“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves” (1 Peter 2:16 NIV).
All the complex dichotomy of spiritual growth is contained in this simple little verse. Do you want to be free? Embrace your slavery to God.
We often think freedom is the removal of all restraint. Yet, when we wildly engage in every tempting possibility that comes our way, we end up in tighter chains. We become ensnared and addicted to the harmful choices we have made.
Our problem is the inborn deformity passed on to us from Adam. We have a sinful nature.
We don’t like to believe this of ourselves, but we are capable of any and every sin known to man. Given similar circumstances, we could be Hitler. When we let ourselves go, the result will be a downward spiral.
Going wherever our desires drive us is not freedom.
Ask the addict enslaved to drugs, alcohol, porn, sex, shopping, eating, etc. They are not free. Though it initially feels like freedom, indulgence in the forbidden or the excessive results in bondage.
Addictions involve searing the conscience and choosing not to listen to God’s quiet voice, so we can continue to “freely” engage in the pleasure of the addiction. Then, like a bird in a trap, we are ensnared.
Retraining the conscience takes a long time. It takes deliberate effort. I know this firsthand.
A thorough inspection must be made, every behavior evaluated. To find the point where we should have fled rather than embrace, we must unravel our lives, examining each step. We must retrain our thoughts, asking God for the insight and the power to turn away from sin and obey his voice.
This, dear friends, is the life of the slave—one who listens and obeys. Only when we are living as God’s slaves are we truly free from the snares that so easily entangle us. The Greek word here is doulos, one whose will is consumed by the will of another, one bound to another in a position of servitude.
Christ gave his lifeblood for me. When I grasped what he had done, I fell so deeply in love with him that my passion for him now shapes everything I do. As I walked away from my bondage, he freed me from man-made rules and legalistic religious requirements. He placed me in an intimate relationship with him. He gave me freedom to be who I truly am, who he has gifted me to be.
I want to serve him, because I love him. My gratitude for his love, mercy, and presence prompts my heart to desire to obey him. What does this look like? Here are just two examples:
- I am a writer. I could write anything I want. Female porn (50 Shades of Grey, etc.) is selling like hotcakes. I could hide my identity, use a pen name, and write porn. But God sees me, and I love him. My love for Christ compels me to listen to his voice.
- I could put my career ahead of my family. Sometimes I have, but his love in me won’t allow it. I love these dearest people too much. I am shaped by who he is making me to be, a loving person.
Our slavery to God is one of willing submission and response to his shaping of us, the blessings he gives through intimate fellowship, and the testing he uses to refine and strengthen us. This One who loves us so deeply frees us from our addictions. True freedom comes when our ears are attuned to the Master, allowing him to empower our transformation.
How are you finding true freedom in slavery to the Master?
All images except crucifixion: FreeDigitalPhotos.net