Romans 6:22 states, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants unto God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” To phrase this another way, a Christian is a freed slave. It seems like a contradiction in terms but actually it’s not. Instead, it presents a truth that few, even many who call themselves Christians, seem to grasp. That truth is that freedom comes with responsibility. Being freed from past sins does not mean that we are free to live as we please. The Master who freed us demands obedience and faithful service to His will.
The Greek preposition translated, “from” in Romans 6:22 basically means, “separation.” A more detailed definition is, “of any kind of separation of one thing from another by which the union or fellowship of the two is destroyed.” (J. H. Thayer). When a person obeys the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he or she is separated from past sins. The shackles of those sins are loosed. That individual is now free from those transgressions and they will never again be held to his or her account. That Christian can go before the Lord in the final day with the full assurance that those sins committed prior to immersion into Christ for the forgiveness of sins will not be brought into judgment. Thanks be unto God for His mercy and grace that makes all of this possible. Still, there are some vital truths that need to be carefully considered and yet which are often overlooked.
Freedom from sin does not mean freedom OF sin. Even after we become Christians, we are going to sin. John wrote to Christians, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8). Paul lamented his sinful condition, stating, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19). He labeled himself a “wretched man” (Romans 6:24) and the chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:15). Absolutely nowhere in the Scriptures is it taught that a Christian does not sin. Furthermore, absolutely nowhere in the Scriptures is it taught that a Christian will not be held accountable for his sins if he continues in them. This leads to the next point.
Freedom from sin does not mean freedom TO sin. Paul told the Galatian Christians, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty: only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13). Being free does not mean that we can do whatever we please. God still demands obedience. Earlier in the letter to the Galatians Paul had warned them about falling from grace if they continued in sin (Galatians 5:4). Since it is by grace that we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), if we are fallen from grace, then we are fallen from that which saves. In essence, we are lost. There is no salvation apart from God’s grace. Disobedience causes us to fall from grace. Disobedience, even a Christian’s disobedience, means being lost (II Peter 2:20-22).
Finally, freedom from sin does not mean freedom from the consequences of sin. It was sin that brought death into the world (Genesis 3; I Corinthians 15:21). “It is appointed unto men once to die…” (Hebrews 9:27). We may have been freed from past sins by obeying the Gospel, we may be leading the most holy of lives as Christians, but, still, we are going to die if the Lord does not come first in judgment. Before we die, we are going to be subjected to the trials and temptations of this life. We are going to suffer pain and loss simply because we are human. We live in a world that has been cursed by sin. Rather than being depressed by that fact, we should use it as a catalyst to greater service to God. He has something better beyond this life for His faithful slaves. Jesus said, “In this world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10). Even though we have been freed, we will nonetheless bear the consequences of a sinful world, if not the consequences of our own sins. A Christian who abused himself with drugs prior to obeying the Gospel might continue to suffer physically and mentally from that abuse long after having been freed from that sin by the blood of Christ. The Lord did not promise a pain-free life after we become Christians. What He did promise is that He will be with us to help us bear our burdens if we will walk faithfully with Him (Matthew 11:28-30; I Peter 5:7). Those who have become Christians but have fallen away because they mistakenly thought the Christian life would be trouble-free would do well to consider the points of this paragraph and then repent and come back to the Lord.
Peter wrote that we should walk, “as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (I Peter 2:16). As Christians, we are free, BUT we must faithfully obey the one who set us free if we want to live with Him in eternity.