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Tuesday, 25 October 2011 22:51

Moriel South Africa Missions Newsletter October 2011

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Please click here to read The Rainbow Gazette November 2011

ARE YOU A SLAVE OR A SON?

Romans 8:12-25

By Pastor Dave Royle

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh"”

13     for aif you are living according to the flesh, you 1must die; but if by the Spirit you are bputting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

14     For all who are abeing led by the Spirit of God, these are bsons of God.

15     For you ahave not received a spirit of slavery 1leading to fear again, but you bhave received 2a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "cAbba! Father!"

16     The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are bchildren of God,

17     and if children, aheirs also, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, bif indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time aare not worthy to be compared with the bglory that is to be revealed to us.

19     For the aanxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for bthe revealing of the csons of God.

20     For the creation awas subjected to bfutility, not of its own will, but cbecause of Him who subjected it, 1in hope

21     that athe creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

22     For we know that the whole creation agroans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

23     aAnd not only this, but also we ourselves, having bthe first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves cgroan within ourselves, dwaiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, ethe redemption of our body.

24     For ain hope we have been saved, but bhope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?

25     But aif we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

A few years ago while watching a Television program, a story was told of an elderly man. He was a bit of a hermit, kept himself to himself. His house was a mess, it had not been painted for years. In his yard there were stacks and stacks of rubbish that he had collected. The curtains to his home were always shut and the place was over run with vermin. It wasn't a suprize that it was sometime before the neighbors reported something amiss and reported this to the Police. Sadly amongst the squalor the old man's body was found. The reality was he had something called Diogenes syndrome a condition that turns a person into a cynical, miserly hoarder who would rather live in filth. As social workers began to dig through his property to find out exactly who he was, they were shocked. Thousands of pounds were stuffed into his mattress, he did not trust banks. He had a very well-to-do family in fact he had a title of sorts and yet here he was, living amidst such self imposed squalor.

This made me think and what I thought was this. Spiritually are we any different from this old man? Is there a spiritual form of Diogenes syndrome that affects the believer, leaving us spiritual paupers, revelling in the muck and the dust when in Christ the reality is we have a truly wonderful inheritance that we fail to touch?

I want us to consider two questions and the two questions are

  • Are you a slave and if so a slave to who or what?
  • Are you a son and if so a son to who or what?

That's what our text is about, its about sonship and slavery, its about the fruit of slavery verses the fruit of adoption.

The concepts of slavery and adoption found in scripture and in the early church are very strong indeed and if we are to understand what the Apostle Paul is speaking about we must have an understanding of what would have come immediately into the reader's mind at the time of writing.

Concerning Slavery

The Greek word in the text is δουλεία douleia. Paul is using the word to make a negative comparison between slavery and sonship.  First of all in the two natures, our sinful nature and our spiritual nature in Christ. The sinful brings bondage the spiritual brings freedom. In fact this is observed in Rom 7:14 onwards..

Secondly Paul switches from our nature to our position in Christ, our sinful nature makes us slaves but our position in Christ finds us as co- heirs with Him.

Slavery douleia means to be in a place of servitude, to be in a position where a person does not possess his own life. This was a well known concept at the time of writing

because within the Roman empire one in two people were a slave of some kind. Schaff has the following:

Attica numbered, according to Ctesicles, under the governorship of Demetrius the Phalerian (309 b.c.), 400,000 slaves, 10,000 foreigners, and only 21,000 free citizens. In Sparta the disproportion was still greater.

As to the Roman empire, Gibbon estimates the number of slaves under the reign of Claudius at no less than one half of the entire population, i.e., about sixty million (I. 52, ed. Milman, N. Y., 1850). According to Robertson there were twice as many slaves as free citizens, and Blair (in his work on Roman slavery, Edinb. 1833, p. 15) estimates over three slaves to one free man between the conquest of Greece (146 b.c.) and the reign of Alexander Severna (a.d. 222"“235). The proportion was of course very different in the cities and in the rural districts. The majority of the plebs urbana were poor and unable to keep slaves; and the support of slaves in the city was much more expensive than in the country. Marquardt assumes the proportion of slaves to free men in Rome to have been three to two. Friedländer (Sittengeschichte Roms. l. 55, fourth ed.) thinks it impossible to make a correct general estimate, as we do not know the number of wealthy families. But we know that Rome a.d. 24 was thrown into consternation by the fear of a slave insurrection (Tacit. Ann. IV. 27). [1]

Slavery is one of the oldest institutions, from before 3000BC records show that captives from war were used as expendable labor. There were people who sold themselves into slavery to escape poverty or to pay off debts.

Slavery was governed in scripture and also in the civil law of other cultures. The law of Hammarabi declared that families could not be sold into slavery for more that 3 years. With the Jews it was 6 years. (Deut 15:8) The law worked around the Sabbatical years and Jubilee. In Paul's time because slavery was so common and control needed that harsher controls introduced, for example if a slave attacked his master, every other slave in the house would lose their lives and even earlier in the days of the Patriarchs, what Joseph's brothers did to him with the attack, imprisonment and forced sale was seen as a capital offence.

So the reader of Romans when he reads Paul's letter had these things come into his mind regarding the issue of slavery. That it was a common practice that touched probably half the population, a place of servitude with tight controls, where a person had no control over his own life.

Concerning Adoption

Then we have the matter of adoption. The Greek word is υἱοθεσία huiothesia; and it literally means the placing of a child. It is a word used in the New Testament 5 times:

For you ahave not received a spirit of slavery 1leading to fear again, but you bhave received 2a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "cAbba! Father!" Rom 8:15

aAnd not only this, but also we ourselves, having bthe first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves cgroan within ourselves, dwaiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, ethe redemption of our body. Rom 8:23

who are aIsraelites, to whom belongs bthe adoption as sons, and cthe glory and dthe covenants and ethe giving of the Law and fthe temple service and gthe promises, Rom 9:4

so that He might redeem those who were under 1the Law, that we might receive the adoption as asons Gal 4:5

He apredestined us to badoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, caccording to the 2kind intention of His will, Eph 1:5

If you notice the term adoption was peculiar to the Apostle Paul.

In The Old Testament the term is only alluded too and that in the context of making a slave your son. For example:

A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully,

And will share in the inheritance among brothers. Prov 17:2

He who pampers his slave from childhood  Will in the end find him to be a son. Prov 29;21

Other instances to consider would be the adoption of Moses by the daughter of Pharaoh  (Exodus 2:10) also the adoption of Esther by Mordecai (Esther 2:7)

In Roman society, adoption was common among the well-off for several reasons. First of all to take into your household the orphan of a brother or close friend. Secondly, if you were childless a son could be placed in your family. Thirdly, the reward to a faithful slave. (We all remember the scene in Ben Hur when the Roman General adopted him as his son) There were two parts to Roman Adoption. The first part was the private arrangement between the parties and the other was the formal proclamation  that had to be done publically. When this was done the child could then legally go from calling him master to calling him father.

To summarize, the mindset of the reader would conclude that an adoptive son is a child that is deliberately chosen and placed by the father and conferred upon the child would be all the rights, privileges and duties of a true son.

This is why in theological terminology we see in Elwells Dictionary of Theology the following:

"Theologically the act of God by which believers become members of God's family with all the privileges and obligations of family membership"

So these are the concepts that came into the minds of Paul's readers practically and spiritually. We will look at the spiritual side a little later because the early church as we see recorded is full of the examples of the adoption of orphans and I am going to be very bold with my next few words by saying that the adoption of orphans is of grave concern today. We are in an age where in China babies who are born the wrong sex are left exposed to die on roof tops or in fields. This is also what they did with unwanted children in Rome, but the early church would collect the children and adopt them as their own. The church in China is reported to be doing this today, Praise God.

Here is South Africa, TV adverts have been pleading with people to open their hearts with love and adopt the 2 million orphans that have been left mainly due to the HIV pandemic. That is children left exposed on rubbish dumps, children in distress, children institutionalized or growing up on the inner city streets begging. I tell you this is a challenge to the church, no an indictment upon the church that so many are left uncared for, abused and unloved when we have the privilege and the capacity to take a child into our homes and love them, nurture them with Christ as the very foundation. South Africa, do you want to see the church grow by a million over night? Then why not have the heart of Christ and every family that professes faith in Him, just take in a child to love as your own?

Let me encourage every child of God reading this, you who have been adopted into God's family with full rights and privileges, please adopt a child. I am convinced that the body of Christ will be judged by our Heavenly Father for this terrible neglect.

So how do you know if you're a slave?

Well there are many types of slaves, Jesus said in John 8:34 "truly truly I say unto you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin". What is sin? Elwell says "In Biblical perspective sin is not only an act of wrong-doing but a state of alienation from God" In other words wrong-doing enslaves us and alienates us from God and when we are alienated from God that's where the spirit of slavery leads to fear. Let me tell you the mark of a slave is the mark of fear.

In Paul's culture a slave feared mistreatment, a slave feared death, a slave feared sale to a harsh master, he had no control over his life, he was totally in the hands of another.

Today, it gives me no joy to say so, the mark of many a Christian is fear, fear of life, fear of death, fear of failure, fear of people, fear of poverty and fear of persecution. Let me ask a question of us all, what is it you are afraid of? In your life situation have you become a slave to fear, a slave to sin, a slave to things, a slave to self?

The world around us is full of fear, it is a world in slavery, even actual slavery in our progressive evolved societies has not been eradicated.

According to studies done by anti-slavery groups, there are currently more slaves today than at any time in history! Three quarters are female and over half are children. It is believed that there are around 27 million people in slavery right now. Furthermore, this number does not include people who are not technically slaves but are in a form of servitude tantamount to slavery. This is sometimes called "unfree labor". The average slave today costs around $90 "“ whereas in the past they cost upwards of $40,000 (in today's money). A study done at Berkeley University estimates that there are around 10,000 slaves in the United States at the moment. [Source]

So what is it that enslaves you today? What is it that hinders us from walking free as a child of God?

The Good News

Well brother and sister the good news is this, verse 15 says "˜for you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear" In other words if you are in Christ, slavery and fear are not God's plan for you, rather "˜But you have received a Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out Abba Father". In other words when you were regenerated by the Spirit of God you were given the nature of sonship and through sanctification you begin to act as His child. Now through adoption you have been given the position of children of God, the trouble is very few are living the fact. We are like the old man found dead in his rubbish, when the reality was something totally different. Are we in fact living a spiritual Diogenes syndrome? The reality is Christian, we have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear we have received a spirit of adoption, placed and chosen by the Father with all the privileges and duties that go with it.

So what are the fruit and benefits of being God's children?

"For all who are being led by the Spirit of God these are sons of God" v14

If you are a child of God the Spirit of God will lead you, you see a slave is pushed, he's prodded like cattle but a child of God is led by His word. The slave makes his decisions according to what has enslaved him, according to his fears but the child of God in contrast will say "what would God in His Word have me do"? That's the benefit of being a child of God of being part of God's family, directed and being led by His Spirit.

Secondly, we exchange an impersonal master for a personal Father. v15 says "we cry out Abba Father". Gerard Groningen writes "Abba is used as a personal name of God in the New Testament (used 3 times) it is an Aramaic word which is translated Father, the name expresses a very intimate and inseparable relationship between Christ and the Father and believers and God"

The word is used in Jewish households today to mean "˜dad", this is no formal title but the name a true child gives a true father. There is a time when we call Him Lord or κύριος kurios, and in the world this is always true of a slave to a master. But a child calls Him Abba. Let me ask, do you have that personal relationship with a loving Father today?

Thirdly our next benefit is our security in Him v16 says "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God".

With all our children, I have never had one of them ask to see their birth certificates to make sure I was their father. I have never been asked to give a sample of my DNA by any of my natural children. Whether my children are my natural ones or my grafted in ones they all know that I am their father. In a sense, my spirit bears witness with theirs that I am their abba and they are my children.

This expresses itself (all love must be demonstrative if its really Agape) in my love, provision, protection nurturing and in discipline. The relationship is evident "“ and it's the same with our Heavenly Father. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit, I know that I know that He is my Abba. How do I know? I see it in the relationship, the love, the provision, the protection, the way He disciplines me and as a child this gives me security as a child.

A slave is not so fortunate. Who will be his master next? Will he have ample provision? Will he be protected, nurtured? No, no security. Let me ask, are you a slave or a son?

Fourth, our next benefit is that if we are children we are also heirs. v17 says "and if children heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ"

The word for heir is κληρονόμος klēronomos, it means a sharer, someone with an apportion, an inhereitance. Lyn and I were talking a while back about making a will just in case the Lord calls one of us home. I was thinking about my books, who should I apportion them too? The fact is any of my children can read my books while I am here, in fact I encourage it. So being my heirs has temporal benefits, but the day will come when the benefits will become a possession.

Paul writes in v23 "And not only this but we ourselves having the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" So as sons we are heirs and as heirs there are temporal benefits, but also as heirs there is so much more to come. In fact the inheritance we receive will be of eternal quality! Peter 1:3-4 says:

           aBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who baccording to His great mercy chas caused us to be born again to da living hope through the eresurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an ainheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and bwill not fade away, creserved in heaven for you,

Let us ask, are we living with Diogenes syndrome with our true wealth hidden? Are we living as slaves in fear of whatever it is that is binding us? Or can we say we are living as children of the living God?

Obligations as Children of God

However as we have seen there are not only privileges and benefits as adopted sons and heirs there are also obligations and also even a price to pay by association with our adopted family, v17 goes on to say after declaring us co-heirs with Christ "if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may be glorified with Him"

Believe it or not, some people do not like me or Moriel,  the ministry we serve with. I would think that when they hear my sons are all involved with the same ministry that what they think of me they will also think of them. To them it's sin by association. It's the same way with Jesus our Messiah, if they persecuted Him, Crucified Him, hated Him what makes you think they will love us?

I got a letter from a "˜brother" a while ago, he said in his letter that the reason a group of our missionaries including my son were hijacked was because of the "outlandish" behaviour of Jacob Prasch. Again it's a perceived sin by association "“ crazy! Unfortunately these are the things that can get you a little discouraged, not only do you have the world, the flesh and the devil to contend with but also "brothers" who hold something against people who look after orphaned children based on what they "think" they know about the ministry founder.

Its can be discouraging, it can make it difficult, you may want to give up, however consider Paul's words in v18 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time aare not worthy to be compared with the bglory that is to be revealed to us."

Let me just share and maybe I am speaking to just a few of you out there. They may cast insults upon you, treat you unjustly, put doubt on your ministry, but count it all joy, for what they will do to you, they have already done to our Lord Jesus. For what they will do to you, Christ has already been through, and for His suffering, His glory, God has placed everything under His feet, be it powers or dominions or principalities, Christ is heir, Christ is the be all and end of all "“ and YOU are a Co-heir in Christ. Now let a little piece of that truth sink into your heart and minister to you.

To Conclude

How can being an adopted child of God with full right and privileges and of course obligations be practically demonstrated in our lives?

Well first of all there is a bad way to demonstrate this. We see it in many churches "I'm a King's Kid". "Were going to take the world by force". "let's walk the land possessing and proclaiming". Why is it wrong? Because it is so un-Christ like. Jesus who is gentle, meek and mild who said His Kingdom is not of this earth did not do so or command us to act in this way.

But there is a right way of appropriating our adoption. First of all in the knowledge of the hope of the inheritance that is to come that we remember to have a pilgrim attitude. This world is not our home, we are just passing through. My children today can have books about Jesus, but when He comes to take them, as He has already done for Mouse and Simpiwe, they can enjoy Him in the person.

Secondly as children we remember God has sent us His Spirit. To comfort us and guide us into all truth, pointing us to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. We apply His teaching as sons by reading His words, being filled with His Spirit daily and talking to Abba in prayer as a true child.

Thirdly, we daily apply our inheritance, the Spirit of God is our pledge from the Father, conforming us into the image of His Son. Wayne Grudem states in his systematic Theology that "Sanctification is man co-operating with God's  Spirit" Are we co-operating with God today and applying His truths to our lives.

Finally, remember, we have not been given a spirit of slavery leading to fear, you have been given a spirit of adoption by which we cry Abba, Father, its this close and personal, what a true child calls a true dad. It's either the fear of a slave embroiled in sin or as a son, who the Spirit leads, at peace with Abba.


[1]Schaff, P. 1997. History of the Christian church. Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor, WA

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