Who or what are you a servant of?  In our key verse for today’s message, we will see Paul ask a very important question to the Roman believers.  Paul asks, Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey?”  In other words, whom you obey has rule over you – they are your master.  Now, nobody likes to hear that something or someone is their master.

16 Do 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?


Slavery is a very sore subject that most folks tend to not like to discuss.  Why is that the case?  Because the very thought of slavery brings up a rather harsh history.  For many folks in this country, they don’t like to recall the history of slavery because it shines such a bad light on people they may be connected to and quite frankly, they feel a great amount of shame and embarrassment of that history.

The same held true during the days that Paul when he wrote about the subject of slavery or being a bondservant in his letter to the Romans.  Slavery was a very significant thing in the Roman society though it was not necessarily based on race, as it was here in America.  All the same, slavery in Rome was just as abusive and degrading.  Some of us look back on the slavery to people that we are connected to as being abusive and very degrading.

Paul explains why he chose to speak of slavery in this letter by saying, “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh (Rom. 6:19).”  So, he spoke on this subject so that we can clearly understand the slavery still present in our world today.  Nobody wants to be a slave.  No, every man, woman, boy, and girl would rather live free.

Yet, whether you believe it or not, every person in this world is a servant to something or someone.  At the same time, every person in this world is free from something or someone.  Now, I and Paul, I want you to understand, are speaking on this subject spiritually.  So, the question we must answer is:  whom do you serve?  Who are you free from?

History of the Soul’s Servitude

Now, those questions can be quite confusing at first glance, but I promise you that by the end of this message, those questions will not be as confusing.  So, the first thing I want to look at today is the history of our soul so that you can better understand my statement that every person in the world is a servant to something or someone.

Enslaved to sin

When we look at the history of our soul, we will first call to our remembrance that the soul came from God.  Scripture plainly tells us that the Lord breathed into mankind’s nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7).  This breath, I want you to understand, is the soul that flows inside of all of us.

Along the timeline of the history of our soul, we could say that there was a glow to it in the garden.  However, that glow was short-lived as mankind would fall in the garden to sin.  So, when you and I were born into this world, we were born into a world that was polluted and covered in sin – anything that stands in opposition against the Lord.

We grew up learning the way of the world.  All of us learned right from wrong, and in learning this, we learned to try to cover up and hide our wrongs – meaning we learned how to lie.  We learned how to live by our lusts and our passions, and in doing this, we became obedient to our lusts and to our passions.

So, when our lusts and passions told us to move one way, we moved.  When our lusts and our passions told us to move another way, we moved.  In other words, what I want you to understand is that our lusts and our passions had (or has) rule over us!  This is to say that anybody who is obedient to their own lusts and passions, is a servant to their lusts and passions.  Let us remember that our lusts and passions, selfish ambitions, are a work of sin.  So, this is to say that when we are being obedient to our selfish ambitions, we are being a servant to sin.

Savior sent for the soul

So, along this timeline of our soul, when the soul was lost in the bondage of sin, God did not desire for the soul to dwell in sin or be lost completely to sin.  Now, we have seen in scripture how the Lord has dealt with bondage in the past.  When the children of Israel were in the bondage of the Egyptians, God heard their cries and sent Moses to Pharaoh to tell him that God said to let His people go (Ex. 5:1).

As God had sent Moses into Egypt to free the children of Israel from their bondage, God gave to the world His only begotten Son to free the world from the bondage of sin.  Jesus came and said to all of those souls trapped in the bondage of sin, that they could be free from their bondage if they follow Him (John 8:32).

As Paul stated, “Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over [Christ].  For the death that Christ died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God (Rom. 6:9-10).”  So, Jesus not only preached freedom, but also He gave His life so that we could be free from sin’s bondage.

So, at this point in the soul’s timeline, history meets the present.  You see, every soul has been given a choice:  freedom or bondage?  Will you follow Jesus to freedom or will you choose to stay a slave to sin?  Joshua discussed this very same thought to the children of Israel at the end of his life.  Joshua gathered the children of Israel together and spoke to them about how their forefathers served idols and he asked them who they would serve – idols or God?  Joshua, very plainly to them, said that he and his house would serve the Lord (Josh. 24:1-2, 15).

The Servant of Sin

So, the choice has been given to all of us –  Will you continue to live in the bondage of sin when there is another option?

Again, there are many people living in this world blissfully not realizing that they are indeed a servant to something or someone.  Some will say that they have liberty and are living freely to do whatever they desire.  Yet, the truth of the matter is that freedom comes with having to abide by someone’s rules.  For example, here in America, we like to say that we are free, but the truth of the matter is that we are free to abide by state and federal law.  When we break those laws, punishment comes, right?

In Romans 6, we see Paul make the case for why we should rather live by the rule of grace rather than by the rule of sin.  Where some will choose to live with sin as their master, we are encouraged to live with Christ being our master.  The one that desires for Christ to be their master, cannot also be a servant to sin.  

As Jesus stated, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24).”  Let us take a look at the rule of sin as our master, so that we can understand why it is better for us to not be in the bondage of sin.

A servant of sin’s shame

As a servant of sin, Paul stated that one would be free from righteousness.  Again, because slavery was so significant in Paul’s day, we should understand that the mere idea of freedom was seen as a great prize during those days just as it is seen today.  However, what kind of prize could come from one choosing to be free from righteousness?  This is to ask what kind of prize could come from choosing to be free from God?

There are many people who have a grand desire to be free from the Lord.  The reason behind this desire is because they view being a believer, or a servant of God, as religion.  However, just as Paul said, and as you have heard me say before, genuinely believing in the Lord is not a walk of religion but a walk of faith (2 Cor. 5:7).

So, Paul was speaking directly to the believers who were in Rome in this letter.  He was speaking to them of their past when we see him state, “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness (Rom. 6:20).”  However, look at this question that Paul next asked these believers.  Paul asked, “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed (Rom. 6:21)?”

Now, this is a very interesting question and it is one that those who choose to be a servant of their lusts and passions (sin) should answer today.  What fruit are you bearing from living as a servant to sin?

These believers in Rome considered Paul’s question and they looked back on their past to consider the fruit that they bore while living as a servant of sin.  After giving it consideration, Paul insinuates in that same verse that these believers were left with great shame and embarrassment.  I believe that all of us as genuine believers have this same shame and embarrassment when we think back on our days as a sinner, and even today, we feel this same shame and embarrassment when we sin.  The reason why is because we know that no good fruit comes from sin.

Profit of the servant of sin

Now, many servants of sin don’t feel this type of shame while they are living in sin.  I believe this to be the case because the sinner’s eyes are blinded to their sin.  This was true in the days of the children of Israel when they were given the law by Moses.  Of those that lived during that day, Paul wrote that their minds were blinded.  He continued and said to the Corinthians, “For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.  But even to this day, when Moses (the law) is read, a veil lies on their heart (2 Cor. 3:14-15).”

In order to have this veil lifted, one must turn to Christ and Christ will lift the veil!  When this veil is lifted from our eyes, we are no longer blind to our sins because we have the truth.  The sinner believes that they have profited from their sin and have gathered up gold, whereas the truth of the matter is that they have only gathered what will one day rust and tarnish.

Jeremiah likened a servant of sin to one who has sown wheat but reaped thorns (Jer. 12:13).  To the servant of sin, Paul wrote, “For when we were in the flesh (a servant of sin), the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death (Rom. 7:5).”  So, again, what kind of reward is there in being a servant of sin?  What kind of reward is there in being free from God and obeying the law of sin?

As Paul said to the Romans, the servant of sin is a servant to uncleanness and lawlessness which leads to more lawlessness (Rom. 6:19).  So, there is no reward, spiritually, to living in the bondage of sin!  Personally, I don’t believe there to be any reward in the world when living in the bondage of sin; nothing but heartache and pain is all you will be left with.  This is a very sad and tragic reality that many unfortunately do not recognize.

A Servant of God’s Freedom

Fortunately for all of us, God desired to make it possible for mankind to live in freedom from sin so that we are not living a pointless and unfruitful life being a servant of sin.  This is why the Lord gave the world His only begotten Son:  so that we can be fruitful (profitable) in the world and also gain (or reap) the reward of His heavenly kingdom.

Delivered by God to be fruitful

Jesus once stated to those who were servants of sin and to those who desired to be free from sin, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:34-35).”

Someone at this point may ask, “free to what?”  The one who has been set free from sin is no longer under the rule of sin – sin is no longer their master.  I want you to understand that this person is not free to live for themselves as this would simply be living to sin.  No, the one that has been set free by Christ, is now free to live for Christ.  The one that has been set free by Christ is now free to live under the Lord’s authority and become servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:18).

So, to be clear, the one that has been set free by Christ has a new master and our master is now Christ (God).  Remember what I said earlier about freedom, freedom comes with the price of abiding by rules (or law).  So, yes, you may be free from sin, but the servant of righteousness is to be obedient to the Lord and His way.  

The question will be asked, and has already been asked and answered, “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace (Rom. 6:15)?”  “Certainly not!” Paul responded.  No, we are to be obedient to that form of doctrine – God’s way (His gospel) to which we were delivered (Rom. 6:17).”

Being obedient to the Lord and His doctrine, leads to one bearing much fruit.  As we have seen in recent lessons and sermons, when we abide in the Lord, God provides for us so that we can bear much fruit (John 15:7-8).  Of this fruit, Paul said to the Romans, “having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life (Rom. 6:22).”

Boasting in the Lord

Where we may look back on our life with great shame when we were once a servant of sin, we don’t look on our life as a servant of God with that same shame.  I tell you today that I am happy and proud to be free from sin and a servant of God, and all of you who are free from sin should feel the same exact way!

The Lord should be your boast if you have been set free by God (2 Cor. 10:17).  In the book of Jeremiah, we will see that the Lord said, “Let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these I delight (Jer. 9:24).”

Though sinners do not yet realize this, living under the law of sin is harsh and comes with no prizeWhen sin is your master, you do not have the love of God to always keep you lifted up in your soul.  Sin is a very tough master that does nothing but weigh you down with stress and burdens.  Whereas, God as your master is a loving, forgiving, and redeeming master – His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30).  I would much rather live under a master that desires to take my burdens and afflictions away, as opposed to one who will just lay them on me daily.

So, I must ask this question again, would you rather live free under the master of sin, or would you rather live free with God being your master?  I’d much rather be a servant of the liberty that leads to an everlasting life of peace, happiness, and joy as opposed to the liberty that leads to my spiritual suffering and death.  So, who do you serve?  My hope is that you would rather live under the law of God and His grace, rather than live under sin’s authority with no reward.

Thought: A Servant Of: Who Do You Serve?

By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – February 13, 2022
Responsive Reading – Romans 6:7-22
Key Verse – Romans 6:16

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