I was once a slave to sin. I couldn't help but answer its every beck and call. Porn, pre-marital sex, drugs, and theft mastered me. Romans 6:20 says that "when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (ESV). What that means is that it was easy to avoid righteousness and obedience to God. I was free from the conviction of my evil crimes. I could live reckless and ruin my life and feel no godly remorse at all. It’s a sad place. Romans 6 speaks about people who, like myself, were likely slaves to gross sin.
Paul goes on in verse 21 to basically ask these people, “What was the benefit of all your sin of which you are now ashamed?” Imagine the internal and external wounds acquired from living apart from God. Some may have been ashamed of all their fighting, lying, and cheating. Others may have had battle scars, diseases, and emotional damage from their sin. None of us receive any godly or good reward from our sin. We never achieve satisfaction by sinning, and a life marked by sin ends in eternal suffering away from God.
Verse 22, however, gives us the good news that we can and have been set free from the bondage of sin. We are no longer slaves to sin. Imagine you leave one job for another, and your former boss demands that you come in to work today. Of course you'd decline because you no longer work there! You have a new job. Similarly, we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. When sin demands we come in for work, we now have the right and power to say, "NO!"
Our new life in Christ has earthly benefits such as peace, joy, and growth in godliness. More importantly, it all culminates in eternal life with God in Heaven. Thank God He's called us to "turn up" through turning to Him. Our sin leads to death, but God graciously frees us and offers us life.