They abolished slavery several hundred years ago. At least they did in most western civilisations and those civilisations where rulers had compassion for their people. And this is a good thing.
But despite that fact we are all slaves. Every person on this earth is in the bondage of a slavery like no other, for we were all sold under sin many, many years ago and there is nothing we can do about it.
There is no payment we can make, work we can do, gift we can offer or anything else on this earth that can buy back our freedom from this slavery. We were born slaves and because of this slavery we will die slaves. The slavery I speak of is the bondage to sin and we are very fortunate to live in this time and age for although we cannot do or pay anything to buy back our freedom, Jesus has done it for us.
Sold under Sin
Yes, we were all sold under sin and there is no humanly possible escape available. But there is a spiritual escape opened to us through the death of Jesus Christ, but more of that later.
This slavery we are under because of sin is so insidious because it is part of the core of our being. Every human born is born with the sin factor built into every fibre of their being. It is even more ingrained than the genetic coding in our DNA that causes us to have certain coloured hair, skin and eyes. The sin factor is part of the spirit of mankind and this clings closer than your skin.
The term “sold under sin” appears in verse 14 of this section where it says,
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
The law is indeed spiritual. It is the words of God and the standard set by Him for man to live by. But because the law is spiritual and we are flesh, Paul shows us a problem which we all face.
We are flesh and the flesh is not like the spirit. We have within our flesh a set of human passions, lusts and desires that if left unchecked will lead us to all manner of sin. And even when we do the very best we can, we still fall short and commit sin for it is not possible for a physical, fleshly man to walk as a spiritual man. It is not possible for man to walk in the image of God, who is spirit, except and unless God intervenes and helps the spirit of man.
Without God's help we cannot hope to walk in perfection. We are born under sin and as Paul States we were “sold under sin” which occurred when Adam and Eve chose to sin rather than to obey God in the garden of Eden. And like any person who is sold into slavery, we all became slaves of sin.
The Frustration of the Flesh
And we see in Paul's words how frustrated he was and we feel his frustrations in our own life. Look at the anguish and frustration in his words in verses 15-20.
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
You can feel his frustration as he says he knows what is right to do and wants with all his heart and mind to do what is right…and then fails. This is similar to those famous words of Jesus where he said, “The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41).
So too with Paul and so too with us. We can desire what is right with all of our hearts and minds, but the weaknesses brought on by the passions of human desire cause us to fail and fall. We may stave off the inevitable for a while, but where something is a weakness for us we will fail. And even if a person succeeds in not doing whatever it is that is their particular weakness, they still suffer in the flesh because they must focus on the weakness to overcome it. It is a constant battle of the flesh versus the mind to overcome.
Freedom in Jesus Christ
But Jesus came to give us back our freedom to walk as He walked. He came to offer us the gift of salvation, the gift of righteousness and the gift of the Holy Spirit to work a transformation in our own spirits so that we may be perfect like He is. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to overcome sin in our lives and to have the victory over the passions and desires that lead us to disobey God, so that we can walk in perfection with Him.
There is no other way to come to this place of perfection except through Jesus who said, “I am the Way, and the truth and the life.” It is only by the path set forth in Jesus Christ that we can come to the fulness of all that God offers and promises us when we walk with Him.
And when He gives us the Holy Spirit and teaches us how to walk in the spirit after giving us the insights into the foundation teachings of Christianity, then these problems that plague all mankind can be overcome.
Look again at the example of Paul. We know in this section of scripture that he speaks of a problem he had with covetousness. And yet we see in 1 Corinthians 4:4 where he makes this statement,
For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
He has gone over a period of time from a man who was out of control with covetousness to being brought through the teachings of the new covenant, the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and by the transformational work of the Holy Spirit in his life to come to a place where he no longer suffered from coveting. He started out from the place where he could will what is right but not do it, to come to a place where he just did what was right and could not even recall anything that the Lord might have against him.
By all accounts this is a remarkable transformation for it shows how the power of God and the working of the Holy Spirit can completely transform a person and remake them into the image of Jesus Christ.
And let me say this now too. Paul was not anyone special. This was not a gift given to him alone. It is the same gift that is available to ALL who seek the Lord and follow Him according to Hos ways. And that is the key. We cannot hope to come to this place if we want to follow Him according to what we or someone else thinks is the right way. We must seek God and follow Him the way He seeks us to do.
And that means we have to learn His ways and then follow in them.
The transformational power still exists today. It is still open to all who seek it and come to Him to find it. And God has promised He will show you what He wants when you seek Him out.
So do it. Don't suffer as a slave sold under sin. Instead seek the freedom from slavery to sin and to the flesh that is available in Jesus Christ. Go to Him yourself and ask for His help. He will give it. That's a promise of God.
(Image sourced from www.freeimages.com provided by Svilen Milev)