The apostles identified themselves as bond-servants of Jesus Christ, and that must be our identity as well. In all we do, we will either be bond-servants to Christ or else bond-servants of sin. True liberty comes from following God's law, and leads to every good consequence.
Good afternoon, brethren. As the old saying goes, it seems like it was only yesterday when I saw you. Only this is one of those times where it isn’t a saying – it’s a reality.
We have an interesting time to have a back-to-back Sabbath on the tail end of the Days of Unleavened Bread. It probably means the majority of you still haven’t become leavened. And that’s not a bad thing – either physically or spiritually – obviously spiritually, but physically, another day – eight days of unleavened bread – yeah, everybody survives.
But what it does, or what it means, is – as a speaker – that there is really no practical reason, if you’re speaking, to abandon or vacate the seasonality of the message. For the Days of Unleavened Bread, we give meat in due season messages. And since we really are in that unusual position of having an additional day of unleavened bread, then meat in due season is quite appropriate now also.
I have a question to ask you. And I want – just very candidly upfront – I want to beg your adult indulgence and your pardon. I understand the more recent history here in the Spokane area, and I have to pass by a delicate area to get to where I’m going. And I’ll spend as little time passing by it as possible. I have a sermon that is all about you. But I have to pass by something else to get there. So I want to ask a few very foundational questions. It reminds me of going back to the most read booklet in the Worldwide Church of God, Radio Church of God inventory, which was Why Were You Born? That booklet and The US and British Commonwealth in Prophecy were always at the very pinnacle of the booklets requested. And to send people the booklet Why Were You Born? brought them right down to the most basic fundamental, elemental, things that relate to who we are and where we’re going.
So I have a question for you – and these are relationship questions. The first question is simply, and nothing complex – I’m trying to ask literally first grade questions – the first question is: What is your relationship to God? When it comes to every day of the week, every week of the year, every year of your life, what is your relationship to God?
Now I said yesterday when I spoke about sincerity and truth – I said truth was not something that goes on up here. Truth is something you live. And I talked about being inside the circle of influence of truth, and when you step outside of it, you were in a different world. So, this is a question that I ask in that same spirit. I’m not talking about where are you academically. I’m talking about where do you live.
Let me prime the pump. I’ll prime the pump in a way that relates to every single, solitary person in this room. I sat down with pencil and paper, and thought, “Well, this is going to be interesting, just to walk through it mathematically.” My family came into the church – actually when I say, “…came into the church,” began attending. Like everybody else, we had those transitional years. We had a couple years of learning and practicing as we were learning, but finding out that we were 350 miles away from the nearest congregation. So obviously, we were not attending. At the time we were being called, my family lived in Caldwell, Idaho, and the nearest church was Portland, Oregon, so you can well understand in the two lane highway through the Columbia Gorge, and over the Blues, and through the Cascades; we never attended church. Our first service was Pasadena, California, when my father moved the family there to begin attending Ambassador College.
So that gives me 62 years in the Church of God. In those 62 years, every time I have prayed privately, every Sabbath and holy day service that I ever attended, and every meal that I bowed my head over and asked a blessing upon, or I bowed my head and somebody else asked a blessing upon, answered – in a living fashion – the question that I just asked you. Because every one of them went this way: Father in Heaven. So when I ask the question, “What is your relationship to God?” you have lived the answer your entire life in the Church. And you have emphasized it every time you’ve bowed your head. God is your Father.
Now, using myself – relates to you – your years…. I was enjoying talking to somebody yesterday, who’s years are more than mine – add another four or five years on top of that. And there are others of you that those years are shorter. But for those same 62 years – and I don’t need to go through the meals and the meetings and the private time – every single, solitary one of those – and I can’t resist…. You know, mathematically, you have to just sort of round the figures off. But I counted the number of meals in 62 years, I counted the number of Sabbath services in 62 years, and the number of holy days, counting AM and PM services in 62 years, and being very, very, very conservative, one prayer a day for every day in 62 years – and this is in round figures – this is 100,000 times. And all 100,000 of them ended with “in Jesus’s name.” So if I ask the question, “What is my relationship to Him?” I have my relationship on the front end of all those prayers with the Father. He’s my Father. On the back end, I have my relationship implied – and it only takes a couple of steps sideways to go from implied to literal. When I said, “in Jesus’ name,” what I said was, “I’m asking Your permission. I’m telling the Father that I have Your permission to talk to Him. Okay?” I’m sure there are different ways in terms of adjectives that we could use to describe that, but the simplest way to describe it, and probably the most reinforced in the New Testament, is to simply say, “Christ is my Lord.” That would be the easiest way to say it. You know, it’s interesting. From the time that the New Testament Church began, until the Bible ends, Christ is called – in terms of a package – “Lord Jesus Christ” 106 times. And that’s not counting the segment where, maybe, Christ the Lord, or some other permutation, but just simply, Lord Jesus Christ.
So I have a Father and I have a Lord. Now, turn that all around, because I said this is about me and you. And the question is, “Okay, we’ve answered Their station. What’s my station?” What’s your station? First one is a piece of cake, isn’t it? If I have a Father, that means I’m a son. No rocket science there. If I address Him as Father, I am coming to Him as a son. So I have my relationship there.
If Christ is my Lord, what is my relationship there? Peter, Paul, James, John, and Jude were not ambiguous about the answer to that one for a moment. Every single writer of an epistle answered that question for themselves, and in doing so every single one of them answered the question for us. The quickest and easiest way to give you a for instance is, simply to go back to – I could go back to the introductions to James, the introductions to Jude, the introduction to Romans. Let me do Jude, since he’s the last in the string, and I think, in a sense, it adds a little specialness to it, because Jude and James were brothers of Christ, and familiarity breeds contempt. And so, when you see the complete and utter absence of contempt, it makes it even a little more impressive.
Jude’s Gospel begins: Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James . James, by the way, says: James, the servant of Christ . Paul begins Romans with: servant of Christ . The Greek word – not that that make a whole lot of difference – is doulos . And all of them were saying the same thing. Because there are servants, and there are servants, and there are servants. But in my New King James it does me the favor, in Romans 1:1 Romans 1:1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God,
American King James Version×, to say that the word servant meant slave or bond servant . For all the rest of the time today, brethren, we’re going to talk about me and you – bond servants of Jesus Christ.
A bond servant is a bond servant because they’ve been bought. That’s what makes them a bond servant. They have been purchased. They have been paid for by a master, and as a result, they are property. So when Peter and Paul and James and John and Jude looked at themselves in the mirror of life, they said, “I am bought, I am paid for, and I am owned by a Master, and that’s why I refer to Him as Lord.” That’s who I am. That’s who you are. We just spent, on the front end of this holy day season, doing our annual rehearsal of the purchase of the mortgage. We went through the contract – the signing of the contract. We went through the notarization during that same period. I don’t know, in your first holy day, whether you would have had cause to go through it – and I didn’t mention it – but we all are familiar with the place and time where the followers of Christ wanted to touch Him, and He said, “Not yet, I have not yet ascended to My Father to be accepted. I need this notarized. I need the final stamp on the paper that says, ‘I own you’ – that I have bought and purchased you with My blood.”
Now God, from before the foundation of the world, had seen the possibility of this coming. The men who were there at the time said, “I am here at the time it has arrived. And when I look at Christ, I am His bond servant.”
I said to you earlier that there are servants, and there are servants, and there are servants. If you ever go back and look at the laws of servitude in the Old Testament, you will see categories. There were some servants…oftentimes servitude was a result of paying off debt. You had either through mismanagement or bad times, you had arrived at the place where you were indebted to someone. And the beauty of the Old Testament was, rather than throwing you in prison, where we now have to feed you in addition to assume your debt, you got to work off your debt. For those who were the most honored by God, He said “You know what? If this person has to serve you because of debt, you need to treat him with the utmost of respect. In fact, you need to treat him with such respect…” – and those of you who are employers, you can appreciate the levels here – He said, “You need to treat them with such a level of respect that, at the end of the day, they get to go home and sleep in their own bed.” He said, “Now there’s another class… – and I want you to turn back to Deuteronomy, chapter 15, because we’re going to do a two-step to arrive where we’re going, and I want you to see the first step before we arrive at the second step. So, Deuteronomy, chapter 15, verse 12:
Deuteronomy 15:12-15 Deuteronomy 15:12-15 12 And if your brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold to you, and serve you six years; then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.
13 And when you send him out free from you, you shall not let him go away empty:
14 You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, and out of your floor, and out of your wine press: of that with which the LORD your God has blessed you you shall give to him.
15 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you: therefore I command you this thing to day.
American King James Version×– And if your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold to you, and serve you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you . This was that middle ground. This was the person that there was a year of release, and you could have their services for so many years to pay back indebtedness. But in the seventh year, this was a time that you had to let them go. And not only did you have to let them go, but verse 13 shows the beauty of the love and compassion of God. He said: When you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty handed . You know, he ended up where he is because he was in debt. You’re not going to put him out on the street, where the first thing that is going to happen to him is that he’s going to be back in debt. You shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor and from your winepress. For what the Lord has blessed you with, you shall give to him . He said, “You better remember thatyou were in this place when you were in Egypt.” You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. Therefore, I command you this today . God, with beautiful, caring and compassionate love said, “Okay, he’s worked – or she’s worked – for six years on the debt. When you let them go, you’ve got to give them a chance to get their feet on the ground and to get running, so they don’t end up back here. And you need to do so because you need to go back and realize that, when you came out of Egypt, this is where you were, and I gave you a kick start that was beyond belief.” I don’t want to go there as a digression, but if you understand how many millions and millions of dollars the Israelites – in modern currency – had when they came out of Egypt from “spoiling Egypt,” they took away, in modern equivalent, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of startup funds. And God says, “Treat your brother the same way.”
But then we come to another person. And if it happens six years have gone by, you’ve given him lambs, you’ve given him, probably, a couple of cows, you’ve given him who knows how many bushels of wheat, you’ve given him wine, and you’ve given him grapes, and you’re ready to send him on his way, and he says, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” If it happens, and he says to you, “I’m not leaving. I’m not going anywhere.”
V-16-17 – I will not go away from you, because – and he says that to you because – he loves you and your family. He loves you and your household.And he loves you and he loves your household, because during the six years he’s lived with you, he’s prospered with you . And so he says, “I’m not going anywhere.” I was going to bring a gimmick today, but I didn’t. Even as a gimmick, I didn’t think it was in the best of taste. Or, to put it another way, I couldn’t envision myself up here being videotaped with it. But if you’ve seen the gauged ears and the fake ones where you put a magnet on one side, a magnet on the other side and it looks like you’ve got – I was going to get one of those and I thought, “Well, better not.” But that’s what happened. He or she got his or her ear gauged. Then you shall take an awl, and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also, to your maidservant you shall do likewise . So, either male or female could say, “I’m not leaving. I’m not going anywhere. You have treated me so well, and your family has been so accepting of me, and I have watched my own life turn around and flourish and blossom under your umbrella of protection, I’m not going anywhere. They went to the door, got out the awl, bored the ear through, which now became a symbol that they were forever property.
You know, it’s a serious decision to do something forever. It’s something in everybody’s life to sit down with a mortgage broker, and sign papers that say for the next 15, 20, or 30 years, I will be giving you, every month, something, in hopes that down the road 30 years, you will give me a piece of paper that says, “I’m free. It’s mine.” Forever is a long, long, long time.
For every true Christian, he or she is a bond servant of Jesus Christ in all of the same literal ways that we’ve been describing. You have been bought. You have been purchased. You know, the terms used go the whole range from being bought to being purchased – it even goes into the pawn brokering world of being redeemed. And we don’t use pawnbrokers much anymore, compared to the way it was before – all of the various quick loans and all the rest – advance loans, quick loans. But in it’s own day and time, about the only way to figure out how to get out of debt was to say, “What do I have that I can take to a pawnbroker and give it to him, and he will give me some cash and a ticket, and say, “Here’s your money. And if you can figure out how to get yourself out of trouble, then come back, give me the money and the pawn ticket, and I’ll go back on the shelf and pull up the item, and give it back to you, and then it’s yours.” But it doesn’t matter which way you go with the word. They all have to do with you and I have been bought. We are, in that sense, property.
And you know, any time we use these terms – because the Bible sees you from more than one angle – we understand the issues involved. Christ said I’m no longer a servant. I’m a friend. I understand that, in terms of how we are communicated with, with God, we are friends and children. But from the other side of the aisle, I know many of you had relationships where you fully understand how the person you are talking to sees you in one way, and you respect that, and you really appreciate it, but you, because of your feelings toward them, see them a different way – I mean both of them very honorable ways.
God the Father and Christ are looking at us, and They are saying, “Children. Friends.” We, because of what it cost to get us to the place of being children or friends, say “I am a bond servant.” That’s what all of the writers of the New Testament were saying. “I know who I am. I know what I am.” Paul waxed eloquent about being sons. But he said, in terms of how I feel towards You, “I am bought and paid for and I will ever, all of my life, be in Your debt.”
Becoming a bond servant of Jesus Christ involves making a choice. A person who genuinely sees Christ as the perfect Master, and His ways as the perfect guide to life, is at the best possible place he or she can be spiritually. Makes the choice easy. When you look around and say, “There is absolutely nothing that even causes me to take a second look,” that is a real easy choice.
Humanly, life isn’t usually that way. From early childhood onward we, as human beings, face a never ending series of decisions in the home with parents, and in the school with teachers, and at work with employers. And the decision we make over and over again is whether someone else knows better than we do how to steer our course. At home, the children are told, “You don’t have a choice. As long as you’re under my roof, and I’m putting clothes on your back and food on your table, you’ll live by my standards. And when you walk out the door self-sufficient, you can make your own choices.” In school, the teacher, basically, lets you know, “You will learn what I am teaching, because I hold the grading pencil.” And bosses will let you know that, since they own the company, and they pay your paycheck, that you will live by the policies.” You know, every single one of us has faced times when we determined that we knew better than our parents. In fact, since all of you had to go through teen-age years to get to adulthood, you’ve all had times when you knew better than your parents. You probably questioned whether you knew better than your teachers, and you have probably felt that you knew better than your foreman or your boss.
Now we come into the church. If we really are objective, we come to the place of understanding this particular reality: that there are times that you didn’t know better than your parents. You know, one of those times it seems people never forget is when siblings are fighting with each other. A parent comes in and gives one of them a whipping, because the other one was more convincing that it was that one’s fault, when really it was the other way around. And siblings will say, “You know when I got my backside whipped and you were the guilty one? You get that grin – like, “Yeah, I got away with it, and you got what for.” Teachers the same way. Bosses the same way. You know this reality is our worst spiritual enemy, because when we come into the Church, we come to the place where for the very first time in our lives, we enter a relationship where the other party knows better than we do in every situation and in every circumstance. And the other party knows how to guide us toward happiness in life in a way that we simply are not capable.
So conversion is a quite a process. Because here, for the first time, God isn’t asking us our opinion on what constitutes the right way to walk, and where it would lead to happiness and eternal life. He says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. And, if you are going to enter, you’ll enter by Me. And it’s not something we discuss. I don’t need your opinion on how to get to eternal life. You simply need to listen to Me and have faith.” That is not natural to us as human beings. Because we look around and every other place in our life, we can see where we have questioned somebody else who said that to us, and we were right and they were wrong. And now God says, “Put it all on the shelf. It does not apply.” And now we have to look square in the mirror, and ask ourselves, “Where are we? No surrender?” And we turn our back around, and say, “Nobody is going to tell me what to do.” Partial surrender? I described that yesterday when I said there were people who accepted the truth but without sincerity. They partially surrendered, and when given a chance to pull the white flag down, they pulled the white flag down. Or complete surrender? And complete surrender is the only real option.
The example in Deuteronomy was a physical example of a person who came to know a master who could make better choices than he could – a master that had the resources to provide for him in good and bad times, and a master who really cared for him just like he was part of the family.
You know, we walk through John, chapter 6, usually prior to Passover – sometimes within the Passover service. You had a group of people – five thousand men and who knows how many women and children – on the shores of Galilee who were following Christ in that famous long discussion about the bread – the bread of life – and they were all on one page. The were on the page of saying, “You know what? Moses fed our fathers for forty years in the wilderness. Would you feed us for forty years? Would you give us the peace of mind that knowing that every morning when we got up, we’d have food on the table for two or three meals a day – whatever our custom is – and we’d never go hungry.” They didn’t understand the spiritual that Christ was talking about. It was completely, totally, over their heads. But they wanted from Christ, when you go back and read the discussion, they wanted from Christ what the servant in Deuteronomy 15 said: “I’ve been provided for for six years, and I have no reason to leave it.” That servant describes our spiritual life and course and destination. The only question is: Are we on board? Are we on board? And if the answer to that is no, how often do you visit the issue? How often do you visit the idea?
I’ve had a lifetime of learning, and I can speak for myself, I believe my Lord is all the things that this unnamed servant’s lord was in Deuteronomy 15. And not referring to my life in terms of vocation as minister, I mean my life as a man, a husband, and a father, I look at my life. I have thought a number of times in meditation, “Where in the world would I be if my family had never come into the Church?” And I don’t like the picture that comes up to mind when that question comes up. How would my marriage have worked out? And my family have worked out? And I look at that and I’m not that convinced that the answer to that would have been what God has provided me.
And so, when I read Deuteronomy 15 and I read about the servant, I say, “Well, I have the same sort of Master, and I live at exactly the same address.” When that is your address, being a bond servant is not bondage. You know, when the man had the awl drilled through his ear, he said it’s because it’s the best place I’ve ever been. So, if he was lining up and people were giving labels and badges, he would have a badge that would say, “Bond Servant.” But he wasn’t a bond servant here. It may have been on his lapel – “I am a bond servant of Hezekiah, Ben, whatever. Not here. I’ve got it better than I’ve ever had it in my life.”
You know, brethren, the reality in life is one man’s freedom is another man’s bondage. For the man who wants to be the captain of his own ship, surrender to Christ is bondage. And I mean really bondage. It isn’t just bondage by label. It is bondage by life. It’s how soon can I get away from here? Being a bond servant of Christ can be a huge challenge for two classes of people. And one of those classes of people has my sincere sympathy. The other class I can dismiss very quickly, because that class is best described when you go back to the book of Proverbs, and you take the collection of Solomon’s proverbs related to what he says is the fool . Solomon points out that this man or woman is his or her own worst enemy. And until they overcome their self-will and their stubbornness, there is not a single, solitary thing in their life that is going to go right. They are the captain of a sinking ship and grinning all the way down. All you can do is shrug your shoulders. Every time I read Proverbs…and I read those where he warns “my son” – because Proverbs is written to “my son” – about the way of the fool, you look at it and say, “He’s incorrigible. He’s self-willed. He’s stubborn. He’s going his own way and it doesn’t matter how damaging it is. He isn’t changing his course.” So as I said, he’s the captain of a sinking ship.
My sympathy is deep for those who have been betrayed or abused by authority, because that abuse by authority has stripped them of both innocence and trust. And that makes for a very challenging road.
You know, in my lifetime in counseling with people, it’s not just a few who have said to me, “One of my greatest challenges is relating to the Father, or relating to Christ.” And they say, “Because…,” and they go through the family history. And I say, if you’ve never known the love and the care of those above you in your family, and now you’ve come to the word of God, and it tells you that those are the models that you have to use to wrap your physical mind around spiritual things, and what you have there is a void at best – and at worst you have nothing but an ugly, ugly picture – people have said “How do I do that? How do I get there? How do I get the picture of how I was treated by my mother and father out of my mind so that I can have a different picture?” You know, I don’t have a quickie answer to that one. I’ve never had a quickie answer to that one. That is a tough question. And it’s for that reason that I said, “This is a class of person for whom I have a great deal of compassion and sympathy.” But you know, if that challenge is taken…this is a case where you have to say to somebody, “Look, there is a scriptural admonition that says that we have to walk by faith and not by sight. And I’ve said you’ve entered that world. You have no model in a mother or father that you can look to that you can say I have an affinity. I have a warmth. I have a closeness.”
I feel phenomenally blessed in that regard. We were house guests for Steve and Becky Oliver. and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. And I was telling Steve this morning…I said, “You know, I was deeply loved by a father and by two grandfathers.” And I knew it. I wasn’t spoiled. I knew I was loved. My paternal grandfather spoke a dialect of German, Plattdeutsch , and my grandfather would grin and he’d come over and he would rub my head and say “ Feena kleena kopf .” And he’d pat my head. I didn’t know what he was saying. In fact, it wasn’t until I took German in college that I realized, okay, the sounds were a little different, Feena kleena – the kleena in real German is kleine . The kopf was the same. But he would rub my head, and say, “Fine little head,” and pat my head. My maternal grandfather lived in Walla Walla. In fact he lived, I tried on a trip from Spokane recently – recently, meaning one of the trips I made in the last couple of years – I drove down through Walla Walla to see if the home still existed. He lived on the last street before the state penitentiary. We’d look out the front window and see the prisoners working the crops. It’s all gone. Nothing is there anymore – industrial. But I had last seen my grandfather when I was 18. My mother called and said, “You know, your grandfather hasn’t seen you since you were 18. He’s never seen your wife or your children, and he’s 93. And there is a family reunion in Utah” – we were living in Columbus – and she said, “Would you come out?” So I’m 40 at the time, and we walked in to the dining hall, where my grandfather is sitting with my aunts. (When I was 2-3 years old, we would sit on the back stoop of my maternal grandfather’s house, and we’d look out over the chicken shed, and a big orange full moon would come up right over the top of the chicken shed. I’d sit next to Grandpa, and say, “Lookie de moon. Lookie de moon.”) I walked into the dining hall – my grandfather had his back to me – and one of my aunts elbowed him. He turned around and looked at me, and there I was with my wife and my kids. And he smiled from ear to ear, and he looked at me, and said, “Lookie de moon. Lookie de moon.” You know, I knew even though 23, 24 years had passed, not one single, solitary thing had changed. I think about it often. It makes life so much easier.
All I can do for those who were not blessed with those things is to say, “This is now your time to walk by faith and not by sight. Keep a constant record of the good fruits that you experience. And you store up those experiences for future reference. And you let the pile grow. And then you can come to see a father or a mother that you never had through the blessings, the gifts, and the fruits that you have been given, as you have followed God by faith. And in all of that, you can eventually arrive at the place where you can come to a full surrender, because you have seen – though you have no human model in your own life – you can see what a loving God really looks like.
Matthew, chapter 11, contains a simple, single verse that speaks to our bond service. And for those of us who have willingly, figuratively pierce our ears with an awl, we read this verse and smile. It says, in the last verse of Matthew 11:
Matthew 11:30 Matthew 11:30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
American King James Version×– For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. He said in encouragement in the previous verse: Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. This is that walk by faith. Until you’re willing to take it you really won’t know Me. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls . For My yoke is easy and My burden is light .
As I said, for some people bondage isn’t bondage. There is another side to that. A side that one man’s freedom is another man’s bondage. You can’t convince everyone of this. In fact, you can’t convince most people of this. But there are those who feel that they are as free as free can be, and they are not aware of the fact that they are in such bondage it is unbelievable. Being a bond servant of Christ can be a huge challenge, as I’ve said earlier. But for one class of person it’s unacceptable, for the other it’s a challenge.
I want you to turn back to Romans, chapter 6. We’re going to see, in Romans, chapter 6, something that, for those who want to feel that they’re free and nobody is their master, something that is a jerk on the chain for them. Now they will still, in the carnal world around us, they’ll still just smirk at you and put their chin up, and it’s like, “Okay, I heard what you said. I really don’t care.” The way you can tell those people – it won’t register to them – is that what you don’t realize is, in reality, bond service is not an option. In reality, bond service is not an option. The only option you really have is your choice of masters. The joke is on you, that you’re a bond servant, whether you like it or not. You only get to choose the master. In Romans 6:16 Romans 6:16Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?
American King James Version×– a scripture that was read yesterday:
Romans 6:16 – Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slave whom you obey, whether of sin leading death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
You’re a bond servant whether you like it or not. You simply get to choose which direction that bond service will take you. The natural, carnal mind – it will huff and puff – but in the end it can’t escape reality. That attitude of resistance is built into the carnal mind from a very, very early age. I’m always fascinated observing a little person in what are referred to as the terrible two’s , when they decide that they want to demonstrate that, “I may be less than two feet tall, but I control my destiny.” And you think, “Shorty, you don’t control anything.” But at two years old, you can find those moments in time – especially with more self-willed personalities, where they are bound and determined to be captain of their own ship – and you physically are the same place that God is spiritually, saying, “Well, what you don’t know is, that you have absolutely no control no matter how convinced you are that you do.”
So at the spiritual level, Christ comes along and tells us what we don’t want to hear. And He tells us what many even refuse to accept, like Jonah, and they end up learning it the hard way. Because He comes and tell us, and He says, “You’re all bond servants. This way or that way. You’re a bond servant to Me, which will lead to eternal life, or you’re a bond servant of Satan, which will eventually lead you to eternal death. Take your pick.”
You know, when those who have chosen bond service to Jesus Christ frame their regrets in life…. Let me say that again. I didn’t say to those who have come into the church. I said to those who have chosen to be bond servants of Jesus Christ, they frame their regrets in life the same way. Their regrets are the consequences of their former bond service. Their regrets are not about the church. Their regrets are not about their calling. Their regrets are about all that they did to themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally and to their children, their parents, their siblings when they were in bondage to the elements of this world.
I sat with a young man who broke my heart, when I lived in Columbus, who came to me. He grew up in the church – innocent, naïve. He’d reached a place where he wanted to go his own way. This was a period of time of the hippie age. It was a time of psychedelic drugs. He eventually came to his senses. He had used enough psychedelic drugs. He sat with me as a different human being, now having returned, and he said, “You know, I have done enough damage to my mind mentally. I’m not sure that I will ever fully recover.” He was the prodigal son who came back and realized that “what I left was the best I could possibly have had, and I went out and exercised my freedom, and now I’m not sure that I will ever be free of the consequences.”
Marriage problems. Child rearing abuses. We have all of the things that we, if we could roll the clock back with knowledge and redo, that we would do a very different way. And those are our regrets. Our regrets are not bond service to Jesus Christ, because there are no hidden consequences. When you spiritually live at the address of the man in Deuteronomy 15, you say there are no gotcha’s . There is nothing hiding around the corner to grab a hold of me. Everything goes where it is supposed to go. The gotcha’s were when I thought I was the captain of my own ship and I carried into the church all of the consequences of a former way.
Again, by reflection, back to Matthew 11:30 Matthew 11:30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
American King James Version×– Take My yoke upon you, because My yoke is easy and My burden is light . I’ve never carried a physical burden for obeying God’s laws regarding the care of my body – diet, avoidance of substances harmful to the body, hygiene, quarantine. God has never piled on me, by following His physical ways, any physical consequences. I do carry consequences in my body from breaking principles that I broke, and by the sins of the fathers passed down to the second and third generation, biologically or genetically. I bear those, as do many of you. You grow up to adulthood and you say, “Oh no, I got my genes from…,” and you name the relative to where you got your allergies, you got your sensitivities, you got your diseases that you have very quick susceptibilities to. You didn’t get those from following God’s ways.
That leads to a question brethren. When is bondage freedom and freedom bondage? There are many, many people who are patriotic, and very conservative Christians, who can sing with great passion and full belief the national anthem. I don’t mean the national anthem, Star Spangled Banner , but an anthem of our nation, America the Beautiful . And with great passion and conviction they can sing the words confirm my soul in self-control, thy liberty in law , and mean it as a citizen. Why is there liberty in law and bondage in law religiously? Why can a person sing America the Beautiful , and be grateful to be an American, and just gnash their teeth in absolute disgust at the laws of God? I don’t mind being subordinate to the laws of the land I live in, but I will not be in bondage to God’s instruction. Isn’t law the preventer of anarchy in both the nation and the church? (unintelligible word) that a person begins to see how the right kind of bondage produces freedom.
I live on a corner lot, and then it’s open space to the end of the subdivision, and then there is a stop sign. And the majority of the people that live in our subdivision don’t bother to stop at the stop sign. Some may do a slight hesitation, others just go right on through it. I look at that stop sign, and I realize – because it’s a Y, so you come out of the subdivision, and you could take a left, or you can do a very steeper right. And that steeper right is a little bit blind, because there is a arborvitae hedge. I always think, for myself and whoever may be coming out of the subdivision, roaring right on through that sign, and realizing every time that that sign is what, if obeyed, protects me from ever having to come in on the right side, behind that arborvitae hedge with my left blinker on to enter the subdivision, and get T-boned by somebody coming out the other side, whose liberty is not obedience to the law.
And my wife’s office – she has a little study room upstairs – where I sit and look out – when I’m up there looking out and watching people – I think about this very concept we’re talking about right now. It’s very simple. It’s very basic. In fact, it is so elementary that my liberty – my liberty from being injured, my car damaged – my liberty is in the law of that red sign that says, “Stop before you leave the subdivision.” And I lose my liberty when people ignore the law.
What am I free from? What are you free from? When I sign on as a bond servant of Jesus Christ, what is it I am free from? I want you to turn back to Romans 8. If you and I choose to be bound to Christ and His instructions, Romans 8 tells us what we are free from.
Romans 8:15 – For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear – let me stop right there full stride. I said to you a moment ago, “The shocker – the surprise to the naïve – is, you’re a bond servant no matter which way you go. It’s simply a matter of who is the master.” So, if you think you’re free, the joke’s on you. So he brings this up. He says you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear. Who are you a bond servant of? Well, he just gives you an entrance into it. You’re a bond servant of fear. But you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” You address your Father in Heaven in the dearest and most familiar way. It says there is a bond of closeness there, He is not Father or Pater. He’s Dad. The bondage in the other direction – we got our little hint – was a bondage to fear. This was preceded with the answer to what we just described – verses 11 through 13.
V-11-13 – But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you – so the Spirit of God is in us – He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – okay, we owe a debt. We’re back to bond service. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. If that’s where you say, “That’s who I’m bond servant to,” he says, “Okay, if you’re a debtor to the flesh to live according to the flesh, then the result is you’re going to die. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
So, when I am free, what am I free from as a bond servant of Jesus Christ? I don’t have to spend my life – I don’t have to spend any of my life – thinking about beyond this life in a negative way. I don’t have to spend a single, solitary moment wondering what follows the last moment of consciousness in this life, because I have an assurance. I have a guarantee. I have a written promise. Without it, you can be as bravado as you want to be – you can be as macho as you want to be – but the day eventually comes when you’ve got to look reality in the face, and say, “I’m going to die, and there is not a single, solitary thing I can do about it.” He says, “That is bond service you walked away from – has no hold on you, has no ownership of you, has no control of you.”
Hebrews, chapter 2 says it even plainer. There are multiple places that will say it, and they will say it in different ways. Romans did a fine job, but Hebrews says it even plainer – Hebrews, chapter 2, verse 14:
Hebrews 2:14-15 Hebrews 2:14-15 14 For as much 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;
15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
American King James Version×– Inasmuch then, as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Spend your whole life – when you think about it – knowing you’re going to die. That’s bondage. It’s bondage, because human beings who are healthy – it’s very, very sad the world we’ve gotten into with the level of unhealthiness mentally – but a healthy person wakes up every day saying, “A new day – new things to do, new things to look at.” As Hebrews made it very plain, we are free, because He died and He took that off our plate. We no longer are under bondage to that frame of mind – that way of thinking.
Turn with me to 2 Peter. 2 Peter describes another form of bondage that we are free from – which is, in one way, similar or the same, and in another way is quite different. 2 Peter 2, and verse 9 – it says:
2 Peter 2:9 2 Peter 2:9The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished:
American King James Version×– T he Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. Okay. I’m sorry. I read you not the verse that I wanted to read you. Put a one in front of that, and we’ll look at verse 19. It says:
V-19 – While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves to corruption. For by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. So, we’re back to this, “You’re not driving the bus.” By whomever you are overcome, you are a slave, so pick which one you wish to be slave to.
Corruption. We touched on that yesterday. Leavening is seen as the bloating of pride and arrogance and all those things that…”I’m important. You should respect me. You should listen to me,” and all of the puff, puff, puff. That’s one side of what leavening is. The other is, it’s corrupting power. It’s ability to take something that is in a pure state, and degrade it, and turn it into something that is completely changed. And so corruption is brought in here – and it’s a very valid term, as we have moved out of the Days of Unleavened Bread, but are still for the most part probably still unleavened.
Okay, what was he talking about in verse 19? Well, they promise you liberty. They themselves are slaves to corruption for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. Peter railed against that – and I do mean he railed against it, starting in verse 9. So I’m going to read. We’re going to read from verse 9 up to what we just read, and that will tell you what he was talking about – about being brought in to slavery, to corruption. He said, “You know, brethren, you need to understand something” – in verse 9:
V-9-18 – The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation – it is God who knows how – to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. He knows how to parse out. He knows how to save those who are bond servants of Christ, and he knows how to deal with those who have said they want to go the other way. And he says: you know, especially , verse 10 – those who walk according to the flesh, in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. And now he goes on a terror.He says: They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. So an angel, who at this time in existence, is way above where we are, they don’t rail against even the evil, and yet even the evil rail against everyone. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the ways of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness. But he was rebuked for his iniquity – a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. So, as I said, he went on a terror. The whole terror had to deal with, what was one who chose to be a bond servant of the Lord free from? And the answer was, they were free from corruption.
Now as I said, corruption carried the whole gamut. Every single conduct that I read to you, that Peter was not happy about, is a corruption, isn’t it? It’s a corrupt way of thinking, a corrupt way of acting, or a corrupt way of doing. And he said, when you’re totally converted…and you know, we’re right back to yesterday and what it means to be in the truth . Those things have gone somewhere else. They’re not a part of your life. They do no corrupt your conduct today, and they don’t corrupt life to the point where you live with the consequences. He says you are free. You are free from the bondage from corruption.
As Peter points out here, it’s a huge overarching term for every piece of conduct that carries with it a consequence. In essence, what he’s saying is, it’s being a slave to anything that causes ruin in life, or spoilage to life – take something beautiful in life and turns it rotten, sour and ugly. When you make a choice to follow God’s teaching, to the degree you choose to be Christ’s bond servant, you remove yourself from bondage to things that cause ruin.
Even people who do it incrementally, saying, “I’ve got only one foot in and one foot out” can still see that the foot that is in is not receiving consequences, and sadness, and sorrows that the foot that’s out is producing. It’s not rocket science. It’s really very, very obvious. And, as we know, the end result of literal corruption brings us full circle all the way back to where we started. And that is, it all ends in death. It ends in death, both spiritually and physically. Organically, you’re dead. Spiritually, you’re even deader.
So here we are. This is what bond service is all about. As I said this, sermon is about you. This sermon is about me. The question, as we move away from the Days of Unleavened Bread, is really how many of you stand alongside Peter, Paul, James, John, and Jude, and say, “Let me join the line. I like where you have chosen to be.”
How many of us have joined the man in Deuteronomy 15? Here and here. How many of us, like that man, have said to our Lord, “I have absolutely no desire to go away from You. I love You. I love Your house. It has been under Your care and Your guidance that I have prospered now and will live forever.” If this is where you are, well, your label is simple. You are a bond servant of Jesus Christ.