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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 70 - 1 Corinthians 7:23 - True Service and True Freedom Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


There is a liberty which no human bondage can affect or curtail,—"If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed"; and there is a bondage which no high sounding words about liberty can break or loosen,—"They promise them liberty, while they themselves are the servants of corruption." Where the truth reigns in the soul there is liberty; where error prevails there is bondage; for truth liberates, error enslaves. The great words of our day, "liberty," "liberal," and "liberalism," may come from hearts in bondage to sin, and may be perhaps the worst indications of that deep hatred of God, which cannot tolerate any holy restraints either upon their opinions or their lives. Liberalism is often the worst form of intolerance.

But let us look at the Apostle's line of argument with these Corinthian saints. "Were you called to Christ when a slave?" he asks. "Don't concern yourself about that," he answers; only if you may be free, avail yourself of the opportunity. He who is called while a slave, is not the less Christ's freeman; and he that is called while free, is not the less Christ's servant. In whatever state you are, bond or free, remember to abide with God; His fellowship sanctifies and sweetens every condition of human life. Mark the fullness of His statement:

(1.) Ye are bought. The price has been paid down. Previous ownership is dissolved.

(2.) Ye are bought with a price. That means with a good large sum; not for a trifle.

(3.) Ye are bought by Christ. Jesus is the purchaser. He wanted you for His property, and so he paid the full and heavy price.

(4.) Ye are bought for Christ. Not for another. Not to be sold again. His forever.

(5.) Ye are bought for a kingdom. Not to be servants, but kings. Heirs of God.

If these things are so, how incongruous, how degrading, to be the servants of men! This exhortation is very needful; for Christians are too prone to forget their true liberty and dignity; nay, to sell these,—to despise their birthright for some earthly consideration, some poor mess of pottage.

Be not the servants of men! Ye who are Christ's blood-bought freemen,—do not stoop to such bondage and degradation. Be not the servants of

(1.) Custom. Earth's customs and manners too often come between us and our birthright. Be on your guard.

(2.) Pleasure. Slaves of pleasure,—of lust, of vanity, of gaiety, of folly,—how inconsistent with Christ's freemen!

(3.) Business. Yes, even of lawful business, men are often slaves. Shall Christ's freemen be so?

(4.) Opinion. We fall into what is called public opinion, and shrink from independent thought and action.

(5.) Routine. "The course of this world" is often our only reason for a certain line of action. We do as others do; we allow our time to be broken up by worldly calls, parties, dinners, meetings, when as Christ's servants we ought to be doing His work. The routine of the world is carried into the church; and the routine of the "religious world" is weariness and slavery.

Do not be hangers on of the great, or rich, or influential, either in church or state. Do not be subservient to the leaders of party, or the representatives of public opinion, or the politicians of the day. Quit you like men. Be independent. Act on your own judgment, and follow out your own honest conclusions. Be not carried away with the excitement of controversy, or the enthusiasm of partisanship. Do not be obsequious, trimming, or facing both ways. Be upright before God and man. One is your Master, even Christ; follow Him. To follow others is to bring ourselves into bondage; to make ourselves servants of men. Be calm, be steadfast and unmovable, with your eye upon the great day of sifting, when the Judge shall reckon with you as to your fidelity to Himself Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ bath made us free. Be not carried away either with the fear of the many. Be not overawed by the fear of man, which bringeth a snare, or influenced by the love of his approbation, which is no less ensnaring. To your own Master you stand or fall.