I Am Not a Slave Anymore
Today all around the world there are people who live under secular totalitarian governments such as China and North Korea. If you disobey them, you are sentenced to incarceration in their concentration camps and gulags. Others live in religious totalitarian states such as Iran and most Muslim countries where people must obey the religious leaders or be persecuted or imprisoned. Yet, there are free democratic nations where there are millions of people who are slaves to their own sin, because they do not know the truth of what Christ has done for them. This form of personal slavery is devastating. How about you? Do you know that Jesus has set you free from the penalty and the power of your sin, or do you feel you are fighting a losing battle? I know some of you reading these words right now are struggling with a personal battle with sin. Others of you, at this moment are total and complete slaves to your sin. But God wants you to understand how to overcome the power of sin in your own life so you can be truly free. How can this be, you wonder?
Listen to the promises of Jesus. He said, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone”. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed’” (John 8:31-36). The Pharisees reveal in their response to Jesus how pride had blinded them to the reality of their state when they said, “We are Abraham's descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone.” They had forgotten that they were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt. They had been slaves to Assyria and Babylon, and at the moment that Jesus was speaking these words to them, they were in bondage to Rome. The reason I mention this point is because pride is what keeps a person in self-deception. Don’t let your pride keep you from admitting your need to God. If you refuse to humble yourself, your pride will keep you from the freedom God wants to give you today.
After reading Jesus words, do you know the freedom from sin’s penalty and power today? Real freedom, or as Jesus said, to be “free indeed,” is why Jesus died and rose again. This is the point of the Christian life. God wants you truly free so you can enjoy the life He created you to have. It’s the only way you can fully serve Him.
Before we go any further on this topic of freedom from sin, I want to give you a little clarity on John 8:34, because many read this verse and immediately misunderstand what Jesus was saying. The word commits in this phrase, “whoever commits sin” is in the present tense. This means Jesus was referring to those who willfully and continually practice sin. He is not talking about people who sin and then come to God in repentance asking for forgiveness. Jesus is talking about people who sin and continue to practice sin without any sorrow or repentance. This is the reason why God wants us to be in the practice of continually confessing our sins. In 1 John 1:9, we are promised, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The words confess and is, in this verse are also in the present tense. John is literally saying, if we are continually confessing our sins, He is continually faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Note that John did not say some unrighteousness or just our minor unrighteousness, but all unrighteousness. Continually confessing your sin is such an essential thing, because it reminds you of your need before Him. As you admit your need, He will continually reveal His grace and mercy upon you.
Do you remember what it was like to be a slave of sin?
To truly grasp the significance of being free from sin’s power in your life, it is essential to remember what it was like to be a slave of sin before you came to Christ. I believe as Peter taught that you should never forget that you were once cleansed from your old sins (2 Peter 1:9). Neither did Paul ever forget what he had done before he was saved. He said, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:9-10). In addition, Paul declared of himself, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15).
So, do you remember what you did as a non-Christian and why you lived that way? You were a slave of sin. You did things that you knew were wrong, and your conscience constantly condemned you. You tried to stop doing what was sinful, but you always fell back into your old behavior. You would make a pledge to yourself not to do that sin ever again, only to see yourself doing it again. Then you put a little resolve into your pledge. But, again found yourself failing and experiencing frustration and guilt over your sin all the more. Your fear, anger, or resentments controlled you and ruled your life. There seemed to be no remedy for what you were experiencing. This is what it is like to be a slave of sin!
Paul even experienced this dilemma of fighting with his sin nature as a believer. He was forgiven and made righteous in Christ, but realized that the battle with sin continued. Not as before when he was a non-Christian, but battling the power of sin inside with his desires and thoughts. Paul referred to this battle in Romans 7:15-18. Listen to his words and see if this doesn't resonate with you. He declares, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” Have you experienced this struggle too? I’m sure you have. Why do you do the things that you hate? Why do you think in such corrupt ways? The answer is simple. You have a sin nature that lives inside you, and you have a new nature inside you too. These two natures are at war with each other. You agree in your mind that God’s law and truth are correct, but there is another power working inside you attempting to defeat you at every turn. What is the solution? How can you be free as Jesus promised?
Who is the only one who can set you free from the slavery of sin?
The answer is very simple. God’s complete answer for your sin problem is found in your relationship and fellowship with Jesus Christ. The very moment you received Christ something dramatic happened inside. This is the first step to freedom. It was so dramatic, yet you really didn't fully comprehend what had just happened to you. You knew something had changed, but you really didn’t understand exactly what had taken place. I remember the day after I gave my life to Christ. I knew something was different, but I just couldn't put my finger on what it was. I could not have explained it, if you had asked me. But the Bible says that God had cleansed me from my sin and had given me a new nature. This is what the Bible calls the new man (Eph. 4:24). Peter described this new nature as God’s own divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Why has God given this new nature to us? So, we will naturally want to do what God had commanded us to do. This new nature gives us the desire and willingness to do what He wants us to do. Paul explained in Romans 6:17-18 exactly what happened to us the moment we believed the truth of the Gospel. He said, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” We were all once slaves of sin, but the moment we obeyed the call of God, we were set free from sin and became slaves of righteousness. But this is only the first step in our freedom. As we begin to follow Christ, we realize there is still a problem. That problem is that we still sin and fail. Then we ask ourselves why this is happening to someone who has been set free from sin. It is because we still have a sin nature inside us. Your sin nature loves sin, but your new nature loves righteousness. As long as we live in this fleshly body here on earth, we have to deal with our sinful nature and its desires.
How do you deal with this battle between your two natures? How can you experience the freedom Jesus promised to His disciples? The first ray of light comes to a believer when he or she is filled with the Holy Spirit and freedom is immediately experienced. This is what Paul explained in Galatians 5:16-17. Paul said, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Paul declares here the simple solution to this battle between our two natures. He tells us that it is simply walking in the Spirit. If I will walk under the control of the Spirit (the power of my new nature), I cannot fulfill the lusts of my flesh (my old nature). The word walk in verse 16 is in the present tense, so your surrender to the control of the Spirit must be continual and habitual. If this occurs then you shall not fulfill the lusts and desires of the flesh. The words “shall not” are a double negative in Greek. This is the strongest way for Paul to say that your fleshly desires must yield to the power of the Spirit.
In addition, Paul makes clear that this battle between our two natures will rage on until the day we go home to be with Christ. This is his declaration in verse 17. The words lusts, are contrary, and you wish are all in the present tense, which means that there is a constant battle between these two natures. This is why every believer must be diligent to daily walk in the Spirit. There is no vacation from this battle. This is also why, when we get lazy in our spiritual relationship, we are so likely to fall. If you think that this battle will ever be over this side of heaven, you are kidding yourself! You have to overcome every day you are alive. But don’t forget how you overcome is being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. When you allow the Spirit to rule inside of you, then you will not fulfill the lusts of your flesh! So, the next time somebody offends you, and the fire of anger awakens inside you, ask the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit. The next time your pride or envy or jealousy tries to consume you, quickly surrender to the Holy Spirit and experience freedom. Remember, it is a choice to surrender to the Spirit. It is not something you do to set yourself free. It's something that He does inside of you by His power.
Let me give you an illustration that will make this all clear. Paul says in Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” There are two laws always at work inside of you. There is the law of the Spirit, and the law of sin and death. These two laws correspond to your new nature and your old nature. The law of the Spirit empowers your new nature to enable you to live the Christian life. The law of sin and death results when you yield to your flesh. So, here is my illustration. These two spiritual laws are illustrated by the scientific law of gravity and the law of lift. The law of gravity works every time you jump off the roof of the building. What happens? The law of gravity takes over and you hit the ground. But the law of the Spirit of life is like the law of lift which enables a fully loaded jumbo jet weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds, to lift off of the runway. What enables an airplane to defy the law of gravity and fly? It is simple. It is the application of a higher law than the law of gravity. This higher law is the law of lift. The law of lift works every single time the plane roles down the runway. The law of gravity is superseded by the higher law of lift. This is the same way the law of sin and death is superseded by the law of the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus. It's that simple! Don't make it any more complicated than this. The Holy Spirit works inside you to free you every time you call upon His help.
Why does this process of surrender to the Spirit work?
Let me explain how this all works. The Holy Spirit works to set you free today because of what God has already done at the cross and His resurrection. We have looked at the simplicity of how God sets you free from the slavery of sin by filling you with His Spirit. Now let’s look at the underlying work of God to set you free.
- You need to know and obey the truth.
Let’s go back now to the original verses we started with in this study. Jesus promised in John 8:31-32, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” Most of the time when people talk about getting free from sin, they quote, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” But, just knowing the truth cannot make you free. Why do I say this? Because this sentence is taken out of context. People forget the sentence before. Jesus also said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” This statement is the key to the whole passage. If you want the truth to set you free, then you must be abiding in His word. What does it mean to abide in His word? In John 15:10, Jesus defined for us the meaning of abiding in Him, abiding in His love, and abiding in His word. He said there, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” To abide in Him, to abide in His love, and to abide in His word means, you must obey His commandments. Therefore, to experience freedom from sin as Jesus promised, you must know and obey His word.
- You need to know that your old man was crucified with Christ. Here is the truth you need to know. Paul declared in Romans 6:6-10, “Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing thatChrist, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God” Paul believed it was imperative that you know that your sin nature was (past tense) crucified with Christ. Paul would not have told you to know this truth unless it was absolutely essential. What does this mean to know your old man was crucified with Christ? The word know means to know something experientially. This is the same word used by Matthew to state that Joseph did not know his wife intimately until after Jesus was born to Mary (Matt. 1:25). Therefore, this knowing that Paul emphasizes here is not having head knowledge of this truth, but a personal and intimate knowledge. This experiential knowledge is the difference between knowing in your mind that fire will hurt you if you get too close, and knowing that it hurts after you put your hand in a flame. This word know is also in the present tense which means that you are to continually know this truth and be convinced of it in your heart. In addition, Paul further emphasizes the reality of this truth by comparing it to the death and resurrection of Christ. This fact is just as real as Christ’s death and resurrection. Just as He died, you died also. Just as death has no more dominion over Him, so your old nature has no dominion or control over you. That means you are free, just as He is free!
Now, some of you are thinking that you know this truth. But, many of you only know it intellectually, but you do not know it experientially. The way I know this to be true is that people tell me they know this truth, but they are still struggling and losing the battle with their sin nature on a regular basis. But if you did know this truth you would also be experiencing the freedom that this passage promises. So, if you are struggling and losing the battle with your fleshly desires, I want to encourage you to ask God right now to open your spiritual eyes and to give you a supernatural revelation of this fact, that your old man was crucified with Christ two thousand years ago. Ask Him to reveal to you that He has once and for all conquered your sin nature, and that this means that it is a finished work. God doesn’t have to do anything more for you to be free from the power of sin that once dominated and controlled you. Do you know and are you assured of this fact? Are you completely convinced that your sinful nature was destroyed with Jesus Christ? This word destroyed means to “render inoperative.” It’s like rendering an electric light in your house inoperative by unplugging it from the wall. It is inoperative because you have removed it from its power source. That is the key. Jesus Christ pulled the plug on your old nature and renders it inoperative. The light is still there, just like your sin nature is still inside you, and can be plugged in again if you so choose. But you are free from your sin nature’s control because its power source has been dealt with. You see, the Lord knows exactly how to deal with sin. He didn’t just die for your sins (plural), the fruit of your sinful nature, but He destroyed the source of what generated those sins. Your old nature was crucified with Christ when He was crucified on that tree. He died to sin once, and the old you died right along with Him. He rose once, and you rose right along with Him to become a new creation in Christ.
- The third step in your freedom from sin is that you must reckon and credit this truth to be true, that your old man was crucified with Christ. Paul goes on to say, “Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Rom. 6:11-12). This is a vital truth to obey, otherwise you will be obeying your lusts instead of the Spirit.
What does Paul mean when he commands you to, “Reckon yourself to be dead to sin?” The word reckon is an accounting word which means to credit or account something to your ledger as yours or what is in your inventory. God stamped and credited your spiritual account ledger with His righteousness the moment you believed in Jesus (Rom. 3:21-22). However, in this context Paul is asking Christians to account what God has done to be true. In other words, Paul is saying, “I want you to account or credit that your old man was crucified with Christ, that He has removed from your account the sins you committed, and has also removed you from the control of your sin nature.” To reckon is to choose by faith that this is true by believing what God has said. If you attempt to account this fact by your feelings, it won’t happen. Why? Because it doesn't feel like your old nature is dead. When you get angry or lustful or jealous your old man seems very much alive. It feels like the electric light is still plugged in to the power source. But this is when you must reckon God’s word to be true and not your feelings. Only when you choose to account by faith that God’s Word is true will you experience the reality of this fact. You have actually got to believe in spite of your feelings. When the power of sin rages inside you with the fire of sexual lust, or the feelings of anger or resentment dominate you, your feelings rule. At that point you have to obey the Word in spite of your feelings. You must believe the facts of God’s Word instead of your feelings. You have to believe and reckon what God’s Word declares – you are dead to sin and freed from its dominion and control. If you believe your feelings, they will lie and tell you, you are not dead.
Therefore, to believe and reckon as true the fact that you are dead to sin is simply a choice you make to not obey sin or to allow it to dominate you at that moment. Here is where your real freedom begins. You must recognize this fundamental choice; you will either obey the lusts of your flesh or you will obey God. Don’t let sin reign in your mortal body. Reckoning yourself dead to sin is what it means to put off the old man.
Paul explained these same truths when he exhorted the Colossian church. “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God… Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds” (Col. 3:3-9). Therefore, be assured as Paul taught, you died with Christ and your old sinful nature has been rendered inoperative. Put your evil desires and sinful behaviors to death. Don’t let sin reign inside you anymore! You are free! Stand in faith right now that this fact is true.
- The fourth step in your freedom from sin is when you present yourself to God so that the Holy Spirit can do His work to set you free. Here is another truth you must choose to obey. Paul commanded, “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God”(Rom. 6:13). This word present means to yield to or to give yourself over to. When you present yourself, you are simply surrendering yourself to God. You are yielding yourself to Him, instead of yielding to sin. This is the choice to obey God, not your desires.
Notice that three times you are encouraged to make a choice. He declared, “do not let sin reign in your mortal body, don’t obey its lust, and do not present or yield your members to sin.” This fact reveals that your choice is very important. In addition, all three of these exhortations are in the present tense, which also reveals that your choice must be a continuous decision made every day. Let not, obey not, present not – that’s your choice. Instead, your response should be to present yourself to God. In other words, yield to Him instead of yielding to sin. Here is where your freedom becomes complete. As you yield to God, the Holy Spirit sets you free from the power of sin and transforms your life. Paul explains how this takes place in Galatians 5:16. He taught, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” If you choose to surrender and present yourself to God, the Holy Spirit will fill you and keep you from being controlled by your flesh. This is how you stop sin from reigning in your mortal body. Then as you yield, the Spirit’s power does the rest. Notice how Peter teaches the same thing. He said, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). Remember, you can only obey the truth through the power of the Spirit. He gives you the power to obey and the power to put to death the deeds and desires of your flesh. In Romans 8:13, Paul also taught, “If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” If you want the life of Christ to empower your life, this is how you do it.
Let me summarize the choices you must make.
Choose to abide in and obey His truth. Recognize and believe that your old man (your sin nature) was crucified with Christ. The next time you sense sinful thoughts and desires begin to control your heart and mind, choose to reckon yourself dead to these and alive to God, which is choosing to give Him first place inside of you. Then last, present yourself to God and ask the Holy Spirit to come upon you and set you free! Walk this way every day!
Why are these truths so important for you to implement into your life? Because God intends for you to be free! He doesn't want you bound by any sinful behavior that causes failure and condemnation. He wants you free so you can help others that are bound by sin to get free. You can’t help anybody else get free, if you are not free yourself. That’s impossible! But what is possible, is that He can set anyone free from any sinful attitude or behavior. He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18)! Rejoice in that victory.
I pray, Father, that You would bring each one of us to that place where we will account that your Word is true, and be assured in our own heart that our old man was crucified with Christ, and that we would reckon him dead every time sin seeks to dominate our lives. Fill us now as we present ourselves to You! Set us free from the grip of every sin, any sin that so easily besets us. We open our hearts to You. Do Your delivering work right now! In Jesus Name!