God the Great Deliverer
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him,
When Slavery was still prominent in the south an Englishman bought a slave that was being bid high. When the slave approached him he asked, “Why would you purchase me when slavery is no longer being practiced in your own home?” He replied, “I bought you to set you free.” The slave in gratitude and joy said back to his new master, “I will be your willing slave forever.” This illustration shows us what a new life in Christ is about. When Christ died and rose again he did so to be our new deliverer. I want to examine this question “Whose slave are you?”
Isn’t it interesting that the things you choose to own usually end up owning us? We buy new cars and then must work harder than ever to make the payments. We buy new homes and then must spend our weekends maintaining them. Even worse is the way our sinful behaviors come to dominate our lives. One of the cruelest consequences of sin is that it will make a slave out of you. One of the greatest benefits of redemption is that it will set you free from sin. Christ declared that His coming was to set the captives free. Only holiness theology fulfills this promise in the truest sense. A doctrine that allows a person to keep on sinning leaves them in slavery. In Romans 8:16 Paul writes, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” In 2 Peter 2:19 we find the same idea, “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” The question we have to ask ourselves today is what or who is our master? The deep truth we find today in our illustration is that the English man bought the slave to set him free and in return the slave willing became a slave to the new owner. Paul points out that when we become slaves to righteousness then we are no longer held by the master of sin.
Life is filled with choices about whom and what we will obey. The truth is that eventually something or someone will run your life. The question is where do you fall today? Today men have become a slave to their job, their home, their spouse, their children. We find within our relationships, goals, employment, education, career, debt and marriages that all of these include the bondage of slavery. In John 8:34 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” When a slave was set free they didn’t want to return to the brutality and bondage of their previous life. They wanted to enjoy the freedom they received. When Christ finished his work on the cross and grave he made it possible to experience new freedom: WE WERE DELIVERED. Paul declares it in 1 Corinthians 7:22-23, “And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.”
Three different times Paul identifies himself as a slave to Christ ( Romans 1:1, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1). When Paul talks about his Chains in Philippians 1:12 he uses them to identify his relationship with Christ. Paul tells us that we are either a slave to Christ or a slave to sin. You can’t have Christ as Lord and be doing the work of the devil. We can’t be honoring Christ with our lips but not with our hearts as described in Matthew 15:8. This comes from Isaiah 29:13, “these people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Christ set us free so that we could follow him, love him, and obey him completely. To atone for sin means to cover but Christ didn’t just cover sin he expiated it meaning he wiped it out. Christ provides a new deliverance in that he loosed us, sets us free from the bondage of guilt and power of sin.
So we go back to the beginning question “Whose slave are you?” Job, home, debt? Or is it Christ? When these other things become our masters and consume us we neglect Christ being our master. Jesus told us we can only serve one master; we can’t serve slavery to the world and sin and serve Christ. Christ came so we would serve one master, Christ. God wants balance in our lives. Anytime we are not following Christ as master and these other things take away from it, we are sinning. Following anything other than Christ leads to death. You can experience death in this life when we stray away from Christ has Lord. But we are to be slaves to Christ. Psychology seeks to explain the power of sin and attribute its continuity to some form of habit. Habits are things we don’t realize we are doing. The thing about habits is that they are things we don’t realize we are doing until someone points them out and then usually we react with anger and frustration towards the other person. You might think what you are doing is right. A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. Christ died and defeated sin. He mastered over what was master. We must not be mastered but master through Jesus Christ.
Psalm 118:5, “In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free.”
With Love in Christ, Pastor Jamie
P.S. Mark your calendar now for April 16th which is our Easter Celebration. I’m excited about this time. I want and need everyone here on this special day.