Meditation Commentary on Romans 6:16-19
16Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
This passage speaks of the life we once led as unbelievers. It also serves as a guide to the Christian life, in that it points out some characteristics that should be found in someone after the time of conversion.
Verse 17 brings to light the fact that unbelievers, who are separated from God, can hear the gospel message and be enlightened to the truth. It could be easy for one to think that a “slave to sin” could be so separated from God, that, perhaps they could not hear the truth. According to this verse, we see that God is in the life-saving business and desires manifest Himself to everyone. It is, however, the hearer’s choice as to whether or not he or she will heed the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
No longer are we without hope, bound by sin in our lives. Verse 18 assures us that we should become slaves of righteousness! As the Merriam-Webster puts it, a slave is “a person held in servitude as property.” Romans 8:2 offers some more insight on this: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
In verse 19, Paul says that he speaks “in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.” This makes me curious as to what terms he would have spoken if we were not weak in flesh. What would it have been like if God had used Paul to communicate this message in spiritual terms? I know that Paul was speaking in spiritual terms, due to the fact that he was inspired of the Holy Spirit. The wording in this verse, however, makes me curious. The end of this verse goes on to challenge us to use our members in a pure and righteous way. This is not only a suggestion, but is a command in that it says again to make our members “slaves.” The use of this word throughout this passage adds such a level of intensity to the subject.