"For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." Romans 6:20
In a world that sometimes seems overwhelmingly gray, it is refreshing to find truths that come in stark black and white. Sadly, while we're throwing wild punches in the gray areas, it's easy to sustain an uppercut or a knockout from out-and-out sin. (A little boxing lingo here!)
This verse in Romans tells us plainly and simply that every one of us is both a servant and a free individual, at the same time. There is no probation stage or interim period here. This is how it works: You are either free from sin (not its reality, but its rule) and a servant to righteousness; or you are free from righteousness (not its reality, but its rule) and a servant to sin. It's just that black and white.
Our choice here, with the measure of freewill a Sovereign God has given us, is from which we choose to be freed. I say this, because obviously, as sinful creatures, servitude, as such, will never be our first choice. However, this is like the law of sowing and reaping; one thing automatically sets the other in motion. If freedom from God's righteous demands is all-important to me, I, like the Prodigal Son, can run away. But, also like the Prodigal Son, I will end up working for the husks of this world, at the beck and call of its swine-keepers (Luke 15).
On the other hand, I can choose to throw off the heavy chains of sin, with the stipulation that I will serve a different Master; One who promises, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt.11:30).
Every one of us can rightfully claim to be free; it's just that we are free from different things. But, at the same time, every one is a servant, no matter how freewheeling we might think ourselves to be; it's just that we serve different masters.
I made the conscious decision many years ago to take advantage of God's "Emancipation Proclamation," sealed with the Blood of Jesus Christ, knowing full well it placed me in service to Him. Now I live accordingly—not perfectly, just purposely. And I tell you, I wouldn't trade places with the freest "husk-picker" in town!