Summary: Christians are free in Christ; they are no longer to permit themselves to be enslaved by any appetite or attitude.
“The free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
This particular day has been designated “Freedom Sunday” in a many churches and denominations throughout North America. It is a tragic truth that slavery has never been abolished in our world. Throughout the world, multiplied millions of people live in slavery—people actually chained and held as chattel or condemned to serfdom through impoverishment. Again, people—especially women—are condemned to sexual slavery to serve the degraded desires of wicked men. Though slavery is a terrible sin, this summation cannot begin to address the slavery to sin that binds many in this world. It is impossible, given the constraints of time imposed on our worship this day, to address the spectrum of servitude.
Undoubtedly, some of the churches participating in this Freedom Sunday will prove incapable of rising above a focus on the sociological issues. Let’s acknowledge that to the individual who is held in thraldom—whatever the form the individual’s slavery assumes—slavery ensures a horrible existence. Christians should be focused on seeking liberty for any who are so enslaved.
It is surprising to learn that slavery in Mauritania was criminalised only in August 2007. Moreover, estimates indicate that up to 600,000 men, women and children—twenty percent of the population—are enslaved in that nation to this date. The enslavement especially of Dinka tribesmen continues in Sudan to this day with as many as 200,000 black south Sudanese children and women living in slavery. It is instructive to note that it was only in 1962 that President John F. Kennedy stood firm in demanding that Saudi Arabia cease the practise of slavery. Unfortunately, there are multiple recent news reports exposing forced servitude perpetuated by Saudi royalty living in the United States and in Great Britain. All these indicators suggest that the practise of slavery has never actually ceased in Muslim lands. Christian Solidarity and Christian Freedom International are two groups that have focused world attention on the issue, exposing the enslavement of Christian and animist tribesmen in Sudan in particular.