Slave or Bond-Servant

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. [Matthew 5:4 ESV]

Mourning is the result of recognizing the fact of sin. Those who mourn, or grieve over their sin, and the  truth and reality of sin will realize the consequences of sin, both the temporary and the eternal ramifications. One of the consequences is separation from God and the corruption of the image of God upon which that relationship was built. We are created by Him for Him.

I do what I do not want to do. What I want to do I don’t do. What I hate doing I continue doing. What I know is right and good and acceptable to God, I cannot, even do not, want to do. I want to sin. I don’t want to sin. A war wages within every Christian. It is a battle of laws I am judged by and wills I must follow. I do not establish the laws. My own will is in submission to the Will of God and the will of sin. “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. [15] I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” [Romans 7:14-15].

The evidence of my life reflects this war.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [Romans 7:21-8:1]

Though I am responsible for what I do what matters is not what I do, or want to do, but whom I serve. Do I serve sin, enslaved by it so that everything I do or think or am resonates sin to the world and to God. Or do I serve God. Only some of what I do emulates my service to God. Everything else I do provides ample evidence of sin’s control. What is the difference? Who is my true Master and how do I know?

In the non-Christian, those wholly captured by sin, there is no conflict, no struggle within, no admission of sin or mourning over the consequences of sin. There may be a momentary struggle deciding what is right or wrong, but the measurement of right and wrong is themselves and not God. There is no war being fought within the non-Christian. Adhering to their own standard of living, their own moral code, they show themselves self-righteous, rich in spirit. Their rebellion against God is complete and completely hidden from themselves.

For the Christian these characteristics are not true. After recognizing sin, after recognizing that I sin, there is no place for self-righteousness. Recognition of sin means I cannot ignore the truth I have violated God’s absolute moral law. Once I see the evidence, once my eyes are opened to who I truly am, I cannot help but mourn, to grieve over the truth I have violated God’s law. Mourning does not last for a moment and then fade into acceptance with time as will most grief. I continue in a conflict, a war between sin and righteousness, waged within for as long as I am exposed to sin. How quickly will I reach a state where I hate this conflict and see the only avenue of escape as death, a longing for eternity with God, guaranteed by His indwelling Spirit. This war is evidence my Master is God and not sin., a conflicted assurance mocked by the world.

The question remains, how do I know my true Master? Our answer is found in the word “serve.” Those in the world are legally “bound” either as “slaves” to sin or “bond-servants” to God. The root word “bound” or “to bind” is a legal term describing a legal contract or covenant which cannot be broken or absolved except by death. So, the marriage covenant is a legally binding decision to unite a man and woman as husband and wife [See Romans 7:1-6]. Breaking this binding before death violates the moral law of God and forces the violation of other laws within the moral law. In fact, breaking the smallest part of the law breaks the whole law. God’s moral law is binding on everyone created in His image under the law. Death is judgment for violating the law of God. We are under a legally binding contract with God to abide by His moral law. Death does not free us from the contractual obligations to God but is a sentence for rebelling, resulting in separation from God.

Christ, the sinless “bond-servant” of God in a way we cannot understand, took upon Himself the consequences of my sin, which is separation from God, breaking the binding of the law and rebinding once again under the law. I cease being a “slave” bound by sin to sin and become a “bond-servant” bound to God by God. My place is secured in nothing I have done, for my master is either sin or God.

A “slave” is someone bought and owned by another having no rights, living and working at the whim of the master. A slave’s entire existence is bound to that of the master. The Western world has grown to abhor the reality of slavery. We despise the implication of the word and have been taught to hate the existence of slavery knowing there are places in the world, even in the Western world, where slavery continues to thrive. Slavery is part of the corrupted nature of sin which desires to control others. This mindset has diluted the concept of slavery to the place where the one controlled by sin refuses to acknowledge their own slavery.

A “bond-servant” on the other hand, is someone who was a slave, been given the opportunity for freedom and has decided to remain in the service of their Master. Again, there is a great chasm between understanding the concept of a “bond-servant” and the freedoms available in the Western world. In a place where I can change jobs at will for whatever reason, I learn to serve only myself. I must learn to relinquish control (which is a subject of upcoming, when I’m finished rambling through this discussion, posts). Christ had the morphe of a bond-servant. Since I am hidden in Him I am freed from the binding to sin as a slave and bound to God as a servant.

I have been bought out of the slave market of sin and placed into service to God. Perhaps a better metaphor is I have died and been resurrected. Death breaks the control of sin over me and resurrection makes me new. This is a future, eternal truth which seems to conflict with the present reality. My fate depends not upon me but upon the One who owns me.

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