Friday, September 2, 2011

A Free Slave

Every one of us is a slave to something, but that slavery protects us, or "frees" us from its antithesis.

Romans 6 is very explicit about this contrast.
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. (Romans 6:17-18 ESV)
You were a slave to sin, then you were born again, and now you're a slave of righteousness. This is an exclusive proposition; you cannot be under the yoke of both sin and righteousness. Jesus teaches this truth in the Sermon on the Mount.
 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24 ESV)
Many (myself on too many occasions) try to live under righteousness, but also seek the desires of the world. Paul says you cannot do that, you have been set free from sin. In Galatians, Paul says, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal 5:1). We're trying to walk back to our old master. Doesn't that sound like Israel as they left Egypt? (Numbers 11:4-6, Numbers 14:2) We are just as ridiculous when trying to put back on the yoke of the flesh.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:13-17 ESV)
Sin and righteousness, the flesh and the Spirit, freedom and slavery--these are all institutions that every person lives under. The interesting part is that not only are we a slave to one of them, but we are free from the other. As mentioned previously, if we are slaves to righteousness, we are free from sin. We are not required to sin; we can escape sin's clutches by the power of the Spirit. It works the other way around too. If you are a slave to sin, you are free from righteousness. Indeed, you cannot do right. (Isaiah 64:6, Psalm 14:1-3, Romans 3:23)

If you are free from righteousness, then the shocking truth is that you are also free from the grace God gives the righteous.
I proclaim to you liberty to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 34:17)
What a horrible freedom. But we need not remain there. Jesus sets the captives free. Be truly free, be a slave of Christ (John 8:36). Jesus paid the ultimate price, his own life, to set you free, "For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men" (1 Cor 7:22-23).

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21 ESV)
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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