Slavery: Redemption Groups Immersion part 4

[A note of introduction:  I am indebted to Pastor James Noriega of Mars Hill Church for quite a bit of the material in this post. It is a distillation of the notes that I took during his session at the Redemption Groups Immersion I attended in Seattle a couple of months ago.]

This past weekend I had the opportunity to teach our Redemption Groups session on the Golden Calf – Volunteering for Slavery.  Now, most people in the United States don’t bow down to crafted pieces of metal or wood and burn offerings on an alter to them on any kind of regular basis.  But idolatry is very much alive and well in our culture – much more so than we would like to admit.  And here I would also like to distinguish the kind of idolatry I’ll be addressing from ‘crackberry’ addictions and being a slave to your email inbox.  I’d like to go deeper and cut more to the heart of the issue of idolatry rather than saying that certain behaviors or creations are bad.

So, for the purposes of this post, I’ll consider an idol to be:

  • Anything that is more important to you than God.
    • – What do you do to the exclusion of loving and following Christ?
    • – What comes between you and developing your relationship with God?
  • Anything that absorbs your heart and mind more than God.
    • – What do you think about or have a love for more than Jesus?
  • Anything that you look to provide only what God can give.
    • – Where/what/who do you seek approval, affection, love, atonement, satisfaction, peace, security from?
  • Anything that gives you meaning and significance other than God.
    • – How do you introduce or describe yourself?
    • – What do you base your identity in?
  • Anything that gives you happiness other than God.
    • – Where are you most happy?
    • – What defines what happiness and joy are in your life?

And we sign ourselves up for voluntary slavery to these idols by:

  • Trading the Truth for a lie (Romans 1:25)
    • – Knowing what Truth (theologically and biblically correct worldview) is and still choosing something that is contrary to it.
  • Being seduced by a lie
    • – Knowing Truth but listening to and being wooed by something else.
  • Choosing to be a victim by your slavery
    • – Explaining away or justifying a victim mentality (“I’m so abused and hurt that I don’t think I’ll ever get out of this sin”)
    • – Being victimized, though it is horrid and awful, is no excuse to continue making the situation worse.
  • Allowing something else to give you identity
    • – Your sin does not determine who you are (divorcee, rapist, addict, pornographer, rape victim, etc.)
    • – God determines who you are, not someone who has either sinned against you or who has endured your sin against them.

Is your sin defining you?
Are you allowing sin to happen in your life?
Are you in voluntary slavery?

A story about Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War holds that he bought a slave woman at an auction and then immediately set her free.  She asked if she was free to go wherever she wanted and do whatever she pleased, and he said that she indeed was.  She then said that she would follow him wherever he went, because she wanted to be with the person who set her free rather than anyone else. (1)

This illustrates the principle that we find in Romans 6:17-18:
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (emphasis added)

So for our situations – no matter what they are – where else would we rather be than with the one who has freed us from our slavery to sin?  What more desirable set of circumstances could we find ourselves in than to be with the one who exercised his authority and power to release us from our pitiable situation?

Repent, be reconciled to God because his grace is immense, his love is pure, and his desire is for us to live in joy-filled freedom.

This repentance process should look something like this:
–    turn your heart away from your sin and toward God
–    understand the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the weight of your sin against an almighty and holy God
–    confess your sin to God, your community of believers, and anyone affected by it
–    restore any damages or losses that have been incurred because of your sin (this is NOT atonement, but rather only repairing what you’ve damaged)
–    rejoice in your forgiveness and freedom, and praise God for giving you the gift of repentance

1 – This story occurs in many places, but I found a pretty good rendition of it here:

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