Wednesday, February 20, 2013

FROM SLAVERY TO FRIENDSHIP

Slavery.......it has been around since humanity has had problems.  It has not gone away.  Enslaved to something or someone, this is how it has been for all of us throughout history whether we acknowledge it or not.

a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him - 2 Peter 2:19

What has mastery over you today?  Is it one thing?  Is it many?  Is your master negative?  Is your master positive?  One resource for certain that can teach all of us a thing or two on this subject of slavery is The Bible.

The Word of God mentions words and/or terms such as - slaves, slave drivers, slaves having slaves (Ex. 12:43-44), slave girls (2 Sam. 6:20; Nahum 2:7; Acts 16:16), slave labor force (1 Kings 9:21), and a slave trader (1 Tim. 1:9-10).  Scripture showcases the Hebrew people as slaves and their subsequent freedom from Egypt by The Lord through Moses (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:36, 40-41).  This group of people ended up in slavery again years later via the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:1-3).  One might think that these people knowing how slavery was would not have slaves of their own, BUT that is exactly what was allowed.

44 " 'Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. - Leviticus 25:44-45

Years later, God says to His own people through His "Weeping Prophet" Jeremiah - "Let my people go" or set your slaves free.  Here is the actual passage -

8 The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim freedom for the slaves. 9 Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, both male and female; no one was to hold a fellow Jew in bondage. 10 So all the officials and people who entered into this covenant agreed that they would free their male and female slaves and no longer hold them in bondage. They agreed, and set them free. 11 But afterward they changed their minds and took back the slaves they had freed and enslaved them again. 12 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 13 "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your forefathers when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said, 14 'Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrew who has sold himself to you. After he has served you six years, you must let him go free.' Your fathers, however, did not listen to me or pay attention to me. 15 Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to his countrymen. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name. 16 But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again. 17 "Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim 'freedom' for you, declares the LORD--'freedom' to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth. - Jeremiah 34:8-17
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Scripture also records slavery as an inescapable condition because it is paired with it's master - Sin.

...everyone who sins is a slave to sin. - John 8:34

Notice how the verse gives us the plural then the singular of the word "sin".  In my paraphrase it is saying -  everyone who makes mistakes and rebels against God consistently will always yield to that nature.  However, if a person has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior and chosen to Follow Him and not be just a fan - he or she "is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Corinthians 5:17  Not that the person does not ever sin again, but the judgment for all one's sins has been paid for at The Cross and new life within the new creation starves away the old desires by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hallelujah!

do not become slaves of men. - 1 Corinthians 7:23

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. - Titus 3:3 

...when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. - Galatians 4:3

Don't you just love these past tense words and phrases ("At one time", "we lived", "we were")?  Now let us consider some verses that confirm for the Believer the price Christ paid for our freedom from slavery.

You were bought at a price; - 1 Corinthians 7:23

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. - Galatians 5:1

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- Romans 6:6

Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? - Romans 6:16

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. - Romans 6:18

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. - Romans 6:19

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. - Romans 6:22

Notice how in addition to giving Christ the acknowledgement for securing our freedom, these verses also describe better things, concepts, ideas, and/or goals -  to be slaves or servants unto (obedience, righteousness, holiness, God).  According to Matthew 20:27 and 1 Corinthians 9:19, slavery becomes an attitude and lifestyle of service.  In Matthew 20:27, the attitude or lifestyle is established in order to be first.

whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." - Matthew 20:26-28

In the 1 Corinthians 9:19 verse the attitude or lifestyle of slavery is in order to win as many as possible.

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
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It is great for a Believer in Christ to really get a grasp on the better things to service in life.  It is wonderful for a Christian to have the right kind of heart and attitude.  The Bible calls it being a slave unto....  Some translations say being a servant unto.....  However, slaves have no family rights or privileges, BUT sons and daughters do.  

So, guess what?  "I bring you good news of great joy" for all Believers in Christ Jesus - you are sons and daughters of the Most High God!  In addition, since you are sons and daughters of The King of Kings you are also heirs of an inheritance we cannot even begin to wrap our feeble, little brain around.  Consider the following - 

15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. - Romans 8:15-17

when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ""Abba", Father." 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. - Galatians 4: 4- 7

I have heard it said that a Father must keep being a friend and being a Father separate throughout the raising of his children.  I disagree.  A true Father is one-in-the-same as well as many other supportive roles.  The Christian's Heavenly Father is the perfect example of being perfectly both.  When Father God sent His Son Jesus, He sent the perfect expression of His love for us.  Every word, every action, every thought of the Father was communicated through Jesus.  Father God did not merely say, "I love you from heaven", He showed all of us within our depravity just how much He loved us.  Through Paul, God no longer called God's Disciples slaves or servants, He called them sons.  In addition, through Jesus, God called His Disciples friends.  This is the same for Believers today.  Through Jesus, God not only calls us sons and daughters, He calls us Friends.     

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. - John 15:13-17

Wow!  We were once slaves, now we are sons, daughters, and friends of The Most High King!

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24

Thank you Savior!  Thank you Redeemer!  Thank you Father God!  Thank you Son of God!  Thank you Friend!