Sinners, Servants, or Sons? Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Third, they have a false sense of freedom. They really weren’t free, because there were boundaries to their freedom. They weren’t free politically, since a Roman army occupied the country. And, they didn’t have freedom in their worship of God, because of the 613 laws they believed to be God’s Law. Then, there were the rituals, customs, and traditions that had to be observed if they wanted to please God. No, they were not free in any sense of the word.
Folks, that’s one of the reasons Jesus came; to free us from the Law. And He also died for our sins, so we could be reconciled to God by faith in Him.Jesus paid the price to purchase freedom for all of sin’s slaves.
Max Lucado tells of a young man who approached his pastor at the close of a worship service and asked, “What can I do to find peace in my life?” The wise minister replied, “I’m sorry, but you’re too late.” The distraught man was baffled. He said, “You mean I’m too late to find peace? You mean I’m too late to be saved?” The pastor answered, “No, you’re just too late to do anything about it. Jesus did everything that needed to be done two thousand years ago.” The beauty of God’s gracious atonement is that Christ did it all. We must simply accept it.
We have looked at the nature of the sinful life, so now--Let’s look at the nature of the Servant’s life as described in Romans 6:16-20.
Paul says that everyone is a servant of something and it’s possible to be a servant of the Lord. Verse 16 says, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves, slaves, to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” When Jesus says, “Do you not know,” we can be sure He believes we do not know, and we need to know. Then He says, “To whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey.” Every person who is living is a bondservant to someone or something. A person can even be a bondservant to Satan himself. Because of our very natures, we are a bond slave to somebody or something.
Look at the role of a servant. A servant is obedient and does what he or she is told. Paul said that the one who is our master is the one whom we obey. If you obey sin, then that is your master. Anyone who lives in sin cannot say that Christ is their master, because He is not. But if He is your Master, He brings you into a place of liberty. “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” according to John 8:36.
But, what is it we are free to do? We are free to live for Him and free to obey Him. And the Lord said again, “…Verily, verily, I say unto you. Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” A servant obeys his master but he also lives in fear of displeasing his or her master. A famous person once said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.” God doesn’t want us to obey Him simply because He may chastise us, from time to time for doing wrong. Rather, He wants us to obey Him because we love Him and want to please Him. It’s good for us to know that a servant is rewarded for well-doing and punished for wrongdoing. The type of fear Paul is talking about is a reverential type of fear that expresses love and respect for God.
Finally, a servant lives outside of the Father’s house and has limited provisions. The servant is saved, but hasn’t yielded himself to the will of God. Therefore, he hasn’t received the benefits of sonship.
We have seen the nature of the sinful life and the servants life, so now let’s look at the nature of the son’s life as described in 2 Corinthians 6:13-18). Let’s begin by examining the position of the son’s. That’s found in Romans 8:15-17.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
The sons have an absolute confidence because of their relationship with their Father. There’s a contrast to be drawn here between the life of a servant and the life of a son. When Paul says that we have not received the spirit of bondage, he is saying that when the Spirit of God dwells in us we are not treated by God as servants, but as sons. We don’t fear God in the same way the slave fears his masters. Rather, we love Him as a son loves his father. The slave does what his master’s command, because he knows he will be punished if he doesn’t. But for those in whom the Spirit of God dwells, there is no element of fear that can interfere with his service for the Lord. He serves the Lord like a son lovingly serves his adoring father.
Paul tells us, “You (have) received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The son is on entirely different footing than the servant. In the first century A.D., the adopted son was one who was deliberately chosen to carry on the name of his father and inherit his estate. He was not at all inferior to a natural born son. In the same way, when the Holy Spirit dwells within us, our relationship to God the Father is such that we may address Him as freely as we would our own father. We can be absolutely confident in our new relationship with the Father.
Verse 17, tells us that all of the resources of the Father are available to the sons. We read, “And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” Since we are no longer servants but sons, we are rightfully the heirs of God. But more than that, we share in the inheritance of Christ, because we will inherit by grace the glory which is His by right.
Folks, sinners, and servants don’t have the confidence that sons and daughters of God have. Therefore, they may want to know, “How can we be sure that we are the children of God?” Because we take God at His Word and we have the ever-present Spirit of God dwelling within us to give assurance that we are indeed the sons and daughters of God. As His children, we look at the world a bit differently when our lives are receptive to His commands. The spirit of adoption, or sonship, enables us to enter into a relationship with God the Father that the unbeliever can never experience.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:13-18 how to be a son. Verse 13 says, “Open your heart to what I say”. Paul is speaking for God. When he says something, it’s the same as if God said it. He wants us to listen to what follows.
Verse 14 says, “Separate yourself from the world.” Paul here is making an appeal to the Corinthian believers to make a clean break with Idolatry. He wants them to make a break from the sins of the flesh. They are to be separated from the worldliness that’s in the world. Today we use the term, “separated believers.” There are many folks who consider themselves to be “separated believers” who are actually as worldly as can be. The only way to be “separated believers” is to let Him fill you with Himself.
All believers have the Spirit of God, but all believers are not filled with the Holy Spirit. There’s a big difference. There’s a good example from the book, “Foxe’s Christian Martyrs of the World” that shows the power of a Spirit-Filled life. From Acts 12:2, we know that Herod beheaded the apostle James, the brother of John; but do you know the rest of this story?
James was the first apostle to suffer death after the martyrdom of Stephen. Although Herod was the authority that took his head, James’s fate started when a nameless individual brought charges against him before the tribunal. When the case was over and James had been condemned to death, the man who had instigated the trial was deeply moved by the behavior and faith of the apostle. James was so filled with the Spirit of God that on the way to the place of execution the one who had initiated the charges against him made a confession of faith in Christ. When he asked James to forgive him, the apostle said, “Peace be to thee, brother.” James then kissed him and both men were beheaded for their faith in 36 A.D. A Spirit-filled life may lead to physical death, but more importantly, it always leads to eternal life.
It is our glorious privilege to be the sons and daughters of God. This is not a difficult condition but a happy one. Just like the apostle James, we may someday face persecution for our faith in Christ. We can be sure that faith in God will eventually cost us something, but we can say as the apostle Paul did, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” We can say it if we have allowed God to fill us with His Spirit. Everyone chooses the life of sin, servanthood or sonship. Which will you choose?