So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The US National Debt is over $30.6 Trillion…and growing rapidly.
The average American owes over $90,000.
The average college student graduates with $27,000 in debt.
This kind of financial debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Without taking out a loan very few people would be able to buy a home. But debt can very easily become a vicious overlord, pressing us down into submission, fear and anxiety.
When the Bible talks about being a “slave” the term is “DOULOS” which means bond-servant. It most often refers to being in such overwhelming debt that you have no chance of getting out from under it. So (often out or grace and generosity) somebody will pay your debt off and, in exchange, you essentially become their full-time servant until your debt is paid off (which will likely never happen).
It is into this context that Jesus brilliantly re-defines the word DOULOS into a spiritual scenario. In a much bigger and deeper way the debt of sin is absolutely insurmountable — “The wages of sin is death” Rom 6:23 — This is our great slavery, our great doulos. We have dug a debt-pit and we keep on digging. It is the spiritual and eternal side of a shocking, humiliating and enslaving personal debt which has left us utterly bankrupt, without hope of getting above water.
Into this enslaving despair Jesus procured and proclaims the most ridiculous freedom. Get past the churchy cliche of “Jesus paid a debt he did owe” (which is utterly true) and realize the stunning truth of our debt and his gift.
Timothy Keller has explained it like this (I can’t remember where): Say you came home and your house-sitter told you that a bill came and she went ahead and paid it for you. How happy and thankful would you be? Well, it totally depends on the amount of the bill. Was it a “postage due” of 5 cents or was it your mortgage?
This is where we sit, and why it’s not “bad news” to talk about the depth of our sin-debt. The older I get the more I realize the extent of what Jesus has forgiven (once again, even the word “forgiven” is a debt-erasing term). So it’s not shamful and oppressive to consider the level of debt, but a springboard to praise, thanksgiving and responsive living. Jesus doesn’t rub it in and remind us of what he’s done. He doesn’t abusively turn to us and say “I forgave you of all that, and this is how you treat me?” Instead, he has taken our debt and fully paid it off…AND he has given us a full inheritance!
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:6-7 “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
We aren’t simply debt-free. We are wealthy with righteousness beyond belief.
So what do I do about this? How does this translate into me knowing and living free?
Jesus tells us in John 8:31 — ABIDE in TRUTH.
Abide means to personally and perpetually be saturated with the TRUTH. (As opposed to sitting under the lies of the devil (John 8:44) who tell us how horrible, un-savable and un-lovable we are).
The Truth that I owed and insurmountable debt.
The Truth that Jesus became a bond-servant (Phil 2) for us, even to the point of the cross.
The Truth that when he was raised from the debt (paying our debt) he brought the keys to Death and Hades with him so that they can no longer has mastery over us! (Rev 1)
The Truth that we have been given the Righteousness of Christ (Phil 3).
The Truth that we are sons and daughters of the King with an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1)
To find FREEDOM means to know, believe, enjoy and live out these Truths. This is done through weekly gatherings with one another; through personal relationships where we speak TRUTH into one anothers’ lives; through authentic, saturating time with the Lord in The Word and Prayer. It’s utter saturation in the Gospel because we perpetually forget and fall back into listening to the devil’s lies.
All of this good news leads into a new life of being a loving-doulos — this time to Christ who loves us and has given himself for us.
As he became a servant for us, we are now servants of Him, and of one another. Not out of threatening obligation, but out of joy and love…
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20).