Last blog article I wrote about how Jesus offers us freedom if we hold to his teachings, and how in that context Jesus primary teachings were about himself and the satisfaction that knowing him brought. By finding all we long for in Him we can truly be free from sin.
Now, however, I want to present the flip side of that freedom and the implication that it has for us.
Paul in Romans 6:17-23 writes:
“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I print so much of the scriptures because I think Paul says it much more articulately then I can. Paul’s point here is that at one time we were slaves to sin, the same point Jesus made in John 8:34. But Paul then goes on to add something a little different.
Jesus talks about the absoluteness of freedom that we receive when we are set free from sin. Paul talks about what the freedom looks like and brings. The question that Paul answers is “freedom to what?”
For some of us the thought of freedom conjures up the idea that now we are own man, and we can do as we please. We are not bound by any man, law, or command. It is almost like we think of freedom as the ideal that Adam and eve were going when they ate the fruit.
Paul offers a corrective outlook to this. He makes it clear that once we are freed from sin we are still slaves. The question is whose slave are we. You see in the 1st century mindset it wasn’t horrible to be a slave, but what did matter was whose slave you are. Did you have a cruel task master, or do you have a benevolent powerful master?
The story of our redemption for Paul is that we are freed from the cruel and lowly task master of sin, who will bring us nothing but death, and we now have a new master. We are now slaves of God, and of righteousness. This brings us life.
True this is not the only analogy that Paul uses to describe our relationship to God, but it certainly was important for him. Paul actually uses “Slave of Christ” as his title in the opening of several of his letters, Romans being one of them. You can even see it in his mindset in 1 Cor 6:19, 20.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
So as you can see our freedom is a freedom from sin, and into servanthood of Christ. We are not our own. We were bought with a price. We have a wonderfully merciful, and benevolent master who enables us to serve him and forgives all our sins. Even though while were slaves to sin we were his enemies, He acted in his Son to bring us freedom. The freedom to serve him.