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    October 8, 1896

    “The Slavery of Sin” The Present Truth 12, 41, pp. 641, 642.

    ATJ

    WHERE sin abounded, Romans 5:21 says that “sin hath reigned.” And to reign is “to hold and exercise sovereign power;” “to exercise commanding influence; to dominate; to exercise control over; control as by right or superior force;” “to prevail irresistibly; exist widely or to the exclusion of something else.” That is what the word of God says that sin does in men and with men as they are of themselves. And until that fact is recognised, no man can be delivered from the power of sin. The word used, and translated “reigned,” is a word that signifies and relates to governments and the reign of sovereigns. And when the Word of God thus speaks, it wants us to understand that men in sin are under the government and sovereign power of sin, just as men who are in an earthly kingdom are under the power of that government.PTUK October 8, 1896, page 641.1

    Again: the Scripture describes the condition of the sinner thus: “I am carnal, sold under sin.” In these times a man who was sold was a slave, and was in all things absolutely subject to his master. Why, then, is this statement used with reference to men under sin, unless that is the actual condition of men under sin? Yet more than this: this statement was originally written to the saints who were in Rome. The figure was taken from the Roman system of slavery. And when the brethren in Rome read it, it was the system of Roman slavery that was suggested, and that was intended to be suggested, to their minds as an illustration of the condition of the sinner under the power of sin.PTUK October 8, 1896, page 641.2

    Now the Roman government was a sheer despotism of the worst sort. The relation of the government to the citizen was such that he was but a slave. Who has not read or heard these words? “The Roman Empire filled the world, and when that empire fell into the hands of a single person, the world became a safe and dreary prison for his enemies: to resist was fatal, and it was impossible to fly.” That was the condition of a citizen under the Roman government; but the figure used in this scripture is not of Roman citizenship but of Roman slavery. And when that was the condition of the Roman citizen, what must have been the condition of the Roman slave! Roman slavery was a system of bondage imposed upon men by a government that stood toward its own citizens as this quotation describes. The slave was confined in the hands of his owner by such a government as this. The master had absolute power in all things, even to life or death, over the slave. The owner could torture his slave to death or kill him out of hand, and no one could question it; for the government, such a government, confirmed the owner in the absolute possession and control of the one whom he had bought with his money.PTUK October 8, 1896, page 641.3

    And the figure furnished by that system of government and of slavery, is adopted by the Lord in defining the relationship of the sinner to sin, and the condition of the sinner under the power of sin. And the lesson which we are taught in these words of Scripture, and which we are expected to learn from these words, is not simply the fact of sin, but the power of it. And if people would only see this more and recognise it so, there would be more salvation from sin in the world and among those who profess to be Christian, and there would therefore be much more Christianity in the church.PTUK October 8, 1896, page 642.1

    This same thought is expressed in the same way by Jesus, in the following words: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” This is the way the King James Version reads, and so on the face of the text its force is lost; for when people read it nowadays, they know that the position of a servant is such that he can leave it at any time, and cease to be a servant. Looking at it that way, they decide that they can leave the service of sin at any time, by their own power, and by their own power cease to be servants of sin.PTUK October 8, 1896, page 642.2

    But this is not what Jesus said. What He really said is this: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is a slave of sin.” The Greek word is doulos, and signifies “properly, a born bondman, or slave.” Note, it is not simply one made a slave; but one born a slave. That is what Jesus said; and that is what the Word says yet to every one that is under the power of sin. Thus in the words of Christ here, as in the other places, it is the power of sin over the sinner, rather than the fact of sin upon Him, that is taught, and that He wants men to understand. And He wants us to understand that this power is properly illustrated only in the system of Roman slavery as it was then in the world.PTUK October 8, 1896, page 642.3

    This power is shown to be such that in its reign, in its mastery over the man who knows only the birth to slavery, the natural birth, it keeps him back from doing the good that he would do, and that he loves, and causes him to do the evil that he would not do, and that he hates. For it is written: “I am carnal, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” “The good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.” “For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”PTUK October 8, 1896, page 642.4

    But why is this! Why is it that a man does the evil that he hates? Why is it that he does not the good that he would? Why is it that he cannot perform the good that he wills? Oh! “It is not more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” I would not do it; but sin that dwells in me causes me to do it. I would do good, but sin that dwells in me holds me back, and will not let me do it. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?”PTUK October 8, 1896, page 642.5

    How could the supreme, sovereign, and absolute power of sin be more plainly shown than it is in the scriptures cited in this article? And how could the complete, abject, and helpless slavery of the man who knows the natural birth be more fully depicted than in these same scriptures? O that men would believe it! O that they would recognise it, and confess it, always! Then they could be delivered. For there is deliverance. There is deliverance as complete as is the captivity. There is freedom as absolute as is the slavery. There is the reign of another power, as certainly supreme and sovereign as was ever the power of sin. But until we recognise and confess the power of sin as the word of God declares it, we cannot know the power of God declares it, we cannot know the power of God as the word of God presents it. Until we acknowledge the complete sovereignty of the power of sin, we cannot acknowledge the complete sovereignty of the power of God.PTUK October 8, 1896, page 642.6

    A. T. JONES.

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