As shocking as it is profound, God’s Word teaches that true freedom can only be found through slavery to Christ. Though they think they are free, all unbelievers are in reality slaves to sin—held captive to their lusts and ensnared in their trespasses. In fact, the Bible denotes only two categories of people in this world: those who are slaves to sin and those who are slaves to righteousness. Paul contrasted those two groups in Romans 6:
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Rom. 6:16–18, NASB
As the apostle shows in this passage, there is no such thing as absolute moral independence. Every person is a slave—either to sin or to God. James Montgomery Boice articulated this reality with these words:
There is no such thing as absolute freedom for anyone. No human is free to do everything he or she may want to do. There is one being in the universe who is totally free, of course. That is God. But all others are limited by or enslaved by someone or something. As a result, the only meaningful question in this area is: Who or what are you serving? … Since you and I are human beings and not God, we can never be autonomous. We must either be slaves to sin or slaves of Jesus Christ. But here is the wonderful and very striking thing: To be a slave of Jesus Christ is true freedom.1
Slavery to Christ not only means freedom from sin, guilt, and condemnation. It also means freedom to obey, to please God, and to live the way our Creator intended us to live—in intimate fellowship with Him. Thus, “having been freed from sin [we have been] enslaved to God” (Rom. 6:2; cf. 1 Pet. 2:16). Slavery to Christ, then, is the only freedom, for “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
John MacArthur, Slave, (Thomas Nelson: 2010), 201–202; emphasis in original.
- James Montgomery Boice, Romans, 4 vols. (Baker: 1991), 2:689–90; emphasis in original. ↩