Whose Slave Are You?

March 3, 2017

Hello Church,

I pray that you are doing well as you walk with the Lord today in the strength that God providentially provides through the gospel of His grace.[1] How thankful I am for these opportunities to share my heart with you as I seek to further shepherd you to continue striving in your pursuit of God given holiness.[2] It has been a very busy few months of ministry for your pastor as God continues to grow and work in and through our church on multiple levels. Thus, due to time constraints, I have not been able to send you my letters for the last few weeks. Many of you have kindly expressed gratitude for and desire to continue receiving these theological thoughts from your pastor’s heart. Please know that it is fully my desire to continue to encourage and equip both your understanding and personal application of the Word of God, and the God of the Word, through this platform.[3] These letters not only allow me another opportunity to share more Scriptural truth with you, but they also seek to further help you to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.[4] If we are honest, most of us fill our minds with things that really do not matter,[5] but it is imperative upon all of us that we train ourselves in the ability to reason rightly and deeply through learning how to think biblically.[6] I pray that God will use these thoughts from your pastor’s heart, as sifted through the Scriptures, to help us all in this most important endeavor!

Whose Slave Are You?


Last week’s sermon drove us in a direction that sadly, for many people, is both unfamiliar and uncomfortable as we considered the biblical reality of how the metaphor “slave” is a primary picture of the true follower of Jesus Christ.[7] However, this truth has often been clouded by our English versions of the Bible that translate the Greek word that actually means “slave” as “servant.”[8] While I fully understand there are interesting nuances between how the words are used in their context, yet this truth remains:  every slave will serve, but not every servant is a slave. Let me say it very clearly, a servant is hired, but a slave is owned, and the Bible is clear that true followers of the Master are not hirelings[9] but are a treasured possession[10] bought and paid for by the King![11] Moreover, I do not minimize the emotional tension nor the definitional difficulties surrounding a word that could easily point to the undeniable atrocities inseparably linked with the reprehensible history that follows the American and European slave trade. Yet, that complete degradation of life and dehumanization[12] of man was not on the mindset of the biblical authors when they used the word “slave” in painting a picture of a devoted disciple of Christ. Therefore, it is imperative that we seek to gain a clear understanding of what the metaphor meant to its original audience, so that we can rightfully apply it to ourselves in this contemporary cultural, and hopefully last week’s sermon aided you in that pursuit!

However, this metaphor of being a “slave” of God was not an invention of Paul, as the idea permeates the Old Testament being used hundreds of times and even often used as a title of honor for different servants of God.[13] Yet, this picture and understanding of being a slave, one whose person and service belongs wholly to another, gets even clearer as one understands that the reality of salvation is truly a change of ownership as you go from being a “slave” of another to being a “slave of Christ.”[14] While the Bible is crystal clear about this, it often gets foggy in our minds because of our natural, idolatrous propensity to personal autonomy.[15] This was a huge problem on the island of Crete[16] where Titus was left to serve in the manner of a slave, and this continues to be one of the biggest barriers to the gospel in our lives, as we truly do not want to answer to anyone but ourselves![17] Even still, the Scriptures declare emphatically that every man is a slave to sin,[18] often taking on the form of being a slave to pleasures and desires,[19] to the law or self-righteousness,[20] to cosmic powers or elementally principles of this world,[21] to the fear of death which is the power of the devil,[22] and to personal appetites.[23] The Bible is unequivocal that all men are born slaves of sin[24] and ultimately are slaves of Satan and his ways,[25] and this is why Jesus describes unbelievers as children of the Devil![26] So, the question is never if you are a slave, but more specifically whose slave are you?[27]

This is where the glory of the gospel and the greatness of the Master comes in, because where mankind was helplessly ensnared to the shackles of sin, Satan, and this world, God sent His Son to set His people free.[28] That is exactly what salvation does. It sets you free from the domain of darkness, the power of sin, and the eternal penalty rightfully due to all sinners![29] But that freedom is not a license to do whatever you want,[30] but a freedom to finally do what you ought,[31] worship and serve with all that you are the One who made you and bought you.[32] This is one of those paradoxes of the Gospel where you are saved from being a slave for the purpose of being a slave.[33] Was Jesus silent about this? No, Jesus was never silent about His Ultimate Lordship and about salvation finally being the submitting of your life to His definitive authority as He becomes your only Master. It was Jesus who said you can only be the slave of one master.[34] It was Jesus who said that anyone who follows me must be my slave and in so doing must be the slave of all.[35] It was Jesus who said whoever wants to follow me must renounce all that he has to be my disciple.[36] It was Jesus who said that the one who follows me must have what looks like hate for his father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children, and even his very own life as compared to loving Christ![37] It was Jesus who said the one who wants to follow me must take up his cross, meaning die to himself.[38] It was Jesus who said take my yoke upon you because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.[39] It was Jesus who said if you are truly my disciples you will do what I command you.[40] It was Jesus who constantly referred to Himself as a “Master”,[41] and it was Jesus who called people to count the cost of following Him because to follow Christ will cost you everything![42]

The nature of the slavery is in direct proportion to the master, hence the words from the gracious Master that His yoke is easy and His burden is light![43] What a most encouraging blessing if you are a believer to consider that you have been set free from your task master[44] of sin and Satan and have come under the rule and reign of the Good Shepherd. I pray that this will further help you grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ as you seek to faithfully serve the Master.[45] I look forward to worshipping with you on Sunday where we will consider how Paul’s life was radically changed when Christ called him unto Himself.  Also, come prepared for Communion as we will be celebrating the Lord’s Table together, and in light of last week’s sermon on being a slave of Christ, I will be changing how your pastor serves this meal. Greatly anticipating a wonderful day worshipping our Lord together!

Yours for the Master,

Pastor Matt

[1] Col 1:29
[2] Phil 2:12-13
[3] Eph 4:11-16
[4] 2 Cor 10:4-6
[5] Ps 119:37
[6] 1 Tim 4:6-8
[7] Mt 20:27; 25:14-30; Mk 10:44-45; Lk 2:29; 12:27-47; Jn 8:34-36; 15:15-20; Acts 2:18; 4:29; 16:17; Rom 1:1; 6:16-20; 1 Cor 7:21-23; 2 Cor 4:5; Gal 1:10;5:17; Eph 6:6; Phil 1:1; 2:7; Col 4:1; 4:12; 1 Tim 6:1: 2 Tim 2:24; Titus 1:1; 3:3; Js 1:1; 1 Pet 2:16; 2 Pet 1:1; Jude 1:1; Rev 1:1; 2:20; 7:3; 11:18; 15:3; 19:2; 22:3
[8] Titus 1:1
[9] Rom 14:7-12
[10] Titus 2:14; Ex 19:5
[11] Mk 10:45; Col 1:13-14; Acts 20:28; 1 Cor 6:19-20; 7:21-23; 2 Cor 5:14-15; 1 Pet 1:18-19; Titus 2:14
[12] Ex 21:16; Dt 24; Acts 16:16; Col 4:1; Eph 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10
[13] Judges 2:7; PS 104:42; Dan 3:35; Ezek 37:25; Ps 88:4; 119:17,23,38,49,65,76,84,122,124-125, 135,140,176
[14] 1 Cor 6:19-20; 7:21-23; 2 Tim 2:24; Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10; Eph 6:6; Phil 1:1; Rev 2:20; Col 4:7
[15] Lk 15:11-32
[16] Titus 1:10-12
[17] Rom 1:18-23; Rom 3:9-18
[18] Rom 6:16
[19] Titus 3:3
[20] Rom 7:6
[21] Gal 4:3,8
[22] Heb 2:14-15
[23] Rom 16:18
[24] Jn 8:34-38; Rom 6:15-23; Ps 51:3-5; Gen 6:5; 8:21
[25] 2 Tim 2:25-26; Eph 2:1-3; 2 Cor 4:4; 1 Jn 5:19; Mt 13:38; Acts 26:18; Col 1:13-14
[26] Jn 6:70; 8:44; Mt 13:38; Acts 13:10; 1 Jn 3:8-12
[27] 1 Jn 3:8-10
[28] Col 1:13-14; Jn 8:34-36; Isa 61:1; Lk 4:18; 2 Cor 4:4-6; Eph 2:1-10
[29] Rom 6:1-12; 8:1; Col 2:11-15; 2 Cor 5:14-21; 1 Pet 1:18-21; 2:24-25; Jn 3:16-18; 1 Jn 1:9
[30] Rom 6:1-4
[31] 2 Cor 5:14-21
[32] Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 6:19-20; 7:20-23; 10:31; Col 3:17; 3:23-24
[33] Rom 6:16-18; Mk 10:43-45
[34] Jn 6:24
[35] Mk 10:44
[36] Lk 14:33
[37] Lk 14:25-26
[38] Mt 16:24-28
[39] Mt 11:28-30
[40] Jn 8:31; 14:15
[41] Mt 10:16-25; 13:27-28; 24:50; 25:14-30; Lk 12:37-48; 14:17-23
[42] Lk 14:25-33
[43] Mt 11:28-30
[44] Just like Israel was set free from the task masters of Egypt to become slave of God Ex 3:7-12; 19:4-6
[45] 2 Pet 3:18

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