15 What should we conclude then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Do you not know that if you make yourselves available as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that systematic teaching you were entrusted to, 18 and after being set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 (I am using normal language because it is what you understand.) Because in the same way that you once made your body parts available as slaves to impurity and anarchy leading to more anarchy, so now make your body parts available as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 Because when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness. 21 So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of? Because the end result of those things is death. 22 But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end result is eternal life. 23 Because the salary of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
the salary of sin or the salary of God?
Paul continues to address the question as to whether it is appropriate for believers to continue habitually sinning since they have been saved by grace, not obedience. He has already reminded them that when they were baptized, they publically identified with Christ’s death to sin, and then with his resurrection to righteousness. Also, just as they submitted to every part being immersed in the water of baptism, so they should now surrender daily every part to God for righteous living.
Now, Paul takes a slightly different approach. He reminds them that they are slaves to the one they obey. Most of us today are used to thinking of slavery itself as a great sin, so we might miss Paul’s point. Paul was speaking of voluntary indentured servanthood. It is an employment arrangement, where a person agrees to become another person’s servant in exchange for a regular salary and other benefits.
We are already doomed to die because of our ancestor’s sin. We know mortality because of that salary of sin, which must be paid out, and we see tombstones everywhere as reminders of that ongoing transaction.
But Paul tells us of another option. We can live forever by putting our faith in Christ, and living out that faith through surrender to his righteousness. The present benefit of that arrangement is an ongoing process of sanctification. The future benefit (or end result) is the gift of eternal life which the LORD has added to the arrangement by his grace.
So, Paul argues against believers living in continual sin because such lives make it impossible for our commitment to be real.
LORD, make us people committed to one master, consistently drawing upon your power for righteous living as a demonstration of our faith in Christ.