grace, but what a journey it is on the road to becoming subject to living right before God when we are bombarded with options to give our lives to so many other things.
But first, what does it mean to be set free from sin? Because that’s the prerequisite to the righteousness part, or at least they go hand-in-hand. Either way, we have to be released from the bondage of sin, which for the purpose of this article, is all the stuff that God explicitly tells us shouldn’t be part of how we behave.
To be set free from sin looks like believing God is good and that doing what he wants (and not doing what he doesn’t want) matters not only for our own well-being, but for our family, neighbors, and world. It takes a hunger to learn what those things are through a consistent and focused study of his Word. And then it takes the discipline and will power to be not only hearers (readers, students) of the Word, but also doers.
An awareness of the destructive effects of sin on self, family, and society can certainly motivate us towards living right. But the not-to-do list isn’t altogether sufficient. We need the alternative. We need to proactively find the ways that God wants to use us as we try to live right before him.
I know for myself, this has come through simply making myself available in ways I know I can be of assistance and watching opportunities build off of those moments. Part of being a slave to righteousness is that you don’t always get to choose to be in comfortable circumstances to serve. But those harder, more challenging circumstances is where God needs his people.
So take stock of who you are in contact with daily, what places you visit daily, what needs you see that exist around you daily. Allow yourself to keep becoming a slave to righteousness and the freedom it brings as you experience all of the good and health that God has for us. Without question, it’s a moment by moment choice, but one that if we as the people of faith choose to do together, can bring a lot of healing and good into our world.