Making our escape from slavery

By Robert Oliver - Contributing columnist

Slavery is defined in one dictionary as, “bondage to a master or household”. Such a definition is hardly needed as we are all familiar with what slavery is. In most cases, the first thing an American thinks of when the word “slavery” is uttered is the slavery in this country in the person of the black race. This example of slavery stands in the forefront of our minds. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President of the United States, issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, to go into force on January 1, 1863, freeing all slaves in the United States and making slavery illegal from that point on. There is no doubt that said slavery was cruel, harsh, an abomination and a real dark mark on the history of our nation. However, as bad as that slavery was, we wish to express concern for a much darker and much more far reaching form of slavery that existed before that slavery, during the time of that slavery and is continuing on to this day; and also present the means of escape from this terrible plague. The slavery we are in reference to is slavery to sin.

Before discussing the escape, we need to note the reality of such slavery and the reason it is an even greater abomination than physical slavery. First the reality of the slavery of sin. There are a couple of verses that should serve to show said reality. Jesus once pointed this out when He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). The apostle Paul put it this way, he said, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (Rom. 6:16) and Peter wrote, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (II Pet. 2:19). In every one of those passages, the word translated “servants) is the same word used for a slave. Now, this is why such a slavery is even more vile and contemptible than the physical type, the physical slavery last at most only unto one leaves this earthly life, whereas this spiritual bondage to sin has eternal consequences. Paul once wrote, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). Peter said that, “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away” (I Pet. 1:24).

In presenting our plan of escape from this terrible slavery, we wish to use a great illustration found in the pages of the Old Testament, the escape from slavery of the nation of Israel found in the book of Exodus. Space will not allow too much detail, nor even the quoting of the various scriptures, but we will provide the points and the scripture references so that one can look it up for themselves. Israel was indeed slaves in bondage to Egypt, in fact the text states they were forced to serve with rigour (Exo. 1:13-14). God sent a messenger (Moses) who was both prophet and deliverer, equipping him with all that he needed to get the job done (Exo. 3:1-4:17). The people then had a responsibility to hear that messenger of God and obey his commands. After the ten plagues that broke the will of Pharaoh, Israel fled to the brink of the Red Sea. They had left the city of Pharaoh, but they had not yet escaped him. Having changed his mind, Pharaoh led his army to overtake Israel. God parted the Red Sea, the nation of Israel crossed on dry ground and when Pharaoh and his army attempted to follow, they were washed away by the waters of the Red Sea. It was not until then that Israel was actually successful in escaping the slavery of Egypt (Exo. 4:9-28). Thus a summary of their escape from Egyptian slavery.

Now to the one that matters most to us, our escape from the bondage of sin. As with Israel’s escape, it begins by God sending a messenger with the words of salvation. Moses had prophesied of such taking place saying, “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you (Acts 3:22). Jesus was equipped with all that He needed to get the job done. He sent the Holy Spirit to reveal all God’s message to the apostles (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13; I Cor. 2:9-13). It is at this point that as with the nation of Israel, so with us today, we have a responsibility to hear that messenger, believe the message and obey all commands of the message (Mark 16:15:16). Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9). The final step wherein one passes from the bondage of sin to the freedom from that sin is when they, like Israel pass through the water. Paul told the Romans that they had died to sin, been baptized into Christ and into His death and that they were then raised to walk in newness of life as Christ had been raised (Rom. 6:1-4). He then told them that when they had obeyed that form of doctrine, they were then made free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). Their sin that had held them in bondage was washed away in the waters of baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16). That is the way that we too can escape such slavery.

By Robert Oliver

Contributing columnist

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Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]