Christ and His Righteousness—
12. Bond Servants and Freemen
The prominent characteristic of the slave is that he cannot do as he pleases, but is bound to perform the will of another, no matter how irksome it may be. Paul thus proves the truth of his saying that he, as a carnal man, was the slave of sin. “For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” Rom. 7:15, 17-19.
The fact that sin controls proves that a man is a slave, and although everyone that committeth sin is the bond-servant of sin, the slavery becomes unendurable when the sinner has had a glimpse of freedom and longs for it, yet cannot break the chains which bind him to sin. The impossibility for the unrenewed man to do even the good that he would like to do has been shown already from Rom. 8:7, 8 and Gal. 5:17.
How many people have in their own experience proved the truth of these scriptures. How many have resolved and resolved again and yet their sincerest resolutions have proved in the face of temptation as weak as water. They had no might, and they did not know what to do, and, unfortunately, their eyes were not upon God so much as upon themselves and the enemy. Their experience was one of constant struggle against sin, it is true, but of constant defeat as well.
Call you this a true Christian experience? There are some who imagine that it is. Why, then, did the apostle, in the anguish of his soul, cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Rom. 7:24. Is a true Christian experiencing a body of death so terrible that the soul is constrained to cry for deliverance? Nay, verily.
Again, who is it that, in answer to this earnest appeal, reveals himself as a deliverer? Says the apostle, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In another place he says of Christ:
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage. Heb. 2:14, 15.
Again, Christ thus proclaims His own mission:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” Isa. 61:1.
What this bondage and captivity are has already been shown. It is the bondage of sin—the slavery of being compelled to sin, even against the will, by the power of inherited and acquired evil propensities and habits. Does Christ deliver from a true Christian experience? No, indeed. Then the bondage of sin, of which the apostle complains in the seventh of Romans, is not the experience of a child of God, but of the servant of sin. It is to deliver men from this captivity that Christ came, not to deliver us, during this life, from warfare and struggles, but from defeat; to enable us to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, so that we could give thanks unto the Father “who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,” through whose blood we have redemption.
How is this deliverance effected? By the Son of God. Says Christ, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:31, 32, 36. This freedom comes to everyone that believeth, for to them that believe on His name, He gives the “power to become the sons of God.” The freedom from condemnation comes to them who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), and we put on Christ by faith (Gal. 3:26, 27). It is by faith that Christ dwells in our hearts.