Everyone seeks freedom. Especially in the West, freedom is the highest virtue, and it is sought after by all who are, or consider themselves to be, oppressed. But freedom in Christ is not the same as political or economic freedom. In fact, some of the most harshly oppressed people in history have had complete freedom in Christ. The Bible tells us that, spiritually speaking, no one is free. In Romans 6:16-18(HCSB)16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. Paul explains that we are all slaves. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. Those who are slaves to sin cannot free themselves from it, but once we are freed from the penalty and power of sin through the cross, we become a different kind of slave, and in that slavery we find complete peace and true freedom.
Although it seems like a contradiction, the only true freedom in Christ comes to those who are His slaves. Slavery has come to mean degradation, hardship, and inequality. But the biblical paradigm is the true freedom of the slave of Christ who experiences joy and peace, the products of the only true freedom we will ever know in this life. There are 124 occurrences in the New Testament of the word doulos, which means “someone who belongs to another” or “bondslave with no ownership rights of his own.” Unfortunately, most modern Bible versions, as well as the King James Version, most often translate doulos as “servant” or “bond-servant.” But a servant is one who works for wages, and who, by virtue of his work, is owed something from his master. The Christian, on the other hand, has nothing to offer the Lord in payment for his forgiveness, and he is totally owned by the Master who bought him with His shed blood on the cross. Christians are purchased by that blood and are the possession of their Lord and Savior. We are not hired by Him; we belong to Him (Romans 8:9(HCSB)9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.). So “slave” is really the only proper translation of the word doulos.
Far from being oppressed, the slave of Christ is truly free. We have been set free from sin by the Son of God who said, “If the Son sets you free, you really will be free ” (John 8:34-36(HCSB)34 Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.).
Now the Christian can truly say, along with Paul, Romans8:1-2(HCSB)1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, 2 because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
We now know the truth and that truth has set us free,through our bondage to Christ, we have also become sons and heirs of the Most High God (Galatians 4:1–7(HCSB)1 Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. 2 Instead, he is under guardians and stewards until the time set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elemental forces of the world. 4 When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
As heirs, we are partakers of that inheritance—eternal life—which God grants to all His children. This is a privilege beyond any earthly treasure we could ever inherit, while those in bondage to sin inherit only spiritual death and an eternity in hell.
We are not all God’s children just because we are born. Jesus explains it to the Pharisees in John.
John 8:42-44(HCSB)42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars.
Why, then, do so many Christians live as though they are still in bondage? For one thing, we often rebel against our Master, refusing to obey Him and clinging to our old lives. We hold on to the sins that once bound us to Satan as our master. Because our new nature still lives in the old fleshly nature, we are still drawn to sin. Paul tells the Ephesians to “put off” the old self with its deceit and corruption and “put on” the new self with its righteousness. Put off lying, and put on truthfulness. Put off stealing, and put on usefulness and work. Put off bitterness, rage, and anger, and put on kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. We have been set free from the bondage of sin, but we often put the chains back on because part of us loves the old life.
Often we don’t realize that we have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20(ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
and that we have been reborn as completely new creatures
2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.. The Christian life is one of death to self and rising to “walk in a new way of life” (Romans 6:4(ESV)4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. and that new life is characterized by thoughts about Him who saved us, not thoughts about the dead flesh that has been crucified with Christ. When we are continually thinking about ourselves and indulging the flesh in sins we have been freed from, we are essentially carrying around a corpse, full of rottenness and death. The only way to bury it fully is by the power of the Spirit who is the only source of strength. We strengthen the new nature by continually feeding on the Word of God, and through prayer we obtain the power we need to escape the desire to return to the old life of sin. Then we will realize that our new status as slaves to Christ is the only true freedom, and we will call upon His power to “not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (Romans 6:12).
We were not created to be sinful. We were designed by God in His own image. Humanity is His masterpiece. We were designed to live in fellowship with our Creator. But because of sin, we cannot enter His presence. When Jesus died on the cross, He took upon Himself all the sin of the world. By taking the punishment for our sin, He cancelled the debt that each of us owes God. He also reversed the curse of our old natures, which keeps us enslaved to sinful passions and desires. Before a person meets Christ, he or she is enslaved by that sin nature. At the moment of conversion, we are given a new nature that has been freed from sin. The entire chapter of Romans 6 explains this in detail. Romans 6:14 says, (HCSB)“14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
To be free from sin means that those who have made Jesus the Lord of their lives are no longer enslaved by sin. We have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to live victoriously over sin. Just like we once followed fleshly desires, those who are “in Christ Jesus” now follow the Holy Spirit Galatians 5:24(HCSB) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. . Because we live in a fallen world and are still fleshly creatures, we will still occasionally sin
1 John 1:9(HCSB) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.;
1 John 2:1(HCSB)My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One.
But those who follow Christ do not make sin a lifestyle choice.
Those who have been born again (John 3:3(HCSB)3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” have received a new nature. Whereas the old nature drew us toward self-pleasure, the new nature tugs us toward holiness
2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. To be free from sin means it no longer wields the power it once did. The stranglehold of selfishness, greed, and lust has been broken. Freedom from sin allows us to offer ourselves as willing slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ, who continues to work in us to make us more like Him (Romans 6:18(HCSB)and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.