You are a slave to anything you can’t (or won’t) stop thinking about.
By definition, the person to whom you are enslaved has power over you. Spiritually speaking, we all enter this world as slaves to sin (Romans 3:23), “following the prince of the power of the air,” Satan (Eph. 2:1).
Slave masters are very careful to guard against uprisings and rebellion amongst their slaves. They use tools such as shackles, chains, and whips to ensure that no slave escapes their control.
Satan is no different. The person enslaved to sin has no power to liberate themselves. Their only hope is an outside liberator –one who has power over sin.
Of course, the only person who has the power to free us from the chains of sin is Christ Jesus.
Herein lies a beautiful paradox: Freedom from sin is only found by becoming a slave to Christ.
Paul states it this way in Romans 5:17-18:
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
It is important to notice the difference between the two slaveries Paul speaks of. The slavery to sin was not chosen. Before slavery was outlawed in the United States, if a child was born to slave parents, that child –by no choice of its own- was born into slavery. In the same way, spiritually speaking, none of us chose to be born into sin. Still, we were all there in Adam during the fall. None of us can escape our sin heritage.
But slavery to Christ and His righteousness is different. Instead of being born into Christ, we are re-born into Christ. We enter salvation by faith –not fate.
Whereas we had no choice but to be born into sin, Christ offers us an opportunity to choose freedom from sin.
One may ask, “but why must I become a slave to Christ –why can’t I simply be a completely autonomous being?” The answer is simple –we were created to serve Christ and to find our utmost freedom and joy in Him!” Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as complete spiritual autonomy. Like Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve somebody.”
This is not a forced slavery, but instead a chosen slavery. It is much like indentured servitude –a voluntary service to a master.
This is a wonderful contrast from slavery to sin for several reasons:
1) Whereas Satan worked to destroy you, Christ works to sanctify you.
2) Whereas Satan will betray you, Christ will never leave you or forsake you.
3) Whereas Satan is the father of lies, Christ is the truth.
Practically speaking, as a child of God, you have the wonderful benefit of a master who loves you and fights for you. Jesus is a master who cares for his own and protects them.
So when you find yourself tempted to return to your old master –whether it is through your thoughts, actions, attitudes, or desires, remember; Christ is your refuge and freedom. In the midst of your struggle run to him for protection –he alone has the power over sin and death. Cling to him.
Flirting with temptation, or ignoring temptation is never fruitful because you cannot remain neutral. For that reason, when temptation comes, your best move is to run to your master of righteousness and freedom. Submit to him. Pour your efforts and energy into prayer and supplication.
In verse 19, Paul says it this way, “ For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”