Slavery doesn’t ever sound good to us. But, the Bible tells us that everyone is a slave. Some are slaves to sin, law, and death. These people are mostly ignorant to their plight, they think they are free, but they are not. They are bound in chains and headed to eternal damnation. Some are slaves to Righteousness, we are aware of this, because we know we have the freedom to choose life or death, blessing or curse, freedom in Christ, or slavery to the prince of the power of the air.
When you first believed and called on the name of the Lord to save you, Jesus took off the chains enslaving you to sin and death. The father of lies was no longer your master, Jesus Christ freed you from all of that. Jesus became your master. He didn’t bind you with chains; He bound you with His promise and He gave you the Holy Spirit as a deposit and guarantee of that promise (1 Corinthians 1:22). Let’s start here,
Romans 6:15-23 reads,
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You see, we choose to be slaves to righteousness, we give ourselves to Jesus and choose to obey Him. Most of the slavery discussed in the New Testament of the Bible is not what we consider slavery today. It is not the horror of people abducted from their homes, tortured, broken, and sold. People chose to put themselves into slavery, which is what we might consider similar to an indentured servant, they sold themselves for a period of time, served in a household for that time usually seven years, and then could move on or stay. It was rarely against their will.
We were freed from the slavery of trying to be good and given the opportunity to obey God and be made good. In this choice, we don’t have to try to be good, we are already called righteous; we are the righteousness of Christ! We are no longer our old selves, but new creations. We choose to be free, we choose to be new, we choose to live in our new identity as the image of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 says,
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Our slavery has a purpose, it has good consequences. Because we consistently choose to obey God, He sanctifies us. Sanctification is the process of changing us from the image of the flesh to the image of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit creating a clean heart, and bringing about the fruit of the Spirit, the character of Christ, and perfecting us. That is a choice. We can get saved as an insurance policy against Hell and choose to live in slavery to sin because we are no longer slaves to the law. But that kind of freedom doesn’t give the Holy Spirit permission to change us, make us over, and allow us the true freedom Christ has for us. That kind of life is a lie where the person who could be free, puts himself into the shackles that Jesus died and rose again to remove. We choose Jesus as Lord, we choose to say, “I obey you.” We choose to show the LORD we love Him by speaking His love language to Him, the language of obedience. 1 John 5:2-3 says,
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
God’s commandments are not heavy or oppressive, they are all wrapped up in two and one commandments. To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). And Jesus made it even simpler, He said, “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Jesus described our slavery this way in Matthew 11:28-30,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I imagine this picture: There is a person wandering in the wilderness. He is emaciated with hunger, weak, struggling, and lost. His entire existence has become one of survival, searching for food, hiding from hungry animals, and trying to find the way home. Then comes the Master, His shining light a beacon, His open arms an invitation. This person stumbles toward Him with the last of his strength. Jesus takes him into His arms and carries him to a new home, gives him rest, sustenance, and hope. The Master says, “Be mine.”
That may not be your picture of slavery, but it is the picture of what happens when we choose to be servants of the King, we choose His yoke, and we find rest. While slaves to the law must work and blindly hope for salvation, we are slaves to righteousness and we enter into His rest. We can do that because as a slave we are not the owners of ourselves or the debt which we can never pay. We let Jesus pay that price and so we belong to God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads,
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
We are free because we are slaves, does that make any sense? We used to be slaves to the law, sin, and Satan, but Jesus bought our freedom, He purchased us, and so we are His now, but we live in freedom from everything which enslaves humanity. 1 Corinthians 7:23 says,
You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.
And Revelation 5:9-10 explains the freedom of this slavery this way,
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
He paid for our freedom and made us a kingdom! We live as citizens of the kingdom of Heaven, He made us priests, 1 Peter 2:9 actually says we are a royal priesthood. And furthermore, above all that, as the people bought by Jesus’ blood we will reign on the earth.
Being slaves to Christ, belonging to Him means we are no longer slaves to sin, death, and law. That also means we cannot be condemned to death or convicted to punishment in Hell. We are freed from the punishment for all the sins we committed and will commit. There is one price for those sins, death; that payment was made by Jesus. Jesus not only paid the price with His life for ours, He fulfilled the law for us by His righteousness and sacrifice Romans 8:1-4 in The Message reads,
1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us
Believer, you are a slave, you belong to Christ! Isn’t that marvelous news? Live a life worthy of the One who bought your life by His blood. Don’t choose slavery to the law. Don’t wear the shackles of bondage to sin. Live in the rest and freedom of slavery to Jesus.