Are You A Servant Or A Slave?

What? know you not that your body is the temple of the
Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have of God, and
you are not your own? For you are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit,
which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

One of the things we all value most is our personal freedom: the choice of doing what we want, when we want, the way we want. Most of us don't want anyone telling us what to do and how to do it; that's just our human nature.

However, when we accept Jesus Christ as Our Lord and Savior, we are no longer a free agent, doing whatever we choose. The Bible tells us that we are bought with a price. We are no longer our own, instead both our body and our spirit are to glorify God.

In today's church, there are three things that have changed over the years, that have had a negative effect on the way we serve God.

1. The emphasis on pursuing a life of repentence and holiness changed. Instead of repentence and striving for holiness, the emphasis now has become "living your best life now" messages and uplifting, "feel-good" services. People no longer want to hear sound doctrine. Instead, they want emotional experiences as "proof" of the Lord's presence and blessing.

For the time will come when they will not endure
sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they
heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth,
and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

We've toned down the need for repentance and personal holiness. As a result, many people are never changed on the inside, and have only a very superficial religious experience. When they run into the storms of life, their superficial, feel-good religion fails them, and they fall away. They fail to understand that God is far more interested in our holiness than our personal happiness: He instructs us to "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 20:7), not "Be ye happy, for I am happy."

2. The call for surrender changed into a call for "commitment". The difference is subtle, but the effect is major. Commitment allows us to maintain a certain degree of control; commitment implies a voluntary choice that we can pick up or drop at our own convenience.

Surrender, on the other hand, is an all-in proposition. It means giving God complete control; giving up our own will, our own desires, our own plans, and our own way of doing things. We must sacrifice our will to God's will, fully and completely.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable
service. And be not conformed to this world: but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you
may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and
perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

Jesus himself set a perfect example for us of being completely surrendered. Paul writes:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to
be grasped to be equal with God: But made himself of no
reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and
was made in the likeness of men: And being found in
fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
(Philippians 2:5-8)

3. Various translations of the Holy Bible (including the King James Version) changed the word "slave" or "bondservant" to just "servant". In the original Greek, the word that has been translated as "servant" was "doulos", meaning a slave or bondservant, one who was subject to someone else, a position of subsevience. This word was used 119 times, and always referred to one in a a postion of subservience to a master.

There was at that time a difference between being a servant and being a slave. A servant had some degree of control over their situation. They had a choice in their position, and could choose whom they would serve. Under Jewish law, their terms of service were limited, and they could arrange their own freedom. It was not a life-long committment or total surrender of personal will.

A slave, on the other hand, had no control over their life at all; they belonged wholly and completely to their master, and had no choice in their situation. The master owned the slave, and the slave must obey the master. A slave was a slave for their whole lifetime, rather than a limited period, unless their owner choose to set them free.

The apostles Paul, James, Peter and Jude, all referred to themselves as a "doulos", or slave, of Jesus Christ. Paul taught that we are all slaves to whatever masters us, whatever we obey:

Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

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