America, Slavery, and the Bible
1. Slavery has long been a part of world history.
a. Aristotle taught that it was in the natural order of things that some men should “own” others so that the “higher classes” could flourish.
b. In New Testament times, as much as two thirds of the Roman Empire were slaves (before the 1st century it was as high as 90%).
2. This is an especially touchy subject here in America.
a. We have a wonderful heritage as a nation… one we can admire.
b. But our heritage is severely flawed because of slavery… which (to our shame) was tolerated in this land for almost 250 years.
c. We are still dealing with the scars and wounds leftover from slavery.
d. This weekend is Martin Luther King Jr. Day – a time to acknowledge and appreciate the great work he did for our country to help heal the wounds left from centuries of slavery… in promoting civil rights for all…
3. The form of slavery in America was especially cruel.
a. While we would all agree that any form of slavery is bad, some forms were much worse than others.
b. Some slaves (like Joseph) had a very high position and lived better than most people.
c. But later, the slavery of the Jews in Egypt was severe and harsh.
d. There was a wide range of practices: from domestic servants, to indentured servants, to cruel and oppressive treatment as in Egypt.
e. Slavery in America was similar to the cruel form of slavery in Egypt… where the evil taskmasters made them serve with rigor, and often whipped the slaves to get more work out of them.
4. Slavery in America had another unusual element to it.
a. In Bible times, slaves were most often made by one nation conquering another… and they were usually of the same race.
b. The slavery in America had another ugly blot: racism.
• Slavery in America was more than social and economic oppression.
• It included racial bigotry. (skin color)
• This makes it somewhat different than the issue of slavery in the Bible… an additional layer of evil.
c. At any angle you looked at slavery in America, it wreaked of cruelty and injustice.
5. We fought a bloody civil war over the issue. We lost more American lives in that war than in any other we have fought since! (600,000)
a. And remarkably, BOTH SIDES used the Bible to support their arguments.
b. Slaves and abolitionists interpreted the Exodus story about the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery as a picture of what God thought of slavery.
c. The confederates gravitated towards the writings of Paul—such as our verse this morning. Slaves obey!
d. Both sides accurately quoted out Bible verses to support their views. Both sides felt justified… that God was on their side.
The Bible Used to Promote Slavery
1. Slavery was tolerated in America from our earliest days.
a. George Washington, the father of our country, owned slaves.
b. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence owned slaves.
c. Jefferson, knowing that he himself owned slaves, must have had a twinge or two of conscience when he wrote the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
d. Patrick Henry, the great orator who coined the famous slogan, “Give me liberty or give me death,” was a slave owner.
e. Slavery was legal in this country for almost 250 years.
f. The confederates down in Dixie had a lot of history to lean on in making their case.
2. “[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.” Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.
3. He (and other confederates) stated that slavery was sanctioned in the Bible for the following reasons:
a. In their minds, the New Testament apostles seemed to condone slavery:
• Col. 3:22 – servants were told to obey their masters.
• Eph. 6:5 – servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling.
• I Pet. 2:18 – Servants be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle but also to the forward.
• Clearly the New Testament teaches that slaves were to obey their masters in EVERYTHING… even if their masters were evil!
• There is no emancipation proclamation in the Bible.
• The Bible never told the slaves to sign petitions to end the oppression and abuse… and fight it at city hall.
• The Bible writers did NOT urge the slaves to unite and fight against this awful injustice.
• The Bible did not encourage them to rebel… like Spartacus and overthrow their masters.
• The Bible says just the opposite! Obey and submit.
• The confederates used that as ammunition from the Bible to support their views.
b. Some have suggested that Jesus condoned the beating of slaves in Luke 12:47-48. Of course, that was not the case.
c. The Old Testament seemed to condone slavery too.
• Ex. 21:12 – death penalty for a murderer; vs. 20-21 but no death penalty for killing a slave.
• Ex. 20:17 – “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors… manservant nor his maidservant, not his ox…” Even the moral law of God recognized slavery.
• Abraham was called a “friend of God” and Abraham had slaves.
4. In one sense, there was an element of truth in what they claimed.
a. The Bible does NOT forbid slavery. It does not denounce it.
b. The Bible permitted Christians to own slaves.
c. I Cor. 7:21 – the Bible told slaves to be content in their present condition. If they could be freed, then use it. Otherwise, be content.
5. Slaveholders in the South clung to verses like “Slaves, be obedient to masters” to justify the practice of slavery.
a. For folks who grew up in a culture that was steeped in slavery for a couple of centuries… an economy that revolved around slavery… living on plantations that couldn’t exist without slavery… it was easy to “convince” such folks that all was OK.
b. And if you could throw in a couple of verses from the Bible, then they felt doubly justified.
c. Hundreds of thousands of such men fought and died in the civil war in order to keep their system intact.
d. Many of them were Bible believing, born again Christians, who had convinced themselves that they were fighting to preserve their God-given right to own slaves.
e. The Southerners quoted the Bible to support their views.
The Bible Used to Abolish Slavery
1. In the North, (for the most part) folks took the opposite view.
2. The abolitionists quoted from the same Bible to support the opposite conclusion!
a. They read from the book of Exodus how God sent Moses with a message to the Pharaoh (representing Satan and Egypt representing the evil world system!). Nine times this message appears in Exodus: “Let my people go!”
b. Ex. 7:16-18 – If they would NOT free the people from slavery, God would send plagues upon Egypt and destroy that nation!
• This was designed to let them know that Jehovah was the LORD of all the earth!
• It was designed to let them know what He thought of corrupt religion and corrupt practices—namely, mistreating His people through slavery!
• When the plagues descended upon the nation, it was evident whose side God was on!
c. Gal. 3:28 – The abolitionist noted that in Christ there is neither “Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” They claimed that God made no such distinctions and neither should we.
3. During the civil war period, both sides, the Union in the North and the Confederates in the South were both quoting the Bible, and both believed they were fighting for God!
a. On Sunday, they both went to church and worshipped God.
b. They all read out of the same Bible.
c. They both prayed to the same God for victory.
d. They both believed they were fighting for the truth and that God was on their side.
What the Bible IS
1. I’m sure we’ve all wondered WHY the Bible doesn’t denounce slavery.
a. Why did Paul tell slaves to obey their masters?
b. Why didn’t he write that say slavery is sin and make prohibitions against it?
c. The Bible denounces lots of other things. Why not slavery?
d. Those are legitimate questions to raise…
e. But WHY did God permit it rather than denounce it?
f. The answer is a bit complicated. You have to think. But if you are willing to think this one through, it is EXTREMELY encouraging to see how God works in time… and how righteousness and justice always win the battle!
g. God’s ways are not our ways. His way is perfect.
• We would be inclined to tell God to just give us a law! Outlaw it!
• But you can’t legislate righteousness. The Old Testament taught us that.
• The law was powerless to change the heart!
• Slavery is not mainly a legal or a political problem. It is primarily a heart problem…
• God chose to deal with this BLIGHT on society… NOT by dealing with the symptoms (slavery) but by dealing with the ROOT of the problem.
• The root of the problem is the sinful heart of man: greed, unrighteousness, bigotry, pride, selfishness. This is God’s way of dealing with slavery.
• God’s way takes longer, but it is better. God is changing hearts, one by one.
• The way to deal with slavery is to crucify pride and greed and fill the heart with the love of God.
2. WHY didn’t the Bible writers simply FORBID Christians from practicing slavery? The answer in part is found in appreciating what the Bible IS and what it is NOT.
a. In the days when Paul wrote Colossians, the Roman Empire had about 60 million slaves!
• These slaves for the most part were of the same skin color as their masters, having been conquered in battles.
• By some estimates, it was about 2/3 of the entire population.
• That means that the entire economy of the Roman Empire was built around slavery. To end slavery would cause the economy to collapse.
• The whole social stratum of the empire was built around slavery. To end slavery would bring social upheaval.
• Slavery was woven into the fabric of politics in the Roman Empire.
• Anyone suggesting the abolition of slavery would have been considered a seditionist… a rebel against authority… a political insurgent… and might throw the entire Roman Empire into political and social chaos.
• That is not the purpose of the Bible.
b. The Bible was not written to change society.
• There was much economic injustice in Rome, (and in America) but the Bible is not a book on economics.
• There was much social and political injustice in Rome, (and in America) but the Bible is not a book on political science or sociology.
• The Bible was not addressed to society, but to the HEART of a sinner… so that the individual might come to know God in a personal way and have a right relationship to Him.
• The Bible is a spiritual book – designed to teach us how to know God, live for God on a cursed and corrupt earth.
• Dan. 2:44 – God is not going to fix or improve the kingdoms of this world. He is going to establish His OWN Kingdom… and grind the earthly kingdoms (world system) to dust!
• Vs. 34-35 – the kingdoms are crushed and no place was found for them.
• Christians have been called OUT OF the world. Our job is not to clean up the world, but to fish men out of it.
• The Bible completely bypasses this world system and addresses the hearts of individual men.
• The Bible was not written to tell us how to FIX the world, but how to live in it and remained unspotted by it!
• Nothing in the world system is of the Father. (I Jn. 2:16-17)
c. Col. 3:1-3 – Don’t forget the HEADING to this whole section: Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth, for ye are DEAD and your life is hid with Christ in God.
• This world system is not our home. It is an enemy of the believer. It is antichrist and antichristian. A friend of the world is the enemy of God.
• Jesus said to Pilate: My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
• When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter had an earthly view, and took out a sword to fight. He cut off one of the soldier’s ears, and Jesus rebuked him.
• Eph. 6:12 – Our battle is not political, social, or economic. It is a SPIRITUAL battle.
• Our foes are not fighting a war on poverty; or against social injustice, or economic equality.
• Those are all earthly endeavors. (If the Lord leads an individual Christian into politics to fight for those things—great!
• But (Jerry Falwell notwithstanding) that is not the mission of the church!)
• We fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers; spiritual wickedness in high places!
d. What would the world have thought of Christianity and the New Testament if the apostles took up swords FOUGHT against the Roman military oppressors? What would the world have thought if the apostles had formed marches and began signing petitions to have the emperor removed from office and they began fighting against the injustices of the earthly Rome Empire… including slavery?
• Christianity would have been reduced to nothing more than just another political uprising… seeking to overthrow the existing order.
• Jesus would have been seen as a revolutionary seeking political power!
• If the apostles began by seeking to overthrow the political, social, and economic fabric of the empire, Christianity would have been nothing more than some new social agenda.
3. Christianity is none of those. It is LIFE… abundant life in Christ!
a. The apostles NEVER fought a political or social battle.
b. They never marched on Rome. They signed petitions. They never demonstrated against the corrupt Roman emperor.
c. When the Lord sent His disciples into the world, He did not say, “Go ye therefore into all the world and clean up that mess! Improve society! Bring about social and political reform! Fight against corruption, injustice, and oppression!”
d. He said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel!”
e. Why didn’t the apostles denounce slavery and make prohibitions against it? Because that is not the PURPOSE of the Bible. That is not the mission of the church. That’s not why we are here.
What the Bible SAYS
1. Consider the awful injustices of persecution!
a. The emperor Nero was burning Christians at the stake! Human torches for his lavish parties.
b. While those awful acts of injustice against Christians were occurring, Peter sat down to write a message to the Christian soldiers. (I Pet. 2:13-17)
c. He did NOT write: take up your arms! Let’s march on city hall! Let’s demonstrate against the government. He did not write, “Down with the emperor!”
d. Instead, he wrote: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man… Honor the king!”
e. Peter was painfully aware of the injustice in the land, and God was certainly aware of the persecution, but God’s ways are not man’s ways.
f. God had a different METHOD of dealing with injustice at any level.
2. God gave similar instructions concerning the issue of slavery.
a. Just as Christians were being abused and suffering injustice at the hands of evil men, so too were thousands of Christian slaves.
b. And while many unsaved slave masters were cruelly abusing their slaves, while many of these Christian slaves were suffering awful injustice at the hands of evil men… Peter sat down to write.
c. I Pet. 2:18 – Peter did not tell the slaves to unite and overthrow the corrupt evil masters.
• He did not encourage an uprising like Spartacus.
• Instead he wrote: slaves, be subject to your masters… and not only the good ones, but also the evil ones!
d. Paul also wrote the same thing in Colossians 3:21. Paul did not write an emancipation declaration. He too told the slaves to obey.
e. God had a different method of dealing with the injustice of slavery.
3. God’s message to Christian slaves: “If you find yourself as a slave, be the BEST slave you can be!”
a. Col. 3:22 – he tells them to obey and not just when the master is looking. (That’s what unsaved slaves would do).
b. Vs. 23 – do your chores heartily… not grudgingly and with murmuring. That’s what an unsaved slave would do. You be different!
c. Shine in the midst of darkness and injustice!
d. Gen. 39:1-6 – this is just what Joseph did. He found himself (because of the cruelty of his brothers) as a slave… and he chose to be the very best slave he could be. He found grace and favor with his master and was elevated!
e. Gen. 41:38 – it was noted that the Spirit of God was with Joseph.
f. Col. 1:27 – Paul told the Christian slaves that Christ lives in them! They should be different from the other slaves!
g. The other slaves had no hope. The Christian slave has a hope of GLORY!
h. Col. 3:1-4 – the Christian slave’s real life was not down here on earth suffering abuse.
• His real life was hidden away from his unsaved master.
• His master had no idea of what made him different. His real life was hidden away in heaven!
• He was truly a FREE man in mind, heart, and conscience… the truth set him free.
• His condition was unlike that of his master who probably lived with a lot of guilt and shame… because of his greed and cruelty. His master was the real slave… enslaved by his sin, greed, and selfishness.
• The Christian was not to obsess over the injustice on earth. Injustice will be here till the Lord comes!
• He was to rejoice in his glorious position, in Christ, in heaven!
• That was his real life… and in Christ there is neither bond nor free!
• A Christian slave in the first century with the right spirit and attitude would be a MARVELOUS witness for the Lord Jesus Christ.
• That would open MANY DOORS to preach the gospel… No doubt others would ask him a reason of the hope that lies in him!
4. This was God’s purpose for the believer on earth.
a. This is Christianity! We live in a cursed earth, but our minds and affections are on things above!
b. That motivates us to endure suffering, abuse, persecution, and injustice in a corrupt world…
c. It enables us to REJOICE in spite of it all… knowing that we have a hope of glory that others do not have!
d. This principle translates into all kinds of other injustices in the world too!
e. A Christian living in an oppressive Communist country is to be the best Christian he can be!
• In spite of abuse, persecution, and injustice, he is there to SHINE for Christ!
• Christians are suffering abuse and injustice in Communist China and elsewhere in the world today.
• His God given purpose is not to overthrow the government but to be a witness for Christ.
f. A Christian living in a repressive tribal oligarchy in some third world country may experience injustice. God’s command to him is the same: SHINE for Christ in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.
g. A Christian living in the lower stratum of the caste system in India… is not to try to overthrow that political, socio-economic system either.
• He is to be a testimony for the Lord…
• He is to learn to be content in whatsoever state he finds himself… and not to murmur and groan like others.
• He is there to manifest the indwelling Christ to the lost all around him.
h. And even in our beloved country, there are STILL many injustices!
• It is hardly honest to say that a little black boy born in the projects in Roxbury has the same privileges and opportunities as the son of one of the Bostonian Brahman on Beacon Hill!
• Let’s be honest. While I believe our country is the fairest system on earth… it is STILL part of the world system and it is corrupt. There IS much injustice in America.
• Thank God for Abraham Lincoln and the emancipation Proclamation!
• Thank God for Martin Luther King, Jr. for the work he did on civil rights.
• But that notwithstanding, there remain many more hurdles in this country for blacks to jump over than whites.
• The rich have more power and more access to government than the poor.
• Christians today find themselves living in the midst of injustice… even in America!
• It was God Himself who established human government.
• Back in Gen. 9, God gave this responsibility to Noah and to mankind to follow Noah.
• Human governments, as imperfect, unfair, and unjust as they are, are still God’s methods of maintaining a certain degree of righteousness, law and order on earth.
• Rom. 13:1-2 – powers that BE are ordained of God.
• As Christians we are to submit to those authorities and the system of government established.
• We are not to undermine the government.
• Phil. 2:14-17 – Rather, we are to live a godly life and shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.
j. There is NO governmental system on earth that is free from corruption and injustice… because all governments are made up of human beings… sinners by nature!
k. Whether it is the former system of apartheid in South Africa, caste system in India, persecution in Communist China, oppression in a Muslim country, or the vicious cycle of ghetto life in America… injustice is seen everywhere!
l. Regardless of which system of injustice the world has devised… the believer is to be heavenly minded and be content in whatever state he finds himself.
m. The Bible writers had nothing to do with the INVENTION of these human systems, all of which were filled with injustices of every stripe.
• The Bible simply accepts slavery and other forms of social injustice as a reality and thus tells the believer how to live a godly life in WHATEVER system he finds himself in.
• Of course it’s not fair! God never said the world system was fair. It is our foe as a Christian.
• But we have been sent INTO that world to manifest the indwelling life of Christ to men and women everywhere.
• And God gives the grace and strength needed to live the Christian life with poise and dignity, regardless of the abuse and injustice leveled against us.
• Christianity was never designed to change the world, or the corrupt systems of the world. The world is God’s enemy and He is not going to fix it. He is going to CRUSH it…
• Christianity was designed to change ME… and you… and the way we face the world… and the way we live our lives in the world… the way we deal with tribulations in the world… including injustice and abuse.
• Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
5. In Christ, the believer is truly FREE… in spite of the most abusive and oppressive earthly condition he may be experiencing.
a. I Cor. 7:22-23 – free in Christ.
b. The truth shall set you free…
c. Col. 3:22 – earthly masters may be masters according to the flesh (masters of your body), but never of your mind, heart, conscience, and soul! Ye belong to Christ and are free in Him!
d. This kind of freedom can be experienced by EVERY believer… regardless of which system of corruption and injustice he may be living under.
IF YOU ARE NOT BORN AGAIN… Then you are a slave to sin… and Christ died to set you free!
How God Dealt With the Issue of Slavery
In the Bible
Does the Bible Justify Slavery?
1. In the conflict in our country in the mid 1800’, the South felt that it did.
a. “[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…” Jefferson Davis
b. They USED the Bible to support their practice of slavery… and they were dead WRONG in doing so.
c. They abused and twisted Scripture to make it appear so.
2. The argument is made that since the Bible contains an elaborate system of slavery, God ESTABLISHED the practice of slavery.
a. The Bible contains all the “how to’s” of slavery!
b. There are scores of passages that deal with the subject.
c. Some see in the sheer volume of these passages a justification for the practice… at least a tacit approval of it.
d. And for folks who were living well off the practice, they were happy to see a superficial justification for slavery, and were content to look no further. (Don’t confuse me with the facts!)
3. It is clear that the Bible contain so much information about slavery. But the issue to consider is: WHY?
a. This was the issue the Southerners were unwilling to discuss.
b. There is a good reason WHY there is so much about slavery in the Bible. Because in the days the Bible was written slavery EXISTED!
c. It was a common practice by virtually every powerful nation.
d. As much as two thirds of the Roman Empire were slaves (before the first century it was as high as 90%).
e. One Roman General brought back 50,000 conquered soldiers and sold them on the slave-block in Rome.
f. Many poor people SOLD themselves into slavery to pay off their debt.
g. Slavery was the invention of cruel, proud, greedy, selfish, malicious, evil MEN!
h. But since it already EXISTED and was so common, God chose to REGULATE it… to hinder and mitigate the suffering involved in this evil system. THAT”S why there is so much in the Bible about slavery!
i. The regulations on slavery should NEVER be considered an approval of the practice…
j. God didn’t INVENT divorce either. Neither did God invent polygamy… but we find them both mentioned in the Bible.
• But it existed and was common, so God REGULATED it… to prevent even more abuse and cruelty.
• Matt. 19:7-8 – And WHY did God permit divorce? Why did He regulate divorce?
» “Because of the hardness of your hearts!”
» But from the beginning it was not so!
» It wasn’t God’s original plan.
» It came about because of the sinfulness of the human heart.
» Ecc. 7:29 – Solomon lamented: God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
» But from the beginning it was not so!
• Why did God have to regulate slavery? For the very same reason!
• Slavery came into existence because fallen men are evil, greedy, selfish sinners who created a corrupt system which includes slavery that oppresses the poor.
• Because of the hardness of the human heart, God sought to REGULATE that corrupt system.
• The regulations should never be misconstrued as His approval on the system. Just the opposite!
d. God didn’t INVENT slavery. Sinful men invented it.
• If men had followed God’s laws, slavery NEVER would have been created!
• Ex. 21:16 – anyone who stole or sold a man was to be put to death. That’s God’s attitude towards slavery! It’s pretty clear too!
• But evil men did NOT follow God’s law and DID establish slavery.
• And slavery became firmly entrenched in societies all over the globe.
• Thus, when the Bible writers sat down to write, God moved them to regulate the awful abuses and injustices of slavery.
Consider what the Bible actually SAYS about slavery.
1. Slavery existed in all kinds of cruel forms in the world.
a. Aristotle referred to a slave as a “living tool.”
b. They were considered property to be used and disposed of like the rest of one’s property.
c. One philosopher wrote that “old slaves were to be used and then thrown into a dump.”
d. In the world, evil masters could virtually do as they pleased with their slaves…
2. The Law of Moses protected slaves from being abused by their masters:
» The slave was required to rest on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10)
» Killing a slave was punishable by death (Ex 21:20)
» Permanently injured slaves had to be set free (Ex 21:26-27)
» The slave was required and to participate in religious observances (Exodus 12:44).
» Slaves who ran away from oppressive masters were effectively freed (Dt 23:15-16) The Bible prohibited extradition of slaves and granted them asylum.
» Every fiftieth year (the year of jubilee), all Hebrew slaves were to be freed, even those owned by foreigners (Lev 25:10) God protected poor families from being trapped in this system forever!
» The law made it clear that foreigners were not inferiors who could be mistreated (Ex 23:9) – for YOU were strangers in Egypt!; instead they were to be loved just as fellow Israelites were (Lev 19:33-34).
3. Jewish slaves: When one Hebrew owned another Hebrew as a slave, the law commanded lenient treatment:
» Slaves were to be treated as hired workers, not slaves (Lev 25:39-43)
» All slaves were to be freed after six years (Ex 21:2, Dt 15:12)
» Freed slaves were to be liberally supplied with grain, wine and livestock (Dt 15:12-15)
» These regulations and protections for slaves set Israel apart from all other nations, where abuse of slaves was rampant.
3. Consider how God goes right OVER THE HEADS of the slave masters.
a. Vs. 22 – the servants were to obey, but they were not to fear their earthly master. They were to fear God… their heavenly master!
b. Vs. 23 – they were to serve heartily… but they were NOT serving their earthly master, but the LORD! They were NOT servants of men! And that earthly condition of slavery is where the Sovereign God allowed them to be… and serve HIM.
c. Vs. 24 – they were going to be rewarded “of the Lord”! Their earthly rewards were quite meager, but their heavenly rewards would be spectacular!
4. Vs.25 – And by the way, that master will be judged for whatever evil injustice he has imposed! God is no respecter of persons.
a. God is not impressed with the cruelty of slave masters. But He is impressed with obedience and suffering for righteousness sake!
b. Paul gives us a glimpse of heaven’s perspective of the evil of slavery that existed in Bible times.
c. It enables the slave to endure suffering & injustice with dignity.
d. Slavery is outlawed in our land (thank God!) but we still have many other injustices to deal with in a cursed earth filled with 6 billion sinners.
e. Perhaps you have been called to endure suffering for R sake… called to endure injustice…
f. Earth’s perspective will give us one view of the situation… and can make us bitter and angry.
g. Heaven’s and eternity’s perspective will give us any view entirely… it will transform us… it enables us to endure with longsuffering and joyfulness!
h. God uses suffering, affliction, injustice, and persecution to train us… and to prepare us to stand before the Bema.
i. A heavenly mindset FREES the Christian slave from the drudgery of slavery to an evil master on earth… and enables them to see themselves as serving Christ… who is seated at the right hand of God…
j. And Christ who is seated at the right hand of divine power is not helpless to do anything about this injustice… but rather reigning… ruling… in Divine power and majesty… observing… taking notes… and ready to strengthen… and awaiting the time to reward faithful service… & judge all evil.
k. That godly Christian slave of the first century who served an evil master could do so with dignity… with a sense of living ABOVE his circumstances… because he realized he was raised up into heavenly places in Christ… and because he has a heavenly mindset… awaiting the Bema where all the crooked things shall be made straight!
Christianity Uses a Different Method to Conquer Injustice
1. Regenerated, transformed hearts! (I Pet.1:22-23)
a. The love of God!
» Instead of saying, “Down with slavery!” God chose to say, “Walk in love.” (Eph. 5:1-2)
» Rom. 12:9 – ?Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”
» John 15:12 – ?This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
» Matt. 22:39 – “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
» I John 5:1 – a lack of love for one’s brother is an expression of a lack of love for God!
» Gal. 5:13-14 – “?For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.? 14 ?For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
» Matt. 7:12 – “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
» Any one of these verses would suffice to bring an end to slavery…
b. A sense of brotherhood!
a. If slavery was SIN, God would have condemned it outright, but He didn’t. It wasn’t sinful to own a slave or to be a slave.
• In fact, Paul met a runaway slave named Onesimus and led that slave to saving faith in Christ.
• Then Paul sent the slave back to his master—who was a Christian! Philemon!
• Philemon 1:1, Paul calls the Christian slave owner his “dearly beloved and fellowlaborer” in the Lord.
• Philemon 5 – Paul thanked God for him and told him that he had heard of his good testimony – of his love and faith which he had for the Lord AND for all the saints… many of whom were slaves.
• Paul did not condemn Philemon for owning slaves. He praised him for his faith and love.
• But when Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, he wrote, “Thou shouldest receive him forever, not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved!”
• Onesimus was WITH Paul and was sent to deliver the book of Colossians.
• Ultimately, the sense of Christian brotherhood, if understood properly, should have wiped out the concept of slavery among Christians.