Free Slaves

Freedom is something of a slippery subject. In our Western culture freedom tends to be understood as autonomy. I am the master of my fate and may choose what is right and wrong on the journey. Freedom, for many, is the ability to follow any impulse I have without constraint. If I want to marry an animal, I ought to be able to do so. That is freedom. If I am free, how does anyone have any right to tell me what to do?

Though we have not fully enslaved ourselves to this understanding of freedom in our culture (there is still law and order), without a proper foundation for understanding freedom, lawmakers and judges will eventually have very little reason to restrict any activity men can conjure up. Judgments will be consistently challenged based on the understanding the freedom means autonomy.

Freedom as autonomy doesn’t exist. We are all slaves. The world has two kingdoms at war within it with no de-militarized zones between them. Every person on earth is a slave in one of these two kingdoms and does the will of the masters of these kingdoms. Those who believe that they are autonomous are self-deceived slaves to sin. Their obedience to sin reveals their slavery. They are willfully obedient, but they are obedient slaves.

Freedom is not autonomy. Freedom is the removal of constraints that keep me from being what I was created to be: a slave of righteousness; a willful, obedient slave of righteousness. God created us as his image to be growing up more and more into his likeness. We are created to be righteous and holy like our Creator. When we live in this way, we are truly free. Sin is the shackles that bind us, keeping us from serving our true master. It is only when we obey the commands of King Jesus that we are free. Jesus’ commands don’t stifle freedom. They are the grace that he gives us for a life of freedom.

So, how do you know if you are free? Well, where do your loyalties lie? The master you obey determines whether or not you are truly free. If you obey sin, rejecting Jesus’ lordship over your life, refusing to obey his commands, then you are a slave to sin and, thus, in chains. If you adopt Sin’s ways of thinking and living, then Sin is your master. It matters not what you say or that you wish things could be different for you. Your obedience reveals your allegiance. If you are not fighting Sin with King Jesus, then you are Sin’s slave. 

Being a slave of King Jesus and being truly free doesn’t mean that you are sinless. But it does mean that you have taken his attitude about your sin. You think the same way about your sin as he does, and you fight sin the way he fights it. When you do sin, instead of excusing it, you confess and repent of it. You don’t give yourself over to it. It is always trying to gain lordship over you, but you are waging war against it.

If your loyalty lies with King Jesus, you obey his commands. When Jesus says that we are love one another as he loved us (Jn 13.34-35), you pursue that. When Jesus says you pursue peace, you do that. When Jesus says that you forgive, you do that. When Jesus says that you serve others, you do that. When Jesus says that you take up your cross and follow him, you do that. When Jesus says, “Love your wife,” you do that. When Jesus says, “Respect your husband,” you do that. When Jesus says, “Obey your parents,” you do that. When Jesus says, “Be holy,” you pursue that. When Jesus says, “Obey those who have rule over you,” you do that. When you do these things and whatever else Jesus says (revealed in Scripture), then it is revealed that your loyalty lies with him and not with Sin.

So, whose slave are you?