The Misconceptions of SLAVERY and FREEDOM

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.

Jeremiah 34:14

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)

[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.

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.

Romans 6:19

“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)

[16] 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)

[34] 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).

[20] 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!

[23] 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.

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of Whatever

A RESPONSE TO THE WORLD:

270355045_ffe4d7f712That word, “whatever” has become a verbal shorthand to a particular response to life these days.  It’s a sigh of resignation, a denial of meaning and purpose when a person offers you a response of “whatever”.  The response essentially is saying, the topic doesn’t matter–their response doesn’t matter, or perhaps you don’t matter.  Some of us might even proudly wear the badge on our chest.

We’re living in a “WHATEVER WORLD”–

We are living in a culture in which TRUTH has been stripped away and its meaning replaced with personal preference.

My son-in-law says when he asks our grand-kids when they were in their middle teens, “Go and do…” and they would grumble under the breath “WHATEVER-R”, in his mind it was like them using the F-bomb for their reply.

What does a “whatever world” look like?

Even as believers in JESUS, we are living in an age, a culture where ALL IDEAS, ALL LIFESTYLES, ALL BEHAVIORS are considered of equal value.

~ You cheat, I don’t.  WHATEVER–what’s valid for me isn’t necessarily valid for you.

Investigating THE DNA of a Believer–

After our pastor Kyle’s message a few weeks ago:  DNA of a Believer, I decided I would investigate how Scripture often uses “WHATEVER” and as believers, how are we to understand more clearly the responses to the Christian’s Life?

SOME EXAMPLES:

Colossians 3:17:

And WHATEVER you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:23:

WHATEVER you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

1 Peter 4:10:

Each of you should use WHATEVER gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Corinthians 10:31:

So whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Reality Isn’t What It Used To Be–

WORLDVIEW adopted in the western world:  “You can believe WHATEVER you want because… ALL IDEAS are pretty much equal.”

There is no authoritative TRUTH to which we all hold; each person becomes his or her own authority, determining our own values, our own beliefs, our own truth.  The Barna Research Group, through its surveys, show the results of the thinking worldview:

“WHATEVER-R”

~ Three-fourths of all adults believe [think] “there is no such thing as absolute truth; two people could define truth in totally conflicting ways, but both could still be correct.”   WHATEVER-R-R! 

~ Less than half of all born-again adults (44%) and less than 10% of born-again teenagers (9%) believe in the existence of absolute moral truth.  WHATEVER-R-R!

~ Nearly half of adult Americans (47%) believe that “to get by in life these days, sometimes you have to bend the rules for your benefit”:  If that’s the attitude of their parents, is it any wonder, some 70% of American teenagers today admit cheating on exams and don’t see anything wrong with it?  WHATEVER-R-R!

[The Year’s Most Intriguing Findings from Barna Research Studies @ from Barna Research Online]

Our Spiritual DNA Makeup Begins In Our “Thinking”:

REMEMBER:  You’re not what you think you are, but what you think…you are! 

As Proverbs 23:7 reads,  “For as he thinks in his heart so is he.”  What you THINK today, you become tomorrow.  Your spiritual DNA is developed from the body, soul and spirit.  Or as someone has said:  “Your ‘know-er, your think-er, and your feel-er’.”   

If you think you can’t, you probably won’t.

If you think angry thoughts, angry words are sure to follow.

If you fill your mind with sexual fantasies, your body will find a way to fulfill those desires.

If you dwell on your problems, they will soon overwhelm you.

If you feel like a victim, soon you will become one.

“GIGO” Almost a generation ago!

The computer revolution had just begun, the pioneers in the field coined a brand-new word when not many people knew how to operate a computer and those who did made many mistakes.

Sometimes the “experts” entered the wrong data to discover a universal TRUTH:  If the raw data is bad, the computer can’t do anything good with it.  Whatever you put into a computer determines what comes out.  If you put the right data in, the right answers come out.  The reverse is also true.

To express that TRUTH, a new word was coined describing in four letters, both the cause and the consequences.  Most computer “geeks” know what word I’m talking about: GIGO; Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Those four letters summarize a huge TRUTH about computers:  What you put in determines what you get out.  If you input garbage, guess what your output will be?  GARBAGE!

Your “Thinker”–

What is true of computers is also true of the human mind–the “thinker”.  The human mind has often been compared to the computer.  In fact, the human mind is far more complex than the most advanced computer ever designed.

GIGO
GIGO

BUT, the BASIC PRINCIPLE of GIGO is still TRUE:  Garbage In, Garbage Out.  What you put into your mind; what you believe, determines what you get out.

Is our thought process, our THINKING, really so unimportant; Our Spirit of Whatever?

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Beware of what you set your mind on because that you surely will become.”

Norman Vincent Peale :  “Change your thoughts and you change the world.”

Henry Ford gave that TRUTH a spin when he said,  “Thinking is the hardest work in the world, which is why so few people engage in it.”

I ran across this perceptive comment by Betty Sachelli during my Word Detective investigation this past week:

“Two thoughts cannot occupy the mind at the same time.”

So the choice is ours; how we respond to society, whether or not our thoughts will be constructive or destructive to the hearer.  It is a world in which life has no meaning beyond personal fulfillment with no values higher than my own choices.

Can Christians, Should True Believers, Be The  ULTIMATE AUTHORITY in Determining Right and Wrong?

It is easy to reach the stage in today’s lifestyles where there is no wrong–at least not for me.  But if we recognize there is a GOD who stands over us, that through JESUS, He wants to enter into RELATIONSHIP with us…then it changes the way WE THINK; it changes the way we determine OUR VALUES, OUR PRIORITIES, OUR COMMITMENTS, OUR “WHATEVERS”.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”  (Matthew 22:37)

The Old Testament passage (Deuteronomy 6:5) behind JESUS’ statement in Matthew is a little different; it says to love GOD with heart, soul and strength.  So why did JESUS instead use the word “mind”?  Perhaps to remind us that it is essential to bring our minds under the authority and Lordship of our Father in Heaven.  Otherwise our FAITH would make little impact on us or anyone else we come in contact with.

The way we THINK determines the way we live and the results of The Spirit of Whatever in our doing.

THE “WHATEVER” MEANING IN THE BIBLE–THE WORD:

Colossians 3:12, 17:

[12] Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones, purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tender-hearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper].

[17]  And WHATEVER you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, DO EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.

“WHATEVER” means “that absolutely everything…” in RELATIONSHIP:  

How’s Your Thought-Life As a Christian Believer?

 According to some psychologists, the average person has over 10,000 separate thoughts each day; 3.5 million thoughts a year and if you live to be 75, you’ll have over 26 million different thoughts.  Everyone of those 10,000 thoughts represents a choice you make and a decision to think about this, and not about that.

The words that dwell in your hearts and minds (Colossians 3:16); as you TEACH and TRAIN others.

As wives relate to their husbands (verse 18);

As husbands treat their wives (verse 19);

As children respond to their parents (verse 20);

As fathers bring up their children (verse 21);

As employees react and respond to their employers (verse 22);

“WHATEVER may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the LORD and not for men”  (Colossians 3:23 AMP).

 How’s Your Thought-Life As a Christian Believer?

THE TRUTH IS POSITIVE:

The 14th Chapter of John’s gospel, JESUS made a most astonishing statement when He said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

And if it is the TRUTH, then it makes the difference in the kind of world in which we live.  If JESUS is Himself TRUTH, it changes everything!

It means...HE IS TRUTH FOR YOUR MIND.

THE WAY WE THINK determines the way we live.  If we THINK of ourselves as the ultimate authority in determining right from wrong, then it is easy to reach the stage where there is no wrong–at least not for me.

HE IS THE TRUTH FOR YOUR LIFE–not only does Christ provide the TRUTH but helps us understand [the “know-er” in our DNA] REALITY.  He also provides the TRUTH and allows us to live lives of meaning, purpose and fulfillment.

In our “WHATEVER-R” CULTURE–

Each person is an authority unto himself and God’s Word is overlooked or ignored by untold millions.

News reports tell the tale of what happens when we IGNORE God’s TRUTH for our own:

A NATION where Gideon bibles are turned away at the schoolhouse door but…condoms are freely handed out.

A NATION where millions of children grow up in homes WITHOUT two parents.

A NATION where we can’t physically build prisons fast enough to accommodate the growing population of inmates.

How does all this happen in a NATION where, at least on the surface, it would appear that a large percentage of the population claim to be Christian believers?

A MAJOR part of the problem is too many of us take the religious dimension of our lives and put it into a neat little compartmentalized box–to be pulled out only on Sundays.  The rest of the week we tend to get along and go along with the world without letting our FAITH inform us in our day-to-day lives; at the office, the shop, the school, the neighborhood.

Your FAITH isn’t one more item to put on the To Do List.  You and I are called to let our commitment to Christ shape and guide everything we do in every facet of our lives.  It is the TRUTH from which everything else flows.

THE PRESCRIPTION FOR TRANSFORMING YOUR LIFE:

Listen to the apostle Paul’s practical advice in Philippians 4:8:

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This verse gives us eight questions to ask about our thoughts before you think; before you speak.

#1.  Is it TRUE?  “Whatever is true”.  TRUTH is the first test.

“All that rings true” — by Knox.  

Before you open your mouth, are you speaking the TRUTH?  Do your words have a “ring of truth” about them?  If the answer is Yes, then it rules out all that is dishonest, untrue, and unreliable.

#2.  Is it NOBLE?  “Whatever is noble”. 

The word means “honorable”, “worthy of reverence”.  One person translated it as “noble seriousness”.

#3.  Is it RIGHT?  “Whatever is right”.

This means “In conformity to God’s standards.”  Not, “Is it right in my eyes?” or “Is it right in the eyes of others?” but, “Is it right in God’s eyes?”  If others knew what you were thinking, what would they think of you?

#4.  Is it PURE?  “Whatever is pure”.

The word means “undefiled, chaste, clean, holy.”  It touches the whole area of moral purity.  Is your thought-life clean?  We used to say, “Get your mind out of the gutter.”  If you LIKE the gutter, don’t be surprised that your mind is covered in slime!

#5.  Is it LOVELY?  “Whatever is lovely”.

This word is used only here in the New Testament.  It literally means “love towards” and has the idea of attracting loveliness, as a magnet attracts iron filings.  One person translates “those things that GRACE attracts.”

Do your thoughts automatically attach themselves to that which is beautiful and lovely?

Here is a simple rule I try to follow in my life with the Holy spirit’s help; I can’t do it with my own will-power and neither will you:

IF it is not lovely,  IF it doesn’t make me lovely…don’t say it, don’t think it, don’t do it, don’t dwell on it, and don’t repeat it!

#6.  Is it ADMIRABLE?  “Whatever is admirable”.

That is, if the television program, magazine cover in the grocery check-out counter I’m watching or glancing at…WORTHY of study and meditation?  Or is it cheap and vulgar?

This question asks us to focus on the things that are positive not negative, constructive not destructive, things that build up not the things that tear down.  This means editing your words, your choices so that you simply DELETE non-admirable things from your vocabulary; “Your Words Determine Your Thinking”  (Step #2 in 8 Steps to Your Destination by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar).

If that’s not enough questions, the Apostle Paul gives us two catch-all categories:

“If anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY”

EXCELLENT refers to virtue and PRAISEWORTHY means “those things that God Himself would approve.”

 So here you have TWO FINAL QUESTIONS:

#7.  Is it morally EXCELLENT?

#8.  Is it something that God would approve?

Taken together, these EIGHT QUESTIONS point the way toward positive thinking.  Paul says, “Think on these things.”  

A.  It is a command.

B.  It is in the present tense.  

C.  Keep on focusing your thoughts on these eight areas.

D.  Find the virtuous, the moral, the holy things and think about it.

“Just Do It” with a Promise–

Verse 9 of Philippians 4 tells us that if we “Practice what you have learned and received…and model your way of living on it”–here comes the PROMISE,  “the God of peace will be with you.”  

The Online Dictionary defines PRACTICE:  To do or perform something habitually or repeatedly.  Synonyms–exercise, rehearse.

The Spirit of Whatever when practiced, will experience God’s peace in their lives.  “PRACTICE makes perfect”!