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“YE ARE NOT YOUR OWN”
by Philip Owen

 

Few human conditions so offend the flesh as that of slavery. Someone has said that it is the universal cry of the human soul to be free. One of the historic foundations of our nation was that of liberty, and as Americans we have long cherished the ideals enshrined in our Bill of Rights, which safeguards liberties that human governments tend to steal. The thought of oppressive government is anathema to most of us.   Moving from the political to the personal level, we find the idea of enslavement repugnant on any level. Such is our fallen nature that we rebel against any restraint on our actions—whether it come from government, employers, parents, or our churches. Given the ethos of our American culture and the inherent rebellion of our flesh then, it is small wonder (though there is no excuse for the fact) that we look askance at today’s text: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:19, 20).
 
            The fact of our slavery. Paul makes a bald-faced statement concerning Christians: “ye are not your own.” This is a simple, non-negotiable statement of reality concerning the body, soul, and spirit—the entire being—of the believer. When Christ delivered us from the bondage of sin and the slavery of eternal death, we were not given options A, B, C, or D about our new status. Quite simply, we are not our own. The truth is that we never were our own. Once we were under bondage to sin and Satan. Having been born again, we are under bondage to God in Christ. The Christian who believes he has the right to make his life’s choices in accord with his own will is a rebel who is sinning against the Lord who bought him. The Scripture is clear: believers are slaves of Christ (see: Acts 20:28; Rom. 12:1, 2; I Cor. 3:16, 17; 7:23; II Cor. 5:15; Eph. 4:1; I Pet. 1:18, 19; 4:1, 2).
 
            The nature of our slavery. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God” is the way Paul expresses the nature of our slavery. It is a slavery that is not imposed externally upon us, but one that results from the sovereign God taking up permanent residence in our hearts in the Person of the Holy Spirit. God is an absolute despot regarding our lives, but His despotism is altogether benign. The indwelling Spirit is given, among other reasons, to guide our every thought and action to the end that God might be glorified. But in yielding our wills to His, we receive only blessing. For to be enslaved to God, though not always pleasant to the flesh, is to assure that all things will work together for our good (i.e., those “called according to his purpose”).
 
            The cost of our slavery. “For ye are bought with a price.” Believers are slaves because God purchased us at the price of His Son’s suffering and death. Our purchase involved no cheap baubles, entailed no bartering of worthless items. It required the Son to forsake His heavenly glory, take on frail human flesh, endure the struggles and sufferings inherent in that state, die an undeserved, ignominious, excruciating death, and endure all the wrath that His holy Father must vent against sin. No greater price could be exacted. Were all the universe given in ransom, it would be insufficient; were all the sufferings of all people for all eternity brought to the transaction, they would be insufficient. Only the infinite price paid by Christ was sufficient to deliver us from the slavery of sin to be the slaves of God.
 

            The consequences of our slavery. “Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. That slaves are not “free moral agents” is a given. Our old masters—Satan and the flesh— compelled us to commit sin and to go to hell. Our new master commands us to be and to do that which honors our God and Savior, denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily, and following Him. Once it was impossible for us either to obey or to please God. Now, by the power of the indwelling Spirit we can do both and have been ordained as redeemed slaves to do so (Eph. 2:10). He requires nothing less. Nothing less will honor Him. Nothing less will bless us. Every time we exercise our “freedom” to choose our will we sin and dishonor our Redeemer. May we truly desire to honor our Lord as His faithful blood-bought slaves. 

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