"But 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. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” - Romans 6:17-18 (NKJ)
Before we surrendered our lives to Jesus, we were slaves to the sin nature that we were born with. This sin nature is very deceitful in the sense that we would imagine that we were pleasing to God because we were good people in some cases. In other cases it led us to do things that we knew were wrong but we imagined that what is wrong was actually good for us.
“yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.”
Something happened in our hearts when we realized that we were bound in sin and prone to sin more and more with no power to stop ourselves. Our hearts were broken and we turned to God for help. This brokenness is the humility required by God before he will intervene. Then he brought us to the knowledge of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and we believed in him.
“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” - Psalm 34:18 (KJV)
By trusting in Jesus, we are set free from the sin nature that still lives in our bodies. Free in the sense that it no longer has the power over us to make us do what it is screaming out for us to do. Now we have a choice to say no but the power to say no is only maintained by remaining in that dependant frame of mind, i.e. we need to remember our constant need of Jesus and fix our eyes on him as we did when we first trusted in him. This “form of doctrine” empowers us to do God’s will.
“you became slaves of righteousness”
“Slaves” in this part of the verse refers to a bondservant, i.e. you are willingly surrendering your will to another for the rest of your life. The one you are surrendering to is Jesus and he is our “righteousness.” With our eyes of our heart fixed on him, we will do righteousness. The order of this statement is important. We don’t do righteousness because we believe in Jesus, which is a form of works for salvation and produces something for you to boast about. On the contrary, with our heart so focused on Jesus, righteous acts are the natural result.
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end”; - Hebrews 3:14 (KJV)
God bless, Orval