At first glance the idea of being a slave repulses us. No one likes the idea of being ‘owned’ by anyone or anything. We like to think of ourselves as ‘free’ and ‘independent’. These are ideals that we value. The simple fact is it’s just not true.
The Bible teaches us that we are either ‘slaves of sin’ or ‘slaves of righteousness.’ Here are two passages that speak directly to this issue:
John 8:31-34, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never 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 a slave to sin.” (ESV)
Jesus had to help these Jews see beyond their lineage to the depths of their hearts by teaching them that apart from Christ all who sin are slaves to sin. Paul would say it this way in Romans 6:16,
“Do you not konw 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 obedience, which leads to righteousness? 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, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
Simply put: We are all slaves to something!
Maybe you’re a slave to the constant pursuit of perfection…or the constant need to have pleasure…or to be accepted…or success…or the constant need of being in control?
Here’s where the gospel turns things upside down. When we put our trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, we become a slave to Christ (just as Paul said he was!). And by becoming His slave we actually for the very first time become free. That’s right, totally free!
Think about it…we’re free from the pursuit of perfection because Christ was perfect for us and has given us His perfection. We are free from the constant need of pleasure because in Christ there is the fulness of joy. We are free from needing the approval of others because we have the approval of God through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. We are free from being consumed by the pleasures of this world because Christ offers us a greater joy and the promise of eternal blessings that will never fade away. And we could go on and on! By becoming a slave of Christ we become free!
Do you want to find out what you are a slave to? Then ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Your greatest fears will help you realize where your affections really are. For example, if your greatest fear is poverty then you may be a slave to money and comfort.
Or you can ask yourself, “What are my biggest dreams / desires?” Your greatest desires will also help you see where your affections are. Let me give you another example. If your greatest dream is to climb the corporate ladder then perhaps you’re a slave to work.
We are either slaves to sin or slaves to Christ. The first leads to bondage…the second to freedom! Oh, that we would know the truth and the truth will set us free!