There is a sharp distinction between our life in Jesus Christ and living in this world. There are two sets of opposing powers at work that significantly affect and impact every person on this planet.
On the one hand there is the spirit of this world. This world today is ruled by the devil and his designs are for the destruction of mankind. His work is to ensnare and enslave all of mankind to their detriment and destruction for he is opposed to God and trying to destroy all that God has created.
And on the other hand there is the opposition to the devil. The spirit of God and Jesus Christ who stand for all that is good and right and true. The intent of the works of God through Jesus Christ is to reconcile man to God so that we can again live in harmony with the Father and the Son.
The difference between these two positions as far as mankind is concerned is defined and explored in these few verses and it is revealing when we see what they say.
Slavery Of The World
The focus of the devil, as I mentioned above is the destruction of the works of God. He began that process through enslaving man to sin in the garden of Eden when he deceived Adam and Eve.
It was at that time that mankind fell under the power of sin and by extension became subjects to the devil.
This was the beginning of the slavery of mankind. Sin grew and expanded as the devil worked his way into the hearts, minds and consciousness of man to turn man further and further away from God.
And the works of the devil to enslave man grew stronger as he tempted man and harnessed the passions, desires and lusts of man to do what is wrong. He led man by the nose to do evil and twisted mans thoughts to accept evil as being good.
Today we see the outcomes of this slavery as man is enslaved to drink, drugs, tobacco and other substances of abuse. Man is also enslaved to lusts for pornography, homosexuality, fornication, adultery and other sexual appetites that will lead to death.
Man is enslaved also to human emotions of anger, wrath, violence, greed and the desire for wealth for wealth's sake.
And what many do not understand is that the devil has twisted the minds of mankind to consider some of these things as being good, and to condemn anyone who opposes such slavery by seeking to do what is right.
Man is a slave to all these and more and in many cases they are willing slaves. They are not led there against their will but actively seek and choose to follow the pathways of sin. This is how effective is the destruction wielded by the devil that man has become a willing slave to the human desires that lead to death.
And this is also why there was and is still the need for a saviour to give man release from the slavery of the devil whose desire is not the good of man but his ultimate destruction.
Sons Of God
The other side of this situation is the work accomplished by Jesus Christ when He came to the earth to teach man right from wrong and to proclaim the message of salvation.
God the Father established a path for man to be released from slavery and to come again into His presence and to be reconciled to Him. In Jesus Christ God provided the way to be set free from ALL of the mechanisms of slavery.
Jesus first set man free from sin through the power of His death and the shedding of His blood. He also set man free from the bondage of the law so as to overcome the power of sin that is in the law.
The God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to continue the work of transformation so that we can become like Jesus, perfected in love. And it is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives on a day by day basis that changes our human nature from being enslaved to sin and the passions, lusts and desires of the flesh, into a place where we are able to live lives of righteousness in the presence of God.
All of this is achievable when we come to God and enter through Jesus Christ who, as He Himself said, is the way and the truth and the life. It is only when a person comes to God through Jesus Christ that true and complete freedom is possible.
When we take on the death of Jesus Christ as our own in baptism, we enter into His death for the release from sin and the law, but we also enter into His resurrected life to be transformed into the image of God. And because we take on His life through this working in the new covenant we are adopted as sons of God. We become the children of God through coming to God IN Jesus Christ.
This of course is a spiritual process for we are children of God and brothers and sisters together through coming together in Jesus Christ in the spirit.
Sons, Not Slaves
Bringing these two positions together in these scriptures in Romans 8 we see that we are no longer slaves.
When we come to God and also when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to do the work of transformation, we are not enslaved and forced into doing anything.
The Holy Spirit will not force you to change. He will not MAKE you change or enslave you to do what is right.
What God seeks is a people who CHOOSE to do what is right because it is the right thing to do in His sight. God wants His people to know the difference between right and wrong and to make the right choices so that when we are in positions where decision need to be made, we choose to follow the paths of righteousness.
When our passions and desires flare up or we are tempted by the devil to do evil, God wants us to choose to do what is right and to reject the evil passions, lusts, thoughts and desires. This is the aim of walking in the spirit and the focus of why the Holy Spirit has been given to us.
BUT… The Holy Spirit will not force you to do the right thing for that is slavery as true as any slavery the devil promotes.
Instead the Holy Spirit will HELP you to do what is right when YOU make the choice. The Holy Spirit will step in behind your decision and give you the strength, ability or power necessary to reject the temptation that is coming at you so that you can step aside from evil and do right.
There is no slavery in Jesus Christ. He wants us to know what is right and do it and to that end is changing our nature to be like His. Each time we make the decision to do right and use the Holy Spirit through walking in the spirit to effect a change in our patterns of behaviour, the Holy Spirit works a little more transformation in us making it easier the next time that temptation or situation is thrown at us again.
This is the power of God at work in us to teach us to walk as Jesus walked. He is making these changes, but not through a process of slavery, but instead is teaching us obedience as children, sons and daughters of the living God, so that we do right and are prepared to live into eternity in His presence as joint heirs with Christ of the kingdom of God.
(Image sourced from www.freeimages.com taken by Deon Staffelbach)
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