Even though I know the truth of it by experience, the question is: How can a person become free by becoming a bondservant to Jesus Christ? It works, but why? The natural reasoning says that being a slave of anyone, even God, is anything but freedom.
The first thing to understand is that we are all serving something or someone. It might be our job, our family, our reputation, another person, but it is usually ourselves. I am my own taskmaster. However, God says . . .
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Romans 6:16–19)
Chambers points out what these verses say; I am responsible for choosing whom I will serve. If I am a slave to myself and my own passions, it is because I yielded myself to myself. If I am a servant of God, it is because I have yielded myself to Him.
Again, self is a horrid taskmaster. Chambers uses the example of lust. He says we cannot break its bondage should it rule our lives. Lust is: ‘I must have it at once,’ whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind. Once yielded, people may hate themselves for it, but they cannot escape it. This is true for addictions and anything else that people allow to control their lives.
Our human power is useless. Whatever kind of bondage holds me, the only escape from it is by humble surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is as Paul preached . . . He brings “deliverance to the captives.”
If anyone ever says, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like” they soon find out that the habit is far stronger than they assumed. Christians might sing, “He will break every fetter,” but live in obvious slavery to themselves, talking only about their interests, concerned only what makes them look good. Yielding to Jesus breaks all forms of such slavery. He sets free those who are captured by the desire to “be their own person.”
I can easily see the ball and chain of bad habits, obvious sinful lifestyles and patterns. It is more difficult to recognize that even good habits can dominate my life, not because they are somehow evil, but because they are ruling what I do, how I think and talk. Instead of abiding in the Lordship of Christ, I’m a slave to something else – having my own way. What a tyrant that is!
It may take a long time to realize the prison bars of self. It may also take just as long to escape that prison. However, the only way to do it is by grabbing hold of the outstretched hand of Jesus, refusing to let go of Him, doing whatever He says, and going wherever He leads.