We live in a culture that values freedom. I once heard a lecturer say that the ultimate definition of success is self-expression. He told his audience that they were in control of their own lives and therefore they should pursue what they wish. That idea sharply opposes Scriptural teaching. The following verses teach that we are all slaves. The question is not, “Are you a slave?” Rather, the question is, “Are you a slave to sin or to Christ?”
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31–36, ESV)
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 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. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. 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. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:16–23, ESV)
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16, ESV)
“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19, ESV)
In this poem I seek to capture the teaching of those verses. It can be sung to the tune of Frances R. Havergal’s familiar hymn “Take My Life, And Let It Be” (that tune was written by Henri A. C. Malan).
Living, acting, like we’re free,
Living, looking out for me,
Being free, we’re slaves of sin,
Enslaved by what rules within,
Enslaved by what rules within.
As we serve Christ we are free,
We are free through slavery.
Christ in love has made a way,
If we will his word obey,
If we will his word obey.
Enslaved by who we obey,
Who do we live for today?
Slaves of sin find poverty,
Slaves of Christ find victory,
Slaves of Christ find victory.