For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God... Romans 8:15-16
I grew up quite religious. I went to a religious school, and literally won the “Religion Award” eight of the nine years I attended. To me, being a Christian meant following all the rules: not doing anything bad, and trying to do or be good.
However, there was an aspect of being the “good kid” that troubled me. It’s that I wasn’t actually very good. I knew enough about the “rules” to understand that I was breaking them regularly.
It got worse as I grew older, until eventually I gave up any pretense of even trying. Odds are, whatever you’ve done, I’ve probably done it too. Sex, pornography, alcohol, drugs, materialism, arrest record—all the usual suspects. I eventually became a slave to the things that I wanted the freedom to pursue. As a young adult living in Dallas, TX, I would still go to church occasionally. I went out of obedience and superstition. I was almost always hung over from the night before, and felt terrible—both because of the hangover, and because it was a reminder of how hopelessly far I had fallen. I had been a slave to keeping the rules and now I was a slave to breaking them. Slavery, of any kind, is no fun.
There is an anecdotal story of man in the 1800s who went down to the auction block as slaves were being auctioned off. A young woman stood shackled and chained in the middle of the block as the people bid for her. The man did also. He continued to bid, and eventually won her as his property. He went to claim her, and as he unchained her, he said:
“Young lady, you are free.”
She said “Free? What do you mean free? Am I free to do whatever I want to do?”
“Yes, ma’am. You are free to do whatever you want to do,” he replied.
“Am I free to say whatever I want to say?” she asked.
“Yes, you are free to say whatever you want to say”, he answered.
“Am I free to go wherever I want to go?” she asked with tears of hope forming in her eyes.
“Yes, you are free to go wherever you want to go”, he told her.
With tears now streaming down her face, she said, “then, Sir, I will go with you.”
The story I heard ends there, but here’s the next scene as this relates to us and The Father. He would say, “Ok, if you go with me, then I will lead you to the freedom of life everlasting. Every instruction I give you will be for your good. You can follow me with joy, knowing that I want the very best for you. You are now my child.”
You are God’s child, not God’s slave. It is very important that we understand how this relationship works so that we reap the full benefit of knowing The Father through The Son.
Slavery says, “do what I ask for my benefit”. Sonship says, “do what I ask for your benefit.”
Slavery says, “work the estate out of obligation.” Sonship says, “work the estate, because it will be your estate.”
Slavery says, “do what I say or else you will be harmed.” Sonship says, “do what I say and you will be blessed.”
If we go to God solely out of obedience we are more slaves than sons and daughters. Spiritual maturity is not just knowledge of and obedience to God, but also the enjoyment of Him. This is the freedom that Christ offers.
Yes, there are places where the scripture calls us slaves to righteousness. This is the powerful idea that we have received the righteousness of God. Here’s what that means, you don’t have to be afraid. Listen closely beloved, you can stop living in fear. Fear of man. Fear of being found out. Fear of being punished by God. He has called you His son, His daughter. So, as you walk in relationship with Him, you are free to confess sin openly. It no longer has power over you. The penalty for your sin fell on Christ. You can live with the hope of being with God forever as His child, and one day soon you will be in His Kingdom without the presence of sin.
Your application today is to confess sin, because you are no longer a slave to it. Tell someone what you’ve done and how you are struggling. Ask them to pray for you (James 5:16), and pursue healing.
You’re no longer a slave to fear. You are a child of God.