I grew up in a Christian home, learning to read my Bible from the age of nine, and listening to numerous sermons before I could understand them. I had a real problem with events in the Garden of Eden. I found it incomprehensible that Yahweh, Who knows exactly what we’re all like, put that fateful tree in the garden in the first place. “Why did He do that? It would have saved a lot of trouble if it hadn’t been there!” I worried and wondered. “…sin entered the world through one man” [Romans 5:12] I read, learning [with disgust] that this was because of disobedience! It was years before I understood that Yahweh wants us to choose to obey Him, and just how much that choice will promote our relationship with Him.
If I were to ask you what the opposite of sin is, I wonder how you would respond. I tried it on some friends: righteousness, morality, virtue, goodness, were some of the responses. Paul wrote something amazing about this. “Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves,” he said, “you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” [Romans 6:16] Here the alternative to ‘slaves to sin’ is ‘slaves to obedience’, and it is the obedience that leads to righteousness.
I shouldn’t have been startled to realise that obedience is the opposite of sin – but I was! If Adam and Eve had been obedient in the Garden, there would have been no sin. Do you struggle with the thought of being righteous? Do you feel you fail to come up to some standard that you have in your mind? Obedience leads to righteousness; we do the obeying and the righteousness happens! So much so, that Paul goes on to say that, through obedience, “…you became enslaved to righteousness” [v18].
Sin leads to death, but obedience doesn’t lead to life - that is the free gift of Yahweh through Yahshua’s sacrifice. However, the righteousness that is gained through obedience leads to holiness [v19], without which it is impossible to see Yahweh [Hebrews 12:14].