Slavery was a bad deal, especially in America. At best it involved indentured servants who worked off a debt until freedom was bought. But for most, slavery was a life sentence with no freedoms, rights or much of any hope.
Slavery is not a term to be thrown around loosely, it is an all or nothing word. When Paul speaks in Romans 6 about a servant of sin or a servant of righteousness, the Greek word is not the word “servant” but rather the word “slave.” It could be English translators are afraid of the word “slave?”
Whatever the reason for the softening of the word (servants had it much better than slaves), Paul means a slave, one bound with no hope of release, a life-consuming role and obligation with all the trappings of slavery.
We’re fairly comfortable talking about sin that way! It is an evil master, attempting to kill you while granting the false face of pleasure. But righteousness is a slave-master?
Many read Romans 6 as some sort of suggestion, “Well, yeah, we should serve righteousness, but you know, grace and everything, we don’t really have to.”
You can’t really do that with the understanding that Paul is referring to slavery. Guess what happens when slaves decide not to do their work? There are no choices.
Now, I don’t think Christ is an evil slave-master, using us for His bidding by means of whip and chains. But I do believe Paul sees himself as bound to Christ in this sort of relationship where he gives his all to do his master’s will.
That’s what a slave is. Sin is an evil master that does beat us; Christ is a good Master, but will also chasten when needed, but always for our instruction not our destruction. We are His property, we’re bought with a price, we are not debtors to the flesh, but to the One who owns us.
Slavery to Christ, there is no better slavery to be in.