But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18)
Paul was thankful that the Christians in Rome had chosen to serve the Lord rather than continue after their old master of sin.
What is the “form of doctrine?”
The original word tupos [form], among other things, signifies a mold into which melted metals are poured to receive the form of the mold. The apostle represents the gospel doctrine as a mold, into which the Romans were put by their baptism, in order to their being fashioned anew. And he thanks God that from the heart - that is, most willingly and sincerely - they yielded to the forming efficacy of that mold of doctrine, and were made new men, both in principle and practice. - James Macknight quoting by Whiteside, Commentary on Romans, 139-140
Earlier in Romans 6, Paul had discussed how the Christians in Rome had been baptized into the death of Christ Jesus (Romans 6:3).
He described how the old man of sin was put to death when one is immersed into Christ in baptism, and then the person is raised up to walk in newness of life. They are freed from sin (Romans 6:4-7).
The “form of doctrine” Paul is referring to is imitating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ by being immersed into Him. This cannot be separated from the gospel - the “good news” - of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Delivered over to the form of doctrine.
They had been delivered over to the “form of doctrine” that they had obeyed from the heart.
The point Paul made was not that a form of doctrine was delivered to them; but rather, they were delivered over to it. - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 217
They had delivered themselves to it - the “form of doctrine” wasn’t just something they knew. It was something they had given themselves over to completely “from the heart.”
They did this “from the heart,” denoting an inward disposition, as opposed to some external code such as the Law (Jeremiah 31:31-34). - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 218
They had surrendered themselves to what they obeyed. They didn’t try to hold on to their old life - they gave themselves up completely.
From the heart, they lived out what their baptism into Christ meant: that Christ had freed them from their sin to live a new life of righteousness to God.
The paradox of true freedom.
In Stoic teaching, freedom was gained by man’s control over external realities due to the conscious and deliberate control over his own person. The New Testament, however, shows another way to freedom; but it is not by what one can do to control external forces. Rather, it is by the surrender of one’s own will and power to an external force, to God…The paradox is that the person who is truly free is the one who has become a slave to God. - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 218
True freedom is not found in living however we please. True freedom is found in devoting oneself to the service of God and living for Him.
In becoming a “slave of righteousness” rather than a “slave to sin,” the Roman Christians had found true freedom.
They had truly been set free.
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Does the way you live your life demonstrate that your baptism means anything to you?
A Christian who continues to live in sin lives in a manner that is wholly incompatible with the gospel of Christ. They live in such a way that communicates that their immersion into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ means nothing to them.
Does your baptism mean anything to you?
I followed in the footsteps of Jesus who was also baptized.