The slaves of sin rarely grumble at that slavery; it is their slavery to God they grumble at; of that alone they complain—of the painful messengers he sends to deliver them from their slavery both to sin and to himself. They must be sons or slaves. They cannot rid themselves of their owner. Whether they deny God, or mock him by acknowledging and not heeding him, or treat him as an arbitrary, formal monarch; whether, taking no trouble to find out what pleases him, they do dull things for his service he cares nothing about, or try to propitiate him by assuming with strenuous effort some yoke the Son never wore, and never called on them to wear, they are slaves, and not the less slaves that they are slaves to God; they are so thoroughly slaves, that they do not care to get out of their slavery by becoming sons and daughters, by finding the good of life where alone it can or could lie. Could a creator make a creature whose well-being should not depend on himself? And if he could, would the creature be the greater for that? Which, the creature he made more, or the creature he made less dependent on himself, would be the greater? The slave in heart would immediately, with Milton’s Satan, reply, that the farthest from him who made him must be the freest, thus acknowledging his very existence a slavery, and but two kinds of being—a creator, and as many slaves as he pleases to make, whose refusal to obey is their unknown protest against their own essence.
Sons or Slaves?
by Stephen Carney
“The slaves of sin rarely grumble at that slavery, it is their slavery to God they grumble at; of that alone they complain—of the painful messengers he sends to deliver them from their slavery both to sin and to himself. They must be sons or slaves. They cannot rid themselves of their owner.” These words from MacDonald's sermon remind us that all men are slaves and never really free until they become the sons and daughters of God. We will ourselves into slavery by allowing outside forces to control us. It almost cannot be helped, for we are addictive creatures. We get attached, long for connectedness, and find ourselves in constant dependency for our own survival. Sin is a slave master who will not relent.
As MacDonald suggests, men rarely grumble at the Sin-Master, for he is always promising pleasure, but soon the pleasure wears off, and so our “Master” promises more pleasure. At first this sounds great to the uninitiated. But tell that to the heroin addict who just can't get high enough anymore. He is a slave to getting high, and soon it will kill him if he cannot find a way to stop. Sex is just as demanding. Our culture little understands its addiction to sex. Sexual addiction often finds its slaves when they are but children. They get introduced to pornography and are shown countless sexual messages through television, the internet, and on cell phones. They receive sexting messages, commercials that use sex to sell products and are introduced to sex in our schools, not solely in sex education classes, but also in a host of other ways. One would think if they visited our planet from somewhere else in the universe that humans only care about how much sex they can have. What was once labeled as “sexual freedom” has become sexual addiction to the point that if you told someone “You don't have to have sex,” they would look at you with a blank stare and most likely not believe you. Many are the slaves of sex and even define their lives by the way in which they want to have sex.
We have also become the slaves of other men. Whenever we become too dependent upon others to provide for us, we begin to lose our independence. We incur debts to those who help, and as a result can become their indentured slaves without ever signing a contract. If you have ever asked someone for help and heard them say, “Okay, I will help you with this, but..”, you knew you were not getting free help, and that it would cost you later. So, whether it be a friend, or business, or politics, we must be careful or we will lose our freedom quickly. Political favors, from any party, always come at a cost, and many a person has sold their soul to a political party. We can become slaves to ideological beliefs as well, and hold them so dear we lose sight of the bigger picture. We can refuse to admit we might be wrong, or don't have all the answers. This can be a very dangerous form of slavery.
And, of course, there are religious slaves, people who are enslaved by their particular religious bent. The become addicted to the cause, to their leader, or to their commonly held beliefs. Religion demands repetition, just like sexual and drug addicts. They, like political junkies, just cannot get enough of the cause, the debate, or the idealization of their beliefs. They grow their egos large in believing that they have the “real truth.” Everyone must believe as they do or they are unintelligent or sinners. But this too comes from obsession, and the chants or slogans are repeated again and again to keep everyone faithful to the cause.
So why are men so easily enslaved? It is because man is a worshiping creature. He was made to worship God, and when he tries to worship anything other than God, it becomes for him an addiction. Only the experience of encountering God allows one to experience the freedom man so desperately wants. The creation longs to know it's creator, and finds little rest, let alone freedom, until this is accomplished. As long as one remains unfulfilled, one will remain a slave. As long as something remains missing in a person's life, they are not free to live the life they were meant to live. What then keeps us enslaved is that we have come to believe the lies of the Sin-Master, that though told in many different ways, still repeats the same lie over and over: “Try this and you will be happy, eat of that tree and you will be gods, buy this car, this house, have more sex and much more of anything else other than God, and you will be happy.” Most people would rather believe this than come to know the truth that will set them free. Jesus said, “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” Freedom comes, then, by a change in identity. We must move from being the slaves of the Sin-Master and come to be the sons and daughters of adoption through Jesus Christ. We may return from our pig styes of our false self-fulfillment and come home to the Father hoping and expecting to be a slave, but it will not be so, for he will kill the fatted calf, throw a party, put a ring on our finger and a robe around us, and call us SON, DAUGHTER-- and we shall be free.