Who do you belong to?
Scot Turow’s book One-L in which he talks about the fear and trembling with which he entered into a particular class.
I had a different kind of fear when I entered into Murray Harris’ class. Dr. Harris had a famous phrase “But have you considered?” And you knew that you hadn’t.
One of Dr. Harris’ area’s of research was slavery as a metaphor in the NT. Since I was his teaching assistant, I did a little bit of work for him in this area.
This is the most complete description of being a slave of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Slavery was a way of life in the first century. There were lots of slaves in Rome. A poor person might have only one or two slaves, a senator as many as 400, while the household of Caesar was a network of some 20,000 slaves
Everyone here today ought to be free from the slavery of sin and enslaved to the service of the mighty Christ. We must enslave those who think that they are free, and free those who know that they are enslaved. This entails two other questions:
I. What does it mean to be a slave? Four things that the NT says about slavery: FLOP
A. Slavery and Freedom-this is a metaphor that seems to contradict itself. Yet Paul uses it often. He is, in the words of the famous book by F. F. Bruce The Apostle of the heart set free. The question of course is what does it mean to be free. A person became a slave in one of four ways in NT times.
1. He was captured as a prisoner of war.
2. He or she sold themselves or were sold to debtors.
3. One could be born into slavery.
4. One could be captured by a slave trader.
Yet Paul in the book of Galatians says that it is only through Christ that we ever gain real freedom. He means that we exchange one master for another. We are either slaves to sin, or slaves to Christ. The one who is enslaved to Christ is ultimately free, the one who is free to sin is ultimately enslaved. James talks about sin in v. 14 and uses a fishing metaphor. Sin is like the bait that hides the hook that will capture us.
B. Slavery and Lordship-Jesus is Lord was the early confession of the Church, maybe to fight against saying that Caesar was Lord. When we are slaves of Christ we affirm his absolute Lordship. Obedience is at the heart of a slaves service to his Lord. James was Jesus’ brother, died by being thrown off the temple and then being clubbed to death.
C. Slavery and Ownership. A slave has no:
1. Will of his own.
2. Wish of his own
Slavery involves the absence of rights. This is one of the reasons that people fight against the word Slavery and against Calvinism. It seems to violate our individual rights.
Eusibius in his Ecclesiastical History talks about James saying that he was often found on his bended knees interceding for the forgiveness of the people so that his knees became as hard as camel’s. He was looking for the will of his owner.
Aristotle: “Slave is an animate tool, a tool is an inanimate slave.” If a Jewish slave wanted to remain with his master after having been freed, he stood at the doorpost and had a hole punched in his ear. Pierced ears.
D. Slavery and Privilege-the nature of the slave is determined by the nature of the master. Note that James does not say that he is the brother of the Lord but his slave. Peter does not say an apostle of the Lord, but his slave. It is almost as if they are saying that to be a slave of Christ is a greater privilege than to be his brother or apostle.
II. What Should a Slave do? James 1:26-27
A. A slave should control his speech. V. 26-
1. Note how often the book of Proverbs warns us about out speech.
2. Tongue on the alter-minister “There is no alter big enough”
3. Loose lips ruin lives.
4. James goes on to speak a great deal more of this in chapter three.
5. Crossing the street “I just love it when you preach in the contemporary.”
B. A slave should control his Service v. 27a-are we doing things for those who cannot help themselves? James goes on to speak a great deal more of this in chapter two. He says that we are known by the works that we do. James would be ashamed of much of what passes for Christianity today.
Lincoln buying a slave girl-“Then I want to go with you.”
Just before a slave was to be set free there was a strange ritual. The master gave the slave a slap on the head. There are different theories about what this signified but the best is that the slap was a symbol of the final insult the master could ever inflict; the freed man was forever free from the insults of slavery.
Christ has taken the slap on the head from the master of sin so that we will not be punished though we deserve it.