Are You God's Slave or Child (or Both)?
The following passages are written to Jesus’ followers:
“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 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? 17 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, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 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.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 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. 22 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. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:15-23 ESV [italics mine]
“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
Galatians 4:1-9 ESV
A footnote in the ESV states that the phrase “elementary principles of the world” can also be translated “elemental spirits” in vs. 3 and vs. 9. When Galatians 4:7 says of Jesus’ family members, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God,” is this saying we are no longer slaves to God because we are children of God?
Or rather, is it saying that we are no longer slaves to sin and to the elemental spirits of the world (Satan’s kingdom of darkness with its rulers, principalities, and demons)? You might re-read the above passages in Galatians 4 and Romans 6 to look for clues.
See also Ephesians 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:26; 2 Cor. 4:4-6; Ephesians 2:1-3; John 14:30-31; 1 John 3:1-10.
Jesus told his disciples:
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
When Jesus tell his disciples, “No longer do I call you servants,” does this mean that Jesus’ followers no longer need the "slave identity?" That depends on how we define "slave identity," for the apostle Paul and others often introduced themselves in their epistles as bondservants (slaves) of Jesus Christ. And although Jesus elevates our status from "servants" to "friends," that "promotion" is still contingent upon obedience to his commandments. That change in relational dynamic does, however, add an intimacy to our relationship with him that wasn't as present before. c.f. John 15:14-17.
By definition, to call Jesus our “Lord,” is to call ourselves “slaves” or "servants" subservient to the Lord (or Master).
C.f. Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 7:21-23. A Lord/Master does not give suggestions, but commands--marching orders.
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
1 John 2:3-6 ESV
If you have not yet discovered a relationship with God as His slave, then see my blog article “Would You Like to Be God’s Personal Slave?”
God bless you.