What does Romans 6:16-18 really mean?

Romans 6:16-18 is about the idea that humans are slaves either to sin, which leads to death, or obedience, leading to righteousness through faith in God’s grace and not being under the law anymore, ultimately leading to freedom in Christ.

16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.


Setting the Scene for Romans 6:16-18

The scene in Romans 6:16-18 takes place in a small, dimly lit room in the city of Rome. The room is filled with a diverse group of individuals who have gathered for a bible study class. Among them are Marcus, a Roman soldier who recently converted to Christianity after hearing the teachings of Paul, and Lydia, a wealthy merchant who opened her home for the group to meet.

As the flickering candlelight casts shadows on the walls, Paul, the renowned apostle, stands at the front of the room, passionately teaching about the importance of living a life of righteousness and obedience to God. His words are met with rapt attention from the group, who hang on his every word, eager to learn more about their newfound faith.

The atmosphere in the room is one of reverence and humility, as each person reflects on their own journey of faith and the sacrifices they have made to follow Christ. The message of freedom from sin and slavery to righteousness resonates deeply with everyone present, inspiring them to recommit themselves to a life dedicated to serving God wholeheartedly.

What is Romans 6:16-18 about?

This verse is a powerful reminder of the constant battle between our sinful nature and our desire to live a righteous life. It challenges us to be proactive in our faith journey by actively offering ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. We acknowledge God’s authority over our lives and choose to align our thoughts, words, and actions with His will.

When we allow sin to control us, we are essentially giving in to our selfish desires and straying away from God’s plan for us. However, by offering ourselves to God, we are making a conscious decision to surrender our will and follow His guidance. This verse highlights the importance of actively choosing righteousness over sin and the transformative power of living a life devoted to God.

Reflect on your own life and consider areas where you may be letting sin control you. Are there habits, attitudes, or behaviors that are distancing you from God? How can you shift your focus and offer yourself to God as an instrument of righteousness? The journey towards righteousness requires intentionality and surrender to God’s grace on a daily basis.

Understanding what Romans 6:16-18 really means

In Romans 6:16-18, the apostle Paul delves into the profound concept of spiritual slavery and freedom. He highlights the pivotal truth that we are all servants to something or someone, whether it be sin leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness. This echoes Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:24, emphasizing that no one can serve two masters, underscoring the exclusive nature of our allegiance.

Living a life dominated by sin inevitably leads to death, as James 1:15 elucidates, illustrating how sin, when fully grown, gives birth to death. Conversely, obedience to God leads to righteousness, as seen in 1 Peter 1:14-15, where believers are called to be obedient children and to conduct themselves in holiness. The transformative power of obedience is evident in the gratitude expressed towards God for the heart-level shift from slavery to sin to servanthood to righteousness, as highlighted in Ephesians 2:1-5.

The freedom found in serving God is the epitome of true liberation, as John 8:36 affirms, stating that those set free by the Son are genuinely free. This dichotomy between slavery to sin and slavery to righteousness remains relevant in modern life, where individuals grapple with various forms of bondage such as addiction, materialism, and other contemporary “slaveries.” Galatians 5:1 reminds believers that Christ has set them free for the purpose of living in freedom and not being ensnared again by the chains of slavery.

Consider the story of someone who battled a particular sin or addiction, finding deliverance through faith and obedience to God. Witnessing their transformation and newfound sense of purpose and righteousness serves as a poignant reminder of the power of God to break chains and bring about lasting change in individuals’ lives. Reflecting on this narrative prompts introspection regarding what we might be enslaved to in our own lives and encourages us to pursue the freedom that obedience to God offers.

In conclusion, the passage in Romans 6:16-18 underscores the fundamental choice between serving sin and serving righteousness. It urges us to examine our allegiances and commit to a life of obedience to God, which leads to true freedom and righteousness. Let us take a moment to reflect on our own “masters” and recommit ourselves to living in the freedom that comes from serving the one true God.

How can we choose to serve righteousness?

We can choose to serve righteousness by obeying God wholeheartedly and allowing Him to be the ultimate authority in our lives. This involves surrendering our own desires and submitting to God’s will, knowing that He has our best interests at heart. We actively choose to serve righteousness by following His commands and living in alignment with His word.

Additionally, we can choose to serve righteousness by being mindful of the choices we make on a daily basis. This means actively seeking to do what is right and honorable in the sight of God, even when faced with temptations or challenges. We demonstrate our commitment to serving righteousness in all aspects of our lives by consciously aligning our actions with God’s principles. Choosing to serve righteousness ultimately requires continuous effort and dedication. It involves cultivating a relationship with God, seeking His guidance, and allowing His word to shape our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. By intentionally choosing to serve righteousness, we honor God and experience the blessings and fulfillment that come from living a life of obedience and faithfulness.


Just like choosing the path we take at work or the time we spend with family, every decision shapes our journey with God. Let’s be intentional in our choices, leaning towards what is just and good. It’s time to pledge our actions to God, letting our faith guide our every step. Will you take the leap today and dedicate yourself to serving the Almighty, walking in His light with unwavering commitment?