bound to be righteous

Rom 6:15-23

For Sunday, June 29 (Proper 8)

When we commit our lives to Christ we are not just making a decision about where we would rather spend eternity: we are committing the entirety of ourselves to a code of conduct summed up in the word righteousness. Though we used to be slaves bound to sin now we are bound to something very different. We are bound to be righteous.

At first glance, the question Paul puts to his readers in v. 15 looks like a repeat of the question he framed chapter 6, verse 1. Yet there are some differences which are more apparent in the original Greek with regard to the verbs Paul uses and the tenses he puts those verbs in. The result is that while the first question asks whether we should remain in sin as a lifestyle, the second question asks whether we should continue to accommodate any sin in our lives given the new lifestyle we have chosen.

Paul’s answer to this second question is an emphatic ‘No’. No, don’t accommodate sin in your lives, because you are bound to be righteous. You live by a code: “… The benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (6:22). Following this code of righteousness will lead to holiness, and holiness will then find its proper end in eternal life.

Reading v. 22 in isolation might lead one to think that Paul is teaching a works-based righteousness. But neither the context of this chapter nor the Greek of v. 22 support this. What the NIV translates from the Greek as “… and the result is eternal life” is not the idea that eternal life is the product of holiness, but rather that eternal life is the proper end (Greek TELOS) of holiness. Righteousness, holiness, eternal life – a natural progression for those who are bound to be righteous.

So, given that we are bound to be righteous, what change does the code of Christ require from us today, in the irresistable grace of the gospel of our Lord? May righteousness be unleashed in our souls to the glory of our Father in Heaven.


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