This next portion of scripture can be some what difficult for us to really understand fully. I think it is hard because we have such a negative view of slavery, and rightly so. God forbid we as Americans ever let such a savage, atrocity ever happen again.
In fact, my daughter this week had to do a paper on the "The Middle Passage". The middle passage was the portion of the process of bringing the slaves to America. It was completely horrible what people did to other human beings. I tried to get across to my oldest daughter the horror that slaves went through; but there are no words for me to describe my anger regarding such a treatment of men, women and children. Humans literally stacked in rat, lice and disease infected boats....humans feed to sharks....humans chained and beaten. There is no excuse for ever treating any human like the slaves were treated on those boats and with their masters.
Paul used slavery to help the reader to understand a deep spiritual truth. Putting slavery in a right perspective in this portion of scripture can be difficult. We are all slaves to one of two things, God or Sin; there is no other option.
Slaves to Sin
Living a life of sin is as though you are slave to it. It controls you; it has its way with you. We are chained to it. Sin/Satan is your Master and we all willingly serve it/him. Satan, the Master, has come to kill, steal, and destroy you, much like how slaves coming to America were treated. He does not care about you; he hates you.
John 10:10 (New King James Version)
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
But unlike those African slaves sadly, more often than not, we love it, we worship it and we choose this type of slavery. Remember, being a slave to sin will lead us to death, eternal death. Oh the horror on judgment day when those who choose to be slaves to sin realize their fate.
12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.
Slaves to God
Now here is were we have a hard time understanding being a slave to God. Here is the irony, when we choose righteousness our shackles are removed....we are free.
To become slaves of God is really choosing freedom. We are no longer bound to sin. We no longer have to feel shame for God gives us the power to overcome the things that use to bind us. We are forgiven. We freely make a covenant to serve a loving Master. Our new Master gives us life, love and hope. He has our best interest at heart. The scripture clearly expresses that this does not give us freedom to sin....No...we are to live a life of holiness an act of love to our new master.
The Bible really shows him more like a loving Father who welcomes us home. I think it is easier to stomach that then to be a slave. But I think when we look at this portion of scripture the Holy Spirit really illuminates this idea of slavery to God as being for our good...eternal life.
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.I choose freedom; I choose to be a slave to God!