UCAN sharing: Slaves

Scripture: Romans 6:15-22

Slave: def.: a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another. (

36  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. Jn. 8:36

Man has a long history of slavery. People who were conquered often became slaves as a spoil of war. In the time of the Roman Empire slavery was a common practice and it was naturally understood that once a slave always a slave. A person who became a slave had very little hope of ever tasting freedom. Under Roman law the master could if they wanted have the slave killed. This reflects one of the key characteristics of slavery, the loss of one’s rights. As a slave you were seen as a piece of property, just like a car or phone today. No one would tell you what to do with your things and expect you to listen. So it was for slaves under Roman rule. Today slavery is still present though in different forms as many still suffer humiliation and physical abuse as man continues to seek to oppress and control others. There exists one kind of slavery that is totally different from man’s destructive version. This slavery is in fact uplifting and fulfilling. It has no form of over lording or control. It actually sets a person free from the very things that bind that person and make them unable to experience life abundant. Where is this kind of slavery found? Only in the unconditional love of God.

It is hard to look on slavery in human terms and find any redeeming value. A slave by definition has lost all their freedom. They are told what and when to do and they must do it or suffer punishment. This includes any task which may be disgusting or humiliating. It also implies that a person can be treated like a machine and be required to labor long hours for nothing. Add to the loss of freedom the stripping of one’s human rights and slavery becomes a reality filled with suffering and the loss of one’s dreams and hopes.

When we speak of slavery it is easy to dismiss the subject seeing that the vast majority of us have never been slaves. We have no life reference point from which to judge from so we can’t understand what the lack of freedom and rights can be like. This view is so natural it is hard for us to conceive of willingly giving ourselves over to being a slave. Not many a person would stand up and say I want to be a slave. Yet when we speak in the spiritual sense this is what we may do as Christians. To understand this we need to see that man is born a slave already. Even if a person is wealthy, well-educated and healthy they are still a slave if they are without God. We are slaves because we are all born in to the kingdom of Darkness. In this state we know no righteousness; we are incapable of living righteously. Our nature leads us to seek to do what pleases us and disregard God and his ways. This is sin and sin as it matures brings death (James 1:15).

Whether it be a liar or adulterer, gossiper or thief we find that what is good we don’t do. We are slaves to sin and sin keeps man separated from God’s presence.

Jesus answered them, Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. Jn 8:34

Jesus had to explain this to the religious people of the time because they thought that because they held to their traditions, or what they preferred to believe that they were right with God. This has never been the case as Jesus went on to explain in verse 35. “And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. In this Jesus is saying that man even with all their good works can’t be with God because we remain as a slave to sin. Sin is the only thing that can separate us from God’s presence. Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you.

When people in the world reject Jesus they are choosing to remain slaves to sin. Their lives will reflect this in the fruit they bear. Their lives will be marked by a strong emptiness and a hunger for their lustful desires accompanied by an inability to understand truth and receive it. The enemy will have total access to them and control over their lives and they won’t even know it. Worst of all they are objects of God’s wrath that will be poured out on judgment day. Despite this multitudes turn away from God to embrace the false freedom of this world.

Once again we may find ourselves dismissing spiritual slavery as something non-believers have to deal with but this is not so as Romans 6 is written to believers. Romans chapter 6 speaks of choice and people in the world without God have no choice but to remain slaves. But a believer who says they believe in the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ does. God on salvation doesn’t take away our free will but rather empowers us to live right before Him by filling us with His Holy Spirit who guides and convicts us. As we listen to God and yield to Him we can live a totally new life. We can be freed of ourselves, the desires and lusts in us, that lead us to sin and be separated from God. God has made a way for us to experience Him and the freedom in Him. Jn. 8:36

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

17  Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Cor. 3:17

Jesus is pointing to a far greater power than religion or traditions. He is pointing to Himself and the relationship that can be had if one chooses to surrender daily to God and be obedient by faith. Note that it is Jesus who makes a person free not what we do. Jesus sets us free so that by removing our sin we can go to the Father. This is the ultimate goal of salvation that we may know the Father and Jesus and be with them forever gaining eternal life (Jn. 17:3). Why? Because this is the highest form of life that exists.

For the average Christian this is not a reality. We struggle all the time with sin and fall in and out of the presence of God (Rom. 7:14-19). The reason is that we don’t understand grace and the life that God has given us so we try to do that life ourselves only to return to being slaves under the law. When the American Civil War ended President Abraham Lincoln declared all slaves free. It was made official and there was no more slavery in America. In practice through many slaves remained in slavery. They were lie to by the masters who didn’t want them to be free (satan to us) and though they were free they had no idea what a life of freedom is like so they remained slaves (Christian who is not freed). We too can remain in slavery if we fail to surrender all of ourselves to God’s will and learn to obey so that we remain with Him and grow accustomed to living free. Instead many will continue to try to do our salvation by our reasoning and never be totally set free (Rom. 6:17-18).

Only God can set us free but we must receive this freedom by faith in the works of Jesus on the cross. When we really believe we will stop laboring to get in and begin living as we are in God’s kingdom and have been made a son or daughter. The key is obedience and this form of obedience comes by love. We are still slaves but our new master is God the Father and he chooses to set us free and make us holy and right. It is crucial we see that if we hold to our old lives we go back to being slaves of this world. The door of the cage is open but we won’t leave the cage. All the habits and temptations will have sway over us if we are not freed from them. But as we keep holding on and living for God our freedom produces a harvest of joy, peace and righteousness.

If you have been struggling with sin as a Christian a long time and losing; if you are tired of working to be good and do all the things God says we should; if you lack the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and are not growing consistently then it is likely you are in bondage of some sort. Begin by recognizing that if you live by your way you will be a slave to darkness. Confess to God that you have done this and seek His forgiveness for your life apart from Him. Ask Him to lead you in righteousness and set you free. Choose to start obeying God and his word. This begins by giving yourself daily to him that he may carry you through the day. As God leads you will experience more and more freedom. You need never be a slave again.

Additional resources:

Book: Gilted Prison by Ps Hedgecock; describes how cunning lies keep us bond to the darkness till Jesus sets us free.


No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, Bethel music

I am Free by Newsboys; Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture; Chain Breaker, Zach Williams