Sunday, June 10, 2012

You're a Slave to Someone

Us Westerners are interesting folks, aren't we? The American social experiment was an oddity among oddities in the annals of human history. I mean, it isn't every day a group of people get to decide a system of government for themselves. Many blessings came as a result of our new-found freedoms and liberties, including the eventual abolition of the institution of slavery. The abolitionist movement was brought about by the philosophical consistency of our Constitutional and natural human rights, and justly so. One unfortunate bi-product of our American liberty has been the affect on how we view ourselves in relation to God and His moral requirements. After all, we are Americans and no one can tell us what to do! We are slaves to no one!

Jesus has something very different to say on the topic of slavery:

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “ If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “ We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36, NASB).
The Lord Jesus speaks of the crowd's need to be "made free," which was not received well as you can tell by their response: "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone..." Weeell, were they enslaved or weren't they? They claimed that because they were Abraham's descendants that they couldn't possibly be enslaved! But Jesus plainly states that "everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin." This is also how we all are born into this life, and we all need to be set free by the true and living God.

Paul's masterful letter to the Romans addresses this issue:

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Romans 6:16, NASB).
When you obey sin, you are a slave of sin. This is how everyone enters into the world: enslaved to sin and to the desires of the devil. Now, the Christian has been set free from the chains of sin and has a new master: Jesus Christ. 

Wait just a minute ... don't Christians continue to sin? Yes, they do. Personally, I can't remember a day where I didn't sin in some way. The difference now for the Christian is that they have been set free from the bondage of sin and now serves a new master. Men who remain enslaved to sin are given over to its lusts and desires. They love their sin! Though they may not like the consequences of their sin. By contrast, the Christian hates his sin, and fights against it. It is not natural for him to sin.

A question asked by my pastor this morning is worth repeating: "Why is it that nominal Christians want to know how close to the line of the world they can get? The real Christian is concerned about holiness of life and sanctification." I have often wondered how many so-called Christians continue to call themselves Christians when it is plain they have no interest whatsoever in pleasing the Lord. It is not amusing to me to try to lean over the edge of the cliff towards sin when God speaks clearly about our moral behavior. 

True Christianity involves obedience: "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:17-18, NASB). All Christians were slaves of sin. "Were." This past tense verb indicates that Christians are no longer slaves of sin, but are slaves to God. We naturally want to perform the works of our Father God. 

Finally, it can be easy to miss that Paul offers thanks to God for this truth. If you are a Christian, it is only because the Son has set you free - and you are free indeed! But what are you freed from? Bondage to sin! Now you can serve the interests of Christ and continue to do what He wants. Praise God for this! No more are we bound by the devil's commands! Your heart of stone was turned into a heart of flesh and you have been raised in newness of life to do good works that are pleasing to God.

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