Tuesday, 29 July 2014
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 1 Corinthians 7:23
This verse isn’t saying what may initially come to mind when it is read. What it sounds like is that because we were bought at a price, meaning the finished work of Jesus which included His cross, that we are now His and so we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be sold into literal slavery as bondservants of another. However, this is not what is being referred to.
Rather, the idea of being a slave that Paul is speaking of would be yielding to unnecessary rites and customs which a false teacher or non-believer might impose on them. As slaves of Christ, we are under His ultimate authority. We have been granted grace and are freed from the constraints of both the law and of the world around us. We are to live as slaves to Him. If we were to allow ourselves to fall back under the law, or to be swayed by those who reject or manipulate the gospel, we would be brought into a form of slavery from which we had been bought from.
Paul explains this in a concise statement found in Ephesians 4:14 where he says that “we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” If we fall into their trap, we are making ourselves a slave to a far lesser authority than Christ who redeemed us. The Pulpit commentary gives an excellent explanation of this verse when they say the following:
“There is a grand play of words in the advice to them not to become slaves, at the very moment when he is advising them to continue in slavery. In that which the world called “slavery” the Christian slave might enjoy absolute liberty. The price which a master paid for them was but an unmeaning shadow; they had been bought once and eternally by an infinitely nobler price, and that purchase was the pledge of absolute emancipation.”
Again, the words of Paul in Galatians 5:1 give another beautiful rendering of the thought he is making when he says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” The “yoke of bondage” which makes us “slaves of men” is speaking on a spiritual not a physical level.
Life application: The greatest freedom we can ever possess is to be found as a slave of Christ. To enjoy the fullness of this freedom, we must read, learn, and apply the Bible to our lives. If we don’t do this, but rather trust in the doctrines of men, then we are putting ourselves back into bondage, even if we think we are following a path of freedom and ease. Read your Bible, keep its precepts in context, and apply them to your life. In doing this, you will truly experience the fullness of the life that Christ desires for you during this earthly existence.
Let us no longer be children
Tossed to and fro and carried about
With every wind of doctrine
By the trickery of men who rave and shout
In the cunning craftiness of their deceitful plotting
Let us their wayward tricks be a’spotting
And let us speak the truth in love
That we may grow up in all things into Him
Who is the head—Christ, our Lord above
Let us in His doctrine immerse ourselves and swim
Let our walk be acceptable in His sight
Let us always follow the noble path, the one just and right
Yes, Lord! It is my prayer today that I would be grounded in Your word and kept from the bondage of those who would twist it in a way that would keep me from a sound and joyous walk with You. In Your word is freedom, wholeness, and the path for right living. So fill me with proper understanding and then the desire to apply that to my every step. Amen.