||Unworthy Slaves of Christ
aymon de albatrus
a slave of Christ Jesus
"So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have only done what was our duty."" (Luk 17:10)
"11 There is none that understands, there is "not one that seeks after God. 12 All turned away, [they] became worthless together, not [one is] doing goodness, not so much as one!" (Rom 3:11-12)
"Then be humbled under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in time;" (1Pe 5:6)
We are unprofitable servants, indeed unworthy Slaves. We have merited nothing, nor have we benefited God in any possible way. If He rewards us, it will be matter of unmerited favour, it is all of Grace (Eph 2:8), and we have added not a single iota to His Glory.
As Christians our situation is as follows:
Our services are not profitable to God (Job 22:2); He does not need our aid, and His essential happiness and Glory will not be increased an iota by our puny efforts.
Grace to do His will comes from Him only, and all the praise of that will be due to Him alone (Phi 2:13).
All that we do is what is our duty, and we do that badly as our Lord attests (Luk 17:10); we cannot lay claim to having rendered any service that will bind Him to show us favour; and
Our best services are mingled with imperfections. We come far short of His glory (Rom 3:23); we do not serve Him as sincerely, and cheerfully, and faithfully as we ought; we are far, very far from the example set us by the Saviour; and if we are saved and rewarded, it will be because God will be merciful to our unrighteousness, and will remember our iniquities no more, (Heb 8:12, Psa 103:12). Praise be unto Him forever and ever and ever. Amen
Most translations show for Luk 17:10 (and for other appearances of the same word) "servant/s", but the original Greek has "DOULOS" which means ‘Slave/s’. In fact, in the NT the words usually translated in our English Bibles as ‘servant/s’ (about 150 times) is in the Greek ‘slave/s’ (doulos). This is because the word "slave" has unsavoury connotations in our culture and so the palliative ‘servant’ is used, but the Bible quite plainly uses and clearly means "SLAVE".
But in contemporary Christianity the language is anything but slave language. It is about freedom. It is about liberation. It is about democracy. It is about health, wealth, prosperity, finding our own fulfilment, gratifying our own dream, finding our own purpose. We often hear that God loves you unconditionally and wants you to be all you want to be. He wants to fulfil every ambition, every desire, every hope, every dream for you are worth so much. In fact, there are books being written about dreams as if they are gifts from God which God then having given them is bound to fulfil. Personal fulfilment, personal liberation, personal satisfaction, all bound up in an old term in evangelical Christianity, a personal relationship. How many times have we heard that the gospel offers people a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Hey! Exactly what does that mean? Even Satan has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and it’s not a very good one. Every living being has a personal relationship with the living God of one kind or another, leading to one end or another.
It is shocking to note that the New Testament in its original text is different from any English version that we have. Virtually all of them have found a way to "soften to our sensitivities" what is an absolutely critical element of truth. In fact, the word "slave" appears in the New Testament at least 150 times in the original text. But you will find that only a few versions translate the Greek word "doulos" as "slave" and only once or twice and it will be translated "slave" when, it refers to actual slavery, or it refers to some kind of bondage to an inanimate reality. But whenever it is personalized, the translators seem unwilling to translate it "slave."
For example, in Matthew 6:24 Jesus said this, "No man can be a slave to two masters." What does your Bible say? "No man can serve two masters." The favourite word used for slave is servant, a more palatable English word. Very often bondservant is used which tends to move in the right direction but not all the way to the correct word ‘slave’. There are about a double dozen established English translations of the New Testament. You will be hard pressed to find only one of them that always translate doulos as slave. The translation that always translates doulos as slave gives an entire different sense of our relationship to Christ. We do have a personal relationship to Jesus Christ, we are His slaves. That’s putting it as simply and honestly as it can be put.
There are plenty other words for servant, such as ‘diakonos’, but there’s only one word for slave, ‘doulos and sundoulos’. Yet in the history of the evangelical translation of the Greek into the English for ‘doulos’, all the translators consistently have avoided the use of the word ‘slave’.
This word doulos in the Greek should never be translated anything but slave, absolutely never. Here is a poignant and famous verse: "And his lord said to him, Well [done], good and faithful slave. You were faithful over a few things; I will set you over many. Enter into the joy of your lord." (Mat 25:21 LIT), Look at your Bible an you will find the word ‘slave’ (doulos) translated ‘servant’.
Indeed, independently of what arrogant mankind says, we are ALL slaves. Since Adam, everyone throughout history has been enslaved either to sin or to God. The degree to which one is disobedient slave to Christ, one is a slave to sin, and there are no other options. The only liberty that one has as a Christian is to choose who you will obey - Christ or Satan.
We are either slaves of God or slaves of Satan (Rom 6:16); there is no other possibility. The only one free person is God that has freedom of Himself. God does grant us some freedom, but it is all of grace and there is no such thing as "human rights" for that would put God under some sort of bondage to us and He would then not be totally free, by definition. We are slaves and indeed also unworthy ones. Even in the ungodly system of democracy we live under we are not free, as we are made to believe. Try to do something against the man imposed ‘democratic laws’, and you will soon see how "free" you are.
If people think of themselves as being something and totally free (even from God), they are deluding themselves for Scripture refutes them: "All the nations [are] as nothing before Him; to Him they are reckoned less than nothing and emptiness." (Isa 40:17)
The freedom of God is not like human ‘freedom’. God is totally free to grant some freedom to His creatures, yet He is also free to control the destiny of these creatures, to overrule their freedom in fulfilment of His own ends (Pro 16:9). In divine righteousness, God's freedom from the very beginning imposes penalties on abuses of our limited freedom. In divine grace, God freely provides a saving outcome even for sinful creatures. This is authentic freedom, and it transcends, by far, our thinking about freedom.
The most important thing to God is His Glory. ALL He does is for His Glory. Even haughty mankind was created for His glory: "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man." (1Co 11:7) Man exists for the Glory of God, not for the glory of mankind and ALL we do has to be directed towards that end. God is not there to please us, but the whole of our existence is to glorify Him, if that were at all possible for us unworthy slaves. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." (Ecc 12:13)
Paul called himself "doulos, i.e. slave" in Romans, "Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ" (Rom 1:1), the same to the Philippians; "Paul and Timothy, slaves of Jesus Christ" (Phi 1:1), and to Titus, "Paul, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ" (Titus 1:1). Not only Paul saw himself a Slave but also James that wrote, "James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (James 1:1) and also, the apostle Peter wrote, "Simon Peter, a slave of Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1).
A slave has no rights, and no possessions, all his needs are supplied by his master. And an obedient slave only does the will of his master. The apostle Paul implores us to "present your bodies a living sacrifice." But many Christians today would rather have their "liberty" to do whatever is not explicitly prohibited by Scripture, and do what is right in their own eyes. (Isa 5:21)
A slave owes service to his master. If he neglects to perform assignments given him, he is not worth (i.e., unprofitable) what the master paid to acquire him. Slave owners of antiquity purchased their slaves with earthly possessions. Christ has purchased us with a high price, His blood. (1Co 6:20; Act 20:28)
The price He paid for us is so high (His Holy Blood) that we can never render sufficient service to equal this payment. But the Saviour does not expect that we repay Him, for none of us can recompense a sacrifice that is "infinite and eternal".
As slaves of Christ, we owe Him everything. All that we have, including the earth that He created and our very own life belongs to Him and we are merely just stewards. As such, we pledge to protect the Lord's property. Indeed ALL our duty is to Fear God, and keep his commandments in order to bring to Him all the glory due to His thrice Holy name.
Paradoxically, in some sense, to be submitted to Christ in everything and dead to self, is the most freedom that anyone can have. Jesus said, "He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal." (Joh 12:25) and on the same inspiration Paul said "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal 2:20)
Our Beloved Lord and Master said: "If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." (Joh 8:36). To Christ alone it belongs to make souls free from the slavery of the law, sin, death, hell, &c. Now, our Saviour says, this is the true freedom, only He can set us free from a base, servile, slavish mind servant to corruption, sin and lusts. It is only the freedom which He gives unto souls, that is the true and perfect liberty, and this alone is worthy of the name of being "free indeed".
The long and the short of this story is that human being have been created in some way free of other human beings, but NOT free of God for not only He has created us, but He keeps us alive for: "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; ……." (Act 17:28) and if God were to stop to do that we would simply disappear into the nothingness from whence we came from. In that context we are all but slaves, some to the service of God and the rest to the service of Satan. A slave is one who is owned by another and all of us are owned by God, as our creator to dispose as He wills: "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand." (Deu 32:39).
We must understand that we that are "the called" are indeed "Jesus’ Slaves" but at the same time we are the "Free in Christ" doing His will most willingly: "For the one called a slave in the Lord is a freed man of the Lord. And likewise, the one called a free man is a slave of Christ." (1Co 7:22) "….. but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart," (Eph 6:6)
Indeed Christ for the unbound mercy for His elect calls His slaves that love (Agape) Him and do His commands "friends": "If you love Me, keep My commandments." "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you." (Joh 14:15; 15:14) "I no longer call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his lord does. But I called you friends, because all things which I heard from My Father I made known to you." (Joh 15:15)
Glory to the Highest be unto our merciful, all loving God, the ONLY God. AMEN.