The joy of being a slave
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…
Paul starts off what is arguably the most important single book of the Bible in such a strange way doesn’t he? To call himself a “slave” of Jesus. It’s interesting because this is one of the only places he does that (he only does it one other time in Phil 1:1). Why does Paul call himself a slave, and why does he think that the very first title he introduces himself as to the Romans should be this one? Well, I would say it’s because Paul sees the joy of being a slave of Jesus!
One of the ways that the Bible classifies all people in the world is through the use of the word slave. You can either be a slave of Jesus, or else, by default, you’re a slave to sin.
So what does it mean to be a slave, either to Jesus or to sin? Well, first it’s important to know how they’re similar. I think there at least 3 ways in which all slaves are similar…
1. You belong to someone else, you are not your own.
2.You are not in ultimate control of yourself, someone else is, and…
3.You MUST serve your master.
So how does this work when we’re slaves to sin?
1. You belong to sin and Satan (John 8:44, Acts 13:10). Think about that, when you were lost and dead in your trespasses and sins…they owned you. You thought you belonged to yourself, but what we belong to defines us, and you were defined by sin. See, the Bible says that sin is deceitful (Hebrews 3:13), that it tricks us. Sin leads us to believe that we free individuals, it tells us that we have “free will.” Any of you who were once slaves to sin though know that you most definitely did not have a free will, you were controlled and compelled by sin…which brings us to #2
2. You are not in ultimate control of yourself, sin is.
Again, for those of you who can look back at your former life, you totally see that. There may have been times in your life where your conscience pricked you and you wanted to stop sinning, but how often did you succeed? And even if you did succeed stopping the outward sin, did you really stop the heart condition that caused the sin in the first place? No, when we were slaves to sin, we were controlled by it, and it was a ruthless master. It made us prone to addictions, spiraling chasms of wicked behavior, and it made us, at times, totally able to be completely selfish and self-centered, even to the detriment of those who loved us. Truly an evil master.
3. You MUST serve your master. This is the worst one. Think about it, have you ever had an addiction? Chances are that you have, especially when we stop thinking of addictions only in the “big sin” category. What things in your life have had control over you to such a degree that you HAD to do/have it? Coffee? Soda? Chocolate? Sex? Cigarets? Alcohol? Video games? Money? Relationships? Friends? Food? Health? Sickness? Family? Solidarity? Power? Fame? Ya, the list could go on…but do you see that? Those are all areas where I’ve either been addicted, or have seen others be addicted. The problem is sin is so deceitful that we don’t see our addictions unless they fall into those big categories, but when we come to understand that any of those areas can become addictions, or maybe a better word would be “idols”, when we come to see them as such, then we realize that we truly have been “mastered by sin.” And that is a terrible thing…sin a truly a wicked master…
So what does it mean to be a slave of Jesus? Well, that’s what my next post will be all about;-)
So stay tuned!