Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death…
I. THE CRITERION OF BOTH — obedience. A disobedient servant is a contradiction in terms. Disobedience vitiates service and ensures formal dismissal from it. By obedience to the behests of sin sinners are to be distinguished. Sin's code is the ten commandments with the "nots" omitted; and the world swarms with men and women who yield the most constant and earnest obedience to each. From these the servants of righteousness are distinguished not by their profession, garb, postures, ritual, and shibboleth of righteousness, but by their obedience to the commands of righteousness. Many will present themselves before the Great Tribunal on other grounds, but the King of Righteousness will judge them exclusively by this criterion. "Not everyone that said unto the Lord, Lord," etc.
II. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TWO SERVICES.
1. The service of sin is —
(1) Wrong. A usurper is served in a way which wrongs the lawful master and the rightful law; and inasmuch as men were made for righteousness they wrong themselves.
(2) Fruitless (ver. 21). Sin's service is disappointing, and sinners are deluded in it. Apart from what it ends in, "the way of transgressors, is hard."(3) Ruinous — "sin unto death" (see also ver. 23).
2. The service of righteousness is(1) As the name implies, right. That should settle the matter. Only when a man yields to it does he put himself right with God, the law, his own conscience, the universe.
(2) Fruitful. Its "ways are ways of pleasantness," etc. Even in this life it is worth all it costs. Righteousness is a good master and pays as it goes along.
(3) Eternally profitable — life is the guerdon of righteousness.
III. THE CHANGE FROM ONE SERVICE TO THE OTHER.
1. All men are servants. Man was not made, and will never become independent. Servitude is the law of his nature, and of the two masters he must serve one.
2. All men have been the servants of sin. They are born in it and continue in it; some all their lives, others up to a certain point.
3. All men may become servants of righteousness.
(1) By a definite act of self-devotion.
(2) By a precious act of Divine acceptance.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?