Now, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute. I’ve heard of Christians being referred to as servants, as sheep, as sons, as the bride of Christ, and as the body of Christ but where do you get the idea that we are slaves? We’ve been freed from slavery, right?” And I would say yes. Servants, sheep, sons, etc. those are all metaphors the Bible uses to describe our relationship with Christ and the Father. But the Bible also uses the metaphor of slavery. Perhaps more than some of us realize.
John MacArthur, in his sermon “Slaves for Christ”, did a word study that showed that in most English translations of the New Testament there has been a mistranslation of an important word. That word is the Greek word, “doulos” (doo-loss) which means “slave”. This word, doulos, appears over 130 times in the original Greek text of the New Testament. But it is not translated as “slave” in the English versions. In fact the King James Version of the New Testament uses the word slave only once. Instead of translating doulos as slave, which is its true meaning, the English versions translated it as servant.
For example, look at Matthew 25:21. Most of us are pretty familiar with this passage. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’” That’s not an accurate translation. It should read, “Well done, good and faithful slave.”
Colossians 3:24, “It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” The more accurate translation is, “It is the Lord Christ to whom you are enslaved.”
Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Again, the most accurate translation should read, “No one can be a slave to two masters…You cannot be a slave to both God and Money.”
Now you may think, “Okay, so it should read slave instead of servant. So what? Why make such a big deal about the way one word is translated?” It’s important because there is a difference between being a slave and being a servant and how each one relates to their masters. And since the Bible uses the metaphor of a slave and not a servant to describe the life of the Christian in relation to Christ, then we need to know what it means to be a slave.
II. What Does It Mean To Be A Slave?
So, let’s look at some characteristics of a slave and how they define our relationship with Christ.
A. A Slave Is Owned By Someone Else
First of all, a slave is owned by someone else. You are not your own. When you are a slave you belong to someone else. You have been bought and paid for. You are someone else’s property.
This is totally different from what it means to be a servant. A servant is employed and paid a wage for work done. They can quit and walk away at any time. They do not belong to their employer.
A slave doesn’t have those choices. They have no say in what work they want to do. They cannot quit if they don’t like the job they are assigned. And they are not paid for the work they do, either.
Now, think of what this means in your relationship with Christ Jesus. You are His slave because you have been bought and paid for by His blood. John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God loved you so much that He bought you and paid for you with the very life of His Son.