SCRIPTURE STUDY: Jeremiah 34:8-21; Romans 6:15-23
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF, AND SLAVERY ISN’T AN EXCEPTION
A study of history shows that great civilizations of the world averaged about 200 years and the people of the world have followed this timetable:
The people go:
From slavery to spiritual faith.
From spiritual faith to courage
From courage to liberty
From liberty to abundance
From abundance to selfishness
From selfishness to apathy
From apathy to dependence
From dependence back to slavery.
–The Bible Friend
FREEDOM IS PART OF GOD’S NATURE [Jeremiah 34:13]
At the beginning of Israel’s history, God made a COVENANT with His people to make them FREE. He would be their God and they would be His people, There would be times of slavery, but He would always be there to free His people.
And today, God expresses Himself as a God who wants us to live in freedom.
He said this in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth:
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom).” (2 Corinthians 3:17 Amplified Bible)
So part of God’s nature is the idea that He wants us to be FREE!
Freedom should be a characteristic of God’s people.
God made it part of Israel’s social connection. God instituted a “Year of Jubilee”.
God provided a way for Israel to keep from hurting one another financially. When used properly, no one became more important than God. Everyone would be cared for properly. [See Leviticus 25:10 for reference]
The terms of God’s covenant, or agreement, allowed service of one Hebrew to another but never slavery. God also specified a six-year limitation of that service with the seventh year jubilee release of further obligation.
Finally, the king and the people during Jeremiah’s day agreed to the letter of the law.
The problem was that the people misused this, enslaving people economically. God never wants us to use our freedom to abuse someone else’s freedom. Instead, we should be in the business of “setting people free” by using our God-given FREEDOM as our responsibility.
The Bible warns us that we shouldn’t use our liberty to sin.
1 Peter 2:16 (NIV)
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
Charles Kingsley said, “there are two freedoms–the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.” If we are to be truly free we must follow the latter, not the former. [Footnote [i].]
The trouble comes when we take the liberty and freedom which God has given us and abuse it.
In the case of God’s people, they were taking their repentance back and were showing repentance only to get God’s favor. They never truly wanted a change.
They wanted the benefits of freedom without the responsibility that comes with it,
Jeremiah 34:16 (NIV)
 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.
God doesn’t like it when we take the FREEDOM which He has given us and we misuse it.
Look at what He tells His people: They aren’t truly changed people and as a result, they reap the consequences:
THE LORD WILL SET US FREE!
He released us from the penalty of every sin in our life. Therefore, we are to forgive others as He has forgiven us. And sometimes we do that…for awhile. But then we remember what he said about us, what she did to us and, like king Zedekiah we change our minds and back into our debt they go.
So how can we have true FREEDOM–the real deal?
“What then [are we to conclude]? Shall we sin because we live not under the Law but under God’s favor and mercy? Certainly not!” (verse 15 – Amplified)
(*See v. 14) – For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy].
To live “under grace” means FREEDOM to do not what we want but what we ought!
It means FREEDOM for obedience, not an excuse for disobedience.
SIN DOES MATTER!
Freedom doesn’t mean the absence of rules.
We live in a free country, but I’m not free to go into your house and take your television. There are laws in a free country. People come to live in America because it offers an opportunity to a better way of life (not lack of laws). The same is true about living for God.
“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations” (vs. 19a).
Paul admits that SLAVERY is an imperfect illustration of Christian life (God is not like the slave master’s of Paul’s day), but he uses it because it helps us (who have “weak” minds) understand a basic principle–
- God is our Master to whom we owe total commitment.
So here’s the challenge: Let God–NOT SIN–rule your life (vs. 19b).
“Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.”
Christians who live as SLAVES of SIN, must no longer live as SLAVES to SIN!
The Big Idea: Since everyone is a SLAVE–either to SIN or to GOD–it’s best to choose the slavery that gives the best results. It’s an either-or situation. Either you’re a slave to sin or a slave to God. There’s no middle ground.
The question is not if we bow down before a master, but before which master will we bow to? There’s no such thing as an uncommitted Christian!
The Truth About Freedom:
WRONG THINKING #1: Many people think serving ONESELF is freedom.
The TRUTH is that “freedom” from God is SLAVERY
Romans 6:16 (AMP)
 Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God).
John 8:34 (NIV)
 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
WRONG THINKING #2: Many people think serving GOD is a loss of freedoms.
The TRUTH is that “slavery” to God is FREEDOM from the power of sin (vv. 17-18).
The second word of the Book of Romans is “doulos” (Romans 1:1). But Paul was happy to be a slave, a servant, a “doulos” of Jesus Christ.
“Righteousness” the conduct pleasing to God.
“the standard of teaching to which you were committed” – We are committed (handed over) to the teaching of Christ Jesus like a slave is handed over to his master. The teaching doesn’t belong to us, we belong to it.
Believe It Or Not, Our Freedom Comes With Consequences
- Slavery to sin leads to SHAME (vv. 20-21a).
 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. [21a] What benefits did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?
- Slavery to sin leads to ETERNAL DEATH (vv. 21b, 23a)
[21b] Those things will result in death!
 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
ETERNAL DEATH – The eternal separation from God in hell begins after death.
- Slavery to God leads to HOLINESS (v. 22a).
[22a] But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves of God…
HOLINESS can mean either the state of holiness or the process of sanctification (living that’s increasingly God-centered and world renouncing.
- Slavery to God leads to ETERNAL LIFE (v.v. 22b, 23b).
Eternal Death is a “wage” earned; Eternal life is a “gift” received.
THE SLAVERY OF CHRIST – (Matthew 20:28)
Christ, in a sense, became our slave.
He gave His life as a “ransom” for us so that we could be free. He now asks us to give our lives to Him.
What Jesus has done leads us to what to do: Become SLAVES of Righteousness.
FREEDOM doesn’t mean the absence of rules.
“I am using as example from everyday life because of your human limitations” (v. 19a.).
Paul admits here that slavery is an imperfect illustration of the Christian life, but he uses it because it helps us understand a basic principle:
God is our Master to whom we owe total commitment
The Big Challenge: LET GOD–NOT SIN rule your life.
CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:
Commentary: Proclaiming Freedom by Jim Erwin, July 6, 2013.
Footnotes: My Favorite Illustrations by Herschel H. Hobbs, Nashville, TN: (Bradman Press, 1990).
Dictionary: Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White Jr..
The Interlinear Bible: Romans 1:1 (Strong’s Concordance 1401. Greek Word, “doulos”.
Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or were noted in images.
Images/Photo: Google Image search.