All Christians are Slaves - But to What?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 6.7 billion people in the world. According to Romans 6, all of them are in slavery.

In Romans the apostle Paul writes about two forms of slavery. Neither is the form we are most familiar with, “a legal system facilitating exploitation of labor” (wikipedia definition), and such slavery in human history and throughout the world today is truly horrible. But there are other forms of slavery, and Paul writes about two in Romans 5-8. The first is slavery to sin, and the second is slavery to God.

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer myslef who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature…Now if I do what i do not want to do, it is no later I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:14-20

Perhaps you have felt like that - like you have sin in your life that you cannot stop doing. You are right. The truth is, in your own power you cannot stop. Paul reveals an important truth here. We think of “sins” as bad things we do against God’s commands. Paul is explaining that it is more than that…”sin” (singular) lives in us. This is also called the “sinful nature.” Each human being was born into slavery to sin. We cannot control it. It is master over us. Society passes laws against stealing, murder, rape and such to restrict us from the worst of our sinful nature, but we still covet, hate, and lust. This is why Pauls sums up this revelation with these words, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

While billions of people who have not received Christ’s gift of salvation are living in slavery to sin, many Christians are as well. Many have not recognized the clear choice that Paul describes in Romans. As Christians, we have a choice- slavery to sin, or slavery to God.

“Don’t you know that when you offer yoursleves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the own whom you obey- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). He goes on to say, “Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurities and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.”

Many Christians feel like they can just “stop sinning” but don’t really have to give their lives over to God. But the truth is that you can’t stay in neutral. Either you are a slave to the sin nature inside of you, or you are committed to seeking first the Kingdom of God and His rightousness, and learning how to overcome sin through the power of Holy Spirit (which by the way is revealed to us in Romans 8). If you think you can get rid of sin and all of the bad effects that go along with it without yielding your heart and life to Jesus and choosing to be a “slave” to God, then you are deceiving yourself and will only continue year after year as a slave to the same sins because of your sinful nature.

So why choose slavery to God? It is a major decision- perhaps the most important one after the decision to receive Jesus’ gift of salvation. Some believers make this decision at the same time they receive Christ as Savior, but for many Christians it is a separate decision that they either never make (and continue in sin for many years), or make some time after becoming a Christian. All I can say is making that decision- whether you call it “giving your life to Christ” or “making Jesus Lord of your life” or becoming a “slave of God” - is the first step on a journey God will take you on to righteousness and a better way of life.

For me, it was a decision I made several years after becoming a Christian. One simple verse spoke volumes to me one day “the very hairs of your head are numbered” (Luke 12:7). I realized I have no idea how many hairs are on my head, much less having them numbered. But God knows more about me than I know about myself. Once I realized that, I realized that He knows what is best for me, too. I began to realize that the “rules” of the Bible were not because God did not want me to have any fun, but really were to protect me from living a second-rate life. God’s Way of living is far beyond a life I can create for myself. Once I realized that, the decision to serve God with my life seemed the logical choice for me, and it has been a journey with God ever since. I still have a long way to go, but it is wonderful to look back and realize all that God has done in my life over the years.

You, too have a choice as a Christian - to serve sin or serve God. If you decide to become a slave of God instead of a slave of sin, you have chosen wisely. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”