"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." (Romans 6:17 NK)
The Greek word, hupakuo (obey) means to listen, to attend, and so to submit or obey. Literally, the word means “to hear under.” The imagery is of one sitting at the feet of a master with the intent to follow. The verse implies a choice was made of one master over another.
Consider the two potential paths. One may yield to the motions of either “sin unto death” or of “obedience unto righteousness”. There is no middle course. We are enlisted in one or the other. One is mistaken if he thinks this is a choice to be trifled with! Sin can become a grievous taskmaster. This master comes in various forms- love of money, pride, love of pleasure, or selfish ambitions. The result is degradation of the soul.
The apostle is thankful that his readers have chosen righteousness over sin. They have obeyed a “mold of doctrine” delivered to them. He refers them back to the time of baptism when they buried the sinful man and committed their lives to Jesus. Christ has won their hearts. In this new life true freedom is realized. Every duty, every area of life is patterned after the life of Christ. Every action is guided by the motive of love.
The choice of yielding to righteousness is met with thanksgiving to God. There is no denial that sin brings its pleasure, but the difference between sin and righteousness is as different as night to day. Thank God they chose Jesus! It is the only way that offers hope now and forever.
By George Slover
From Expository Files 21.2; February 2014
See George Slover's book, Moment With The Master Here