506. Then when he says, for as you have yielded, he presents the teaching he called human, in which he teaches that the body must be yielded to the slavery of justice in the same measure as we yielded it to the slavery of sin. And this is what he says: for as you have yielded your members to serve, namely, by doing evil works, uncleanness and iniquity born in the heart. Here uncleanness refers to sins of the flesh: but immorality and every uncleanness, let it not even be named among you (Eph 5:3), and iniquity to spiritual sins, particularly those that harm one’s neighbor: he plots iniquity while on his bed (Ps 36:4). Which sins having been born in the heart, the members serve unto iniquity, namely to the work of committing iniquity. And here the Psalmist uses iniquity to mean uncleanness and iniquity, for all sin is iniquity (1 John 3:4). And this in so far as it is discordant with the justice of the divine law.
So now, set free from sin, yield your members, namely, by performing good works, to serve justice proposed to us in the divine law: and this unto sanctification, i.e., for the performance and increase of holiness: let the holy still be holy (Rev 22:11).
He calls this human, because right reason demands that man serve justice more than he previously served sin: for as it was your mind to go astray from God; so when you return again, you shall seek him ten times as much (Bar 4:28).
507. Then he assigns the reason for this teaching, saying, for when you were the servants.
In regard to this he does two things:
first, he presents a reason for the teaching;
second, he proves something he had presupposed, at for the wages of sin is death.
The reason behind the above teaching is that the state of grace is preferable to the state of sin. For if more benefits accrue to us from the state of justice than from sin, we should be more eager to serve justice than we were to serve sin.
First, therefore, he describes the state of sin;
second, the state of justice, at but now being made free.
In regard to the first he does three things:
first, he describes the condition of the sinner;
second, the effect of sin, at what fruit therefore;
third, its end, at for the end of them is death.
508. In regard to the first it should be considered that man is by nature free because of his reason and will, which cannot be forced but can be inclined by certain things. Therefore, in regard to the freedom of the will man is always free of compulsion, although he is not free of inclinations.
For the free judgment is sometimes inclined to the good through the habit of grace or justice; and then it is in slavery to justice but free from sin. But sometimes the free judgment is inclined to evil through the habit of sin; and then it is in slavery to sin and free from justice. Now, slavery to sin consists in being drawn to consent to sin against the judgment of reason: everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin (John 8:34).
And in regard to this he says, for when you were the servants of sin. Freedom from justice, on the other hand, implies that a man rushes headlong into sin without the restraint of justice; in regard to this he says, you were free men to justice. This happens especially in those who sin of set purpose. For those who sin out of weakness or passion are restrained by some bridle of justice, that they do not seem to be freed from justice altogether: long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds; and you said, ‘I will not serve’ (Jer 2:20); a vain man is lifted up into pride, and thinks himself born free like a wild ass’ colt (Job 11:12).
509. Yet it should be noted that this state involves true slavery and only apparent freedom.
For since man should act according to reason, he is truly a slave when he is led away from what is reasonable by something alien. Furthermore, if he is not restrained by the yoke of reason from following concupiscence, he is free only in the opinion of those who suppose that the highest good is to follow one’s concupiscence.
510. Then when he says, what fruit therefore, he shows the effect of sin.
One effect he excludes, namely, a fruitful return, when he says, what fruit therefore had you, namely, when you were committing those sins. For the works of sin are unfruitful, because they do not help man to obtain happiness: their works are unprofitable works (Isa 59:6); woe to you that devise that which is unprofitable and work evil in your beds (Mic 2:1).
The effect he mentions is confusion, saying, in those things, namely, the sins, of which you are now, in the state of repentance, ashamed because of their baseness. After you instructed me, I struck my thigh; I was confounded and ashamed (Jer 31:19). You shall be ashamed of the gardens (Isa 1:29), namely, of the pleasure you had chosen.
511. Then he mentions the end of sin, saying, for the end of them, namely of sins, is death.
This of course is not the objective in the mind of the sinner, because be does not intend to incur death by sin; nevertheless, it is the end of those sins, because of their very nature they bring temporal death. For when the soul separates God from itself, it deserves to have its body separated from it. Sins also bring eternal death, because when one wills to be separated from God for a time, he deserves to be separated from him forever; and this is eternal death: they who do such things are worthy of death (Rom 1:32).
512. Then when he says, but now, he describes the state of justice:
first, he describes a condition of this state;
second, the effect, at you have your fruit;
third, the end, at and the end life.
513. In regard to the first it should be noted that just as when one is by sin inclined to evil, he is free from justice, so when one is by the habit of justice and grace inclined to good, he is free from sin, so that he is not overcome by it to the point of consenting to it. Hence he says: but now in the state of justice, being made free from sin: if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36).
On the other hand, just as in the state of sin one is a slave of sin which he obeys, so in the state of justice one is a slave of God and obeys him willingly: serve the Lord with gladness (Ps 100:2). And this is what he adds: and become servants to God: O Lord, I am your servant (Ps 116).
But this is true freedom and the best form of slavery, because by justice man is inclined to what befits him and is turned from what befits concupiscence which is distinctively bestial.
514. Then when he says, you have your fruit, he mentions the effect of justice, saying, you have your fruit unto sanctification, i.e., the fruit of sanctity by good works is your return, inasmuch as these please you in a spiritual and holy way: my flowers are the fruit of honor and riches (Sir 24:23); but the fruit of the Spirit is joy, peace (Gal 5:22).
515. After that he mentions the end, saying, and you have the end, life everlasting, which is the goal of just men who do all their works for the sake of obtaining eternal life: seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you (Matt 6:33). It is also the end of the works themselves which merit eternal life, since they are done out of obedience to God and in imitation of God: my sheep hear my voice, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life (John 10:27).
516. Then when he says, for the wages of sin, he clarifies what he had said about the ends of evil and of good.
First, in regard to evil he says: we have stated that the end of sins is death: for the wages of sin is death. Wages or stipends were the salaries paid soldiers. These were paid in money. Therefore, because by sinning one makes war by using his members as arms for sin, death is said to be the wages of sin, i.e., the return paid to those who serve it.
Death, therefore, is the return which pays those who are its slaves. It is not the end they seek but the end paid to them: on the wicked he will rain coals of fire and brimstone; a scorching wind will be the portion of their cup (Ps 11:6).