Jesus Creed

I’m struck once again by Paul’s comment in Romans 6:18: “You have been set from sin and have become slaves to righteousness [justice].” We naturally think of New World Slavery when we think of the word “slave,” but in Paul’s world slavery was not of that sort (very often). Instead, Paul is using a word from the ordinary world of employment, and he’s thinking about what and to whom they have permitted themselves to be employed.
For Paul, the baptized “in Christ” person is in the employ of righteousness, or justice. As Tom Wright clarifies in his Romans commentary, this term is not simply “moral goodness” but a capsule statement of who God is and all God is doing in this world: those in the employ of this are in the employ of the kingdom. It is both personal virtue and social condition, better yet, both individual and corporate justice. It is working for the world being put to rights — with God, with self, with others, and with the world.
Those who do this will become saints, or as Paul puts it “for sanctification” (6:19). That is, these folks are “God-oriented all through.”

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