For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul is making a joke, or maybe a bad dad pun with slavery and freedom. When you were a slave of sin, you were actually very free…from righteousness. You were free, disconnected, and loose from God’s goodness and alright-ness. Just like I’m free from Tesla ownership or unencumbered by the curse of affluence.
But when you were carefree about being right with God, and hopelessly lost, what fruit came from that life? This sounds kind of smart-alecky. My Dad used to ask guys that would come to AA meetings, “How are things going since you’ve been trying to sit in God’s chair?”
But if we ask others and even ourselves that question with humility, it can lead us to spiritual growth. What fruit were you getting from the things that you are now ashamed of? Whenever we are tempted to do evil, we can ask that question. What fruit is going to come from me doing this? If the answer is none, then why would we do it?
If we ask others in a sincere and humble way, we might help them to see that living for Jesus is the better way.
The wages of sin, the fruit that we get from the way we live, the outcome of our actions, are all things that we have to accept and bear. The greatness of the grace of God is that He intervenes and forgives our sins. Our sins no no longer have an eternal impact on our souls, but God saves us instead. Even earthly consequences that we bring about: injury, hardship, etc. all have the promise that God is with us as we persevere under the weight.
I have talked to murderers and hugged men dying of AIDS, and every one of them has regretted the things they did. They didn’t need me to tell them that their deeds were evil because they were still carrying the fruit that grew from their acts of shame. Watching them hand that fruit over to God and walk without the weight anymore is one of the best experiences in the world.
Now we bear fruit that leads to sanctification and eternal life. All of this happens in one moment of salvation and a million moments every single day.