Free or Slave

My mind is very dualistic so I tend to see everything as black or white, right or wrong, and either/or. It is probably the result of eating too much from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil instead of the Tree of Life. So be patient with me as I try to work everything out in my head. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out whether in Christ I’m free or a slave.

This idea that in Jesus I’m free is awesome. I have no trouble accepting that when I met Jesus I was a slave to sin. While I thought I was free and doing whatever I pleased, the reality was quite different - I was a slave to sin - doing the will of my former spiritual father, the devil. This resulted in periods of enjoyment, and long-term hell. We can experience a bit of hell on earth as slaves to sin. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t abandon me to my self-destructive ways. In His great love, He went to the cross to set me free from my slavery to sin.

John 8:32–36: “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 practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

They were slaves to sin and didn’t even recognize it. They were slaves to sin, living under Roman captivity, but their pride wouldn’t let them acknowledge it. What they didn’t realize was the incredible freedom available to them, and us, when we admit we are sinners needing saving.  Like the Jews of Jesus’ day we can get stuck thinking of truth as a thing instead of a person. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Truth was standing right before Him! Truth is more than a what, it is Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life! Receiving the truth by faith doesn’t mean understanding everything. Receiving the truth is trusting Jesus - Who is Truth. He is the only way to freedom from a life of slavery to sin.  Jesus came to set us free from the slavery of sin to make it possible for us to be joint-sons. Have you received freedom in Him? Wow, when He sets you free it is true freedom!

So the religionist, at the declaration of the believers’ freedom, responds, “So are you saying you can do whatever you want?” Sure! Because in Christ, Jesus changes what we want to do! We are still most certainly tempted, but understanding who we are in Christ leads us on path to experiencing true freedom as the sons and daughters of God. He set us free and at the same time purchased us for Himself - so we aren’t our own anymore. People who are purchased are called slaves.

Romans 6:18–19: “and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 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.”

In a very real sense, we believers have just changed our masters. Now we are free from our old taskmaster, who was seeking our destruction.  As His sons and daughters, we have Jesus as our Lord, our Master! We are slaves of righteousness. Righteousness is all that suits us now that we are in Christ. Sin suited us as sinners but no more, because now, in Christ, we are righteous saints and beloved children of God. Just like you used to choose your former master of sin, choose to give yourself to Jesus for everything He wants to do in you and through you. The result of that choice is holiness! True holiness looks like Jesus because we simply allow Jesus - our very life - to live through us.

So what is it, Free or Slave?  Yes!

Tim has been in full-time ministry for the past 30 years. He has been actively involved overseas for most of that time and since 2013 serving as the Senior Pastor of Faith Bible Church in Boerne, TX.