Word of life

Reflection on Rom 6:22

“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God,
you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”

The condition for being set free from sin is to become slaves of God. Chapter six of the Epistle to the Romans very often uses the term “slave”. On the one hand, there is a reality of slavery to sin. Even if we want to get out of this slavery by our own efforts, we cannot. We can be set free from this kind of slavery neither by our own efforts nor by any other means but only by the power of God, and we receive this power under one condition – that we give ourselves wholly to God. It means that we accept His commandments and are guided by the Spirit of God, and no longer by the spirit of the world, the spirit of lies. This freedom, however, has one basic condition – we must lose our soul for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s (Mk 8:35). If we only become servants rather than slaves, in time of temptation we get into bondage again because we are half-hearted. Sin does not tolerate half-heartedness. It callously holds us in slavery, not only in servitude which makes it possible to leave whenever we like. It holds us in slavery and therefore we must give ourselves wholly to God – that means, surrender our will to the will of God, as we pray daily in the Our Father: “Your will be done.” Generally, God’s will is revealed in the Ten Commandments and the commandments of Jesus given us in the Gospel, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount.

For example, an alcoholic, drug addict or a person who is a slave of moral perversion will sooner or later become enslaved by sin again if he stops halfway and does not break with sin radically with all his will, create the necessary conditions or use the necessary means. It requires resoluteness; one cannot even think about a possibility to sin at least a little. A former alcoholic can only have a drink once after several years of abstinence and he becomes enslaved again. It is the same with drug addiction, immorality or other addictions (computer games, music, the occult, money, career...). So it is not enough that Jesus is our Saviour; He must also be our Lord and King, and then He will be our Redeemer. In the very process of our deliverance, the necessary means is interior prayer where we accept the way of deliverance, the way how Jesus has delivered us, and where we receive the strength to continue on this way of freedom. Jesus is the Way. If we only seek to be free and do not seek Jesus in the first place, again the old man – the root of sin in us – seeks just his own good, treats God as his servant, and eventually exploits it all for the sake of his pride. With such an attitude, however, the old man betrays God in a critical moment, and becomes enslaved again – and finally he blames God for it.

The fruit of deliverance, which is given by Jesus, is holiness, and the end is eternal life.

The preceding verses 20-21 read: “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” If we compare the fruit of slavery to sin, which is shame and eternal death, with the fruit of deliverance by Jesus, which is holiness and eternal life, the difference is incomparable!

Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate