The other day I was listening to the radio and a song called “No Longer Slaves” came on. As I listened to the lyrics, “I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God,” I started to think about what that really means, or what it should mean, for me as a Christian.
As I’ve mentioned before, I struggle with anxiety. I’m often unexpectedly captured by fear and worry. It can come on at any moment, without any warning, and it grips me completely. It’s irrational, it’s uncontrollable, and most of the time all I can do is pray.
I fear things I can’t control, things I can’t understand. I fear sudden loss or death of loved ones, I fear for the safety of my family, I fear unexpected catastrophes. I can go days, weeks even, without feeling these things, but when they come they are as strong and real as ever.
But this song got me thinking about the reality of what it means to believe in Christ, to be saved through His sacrifice, to be brought into His kingdom and made a child of God. What does our faith and our salvation mean to us right now, and how should it affect our daily lives? It’s important that we have been saved from death and given eternal life. It is of the utmost importance. But there is also a very real benefit we receive the moment we believe in Him, and every day on this earth until we meet Him face to face, and we would be remiss not to dwell on it.
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:12-17)
By believing in Christ and committing our lives to Him, we are freed from the things of the flesh that once held us captive: fear, sin, death. In place of these things, we are given adoption as sons, and are therefore heirs to everything Christ has been given. We are freed to live for God, not for anything of this world.
But we must lay hold of these benefits and be intentional about seeking them, or we will inevitably fall back to fleshly desires, struggles and fears. We are freely given the Holy Spirit, yes, but as these verses remind us, we must then live by that Spirit and put to death the deeds of the body in order to truly live as heirs of the kingdom. I have to be intentional about not letting myself fall back into fear, and instead calling out to God and laying claim to my adoption into His kingdom.
Does this mean that nothing bad will happen to me if I believe in Jesus and follow Him? No. In fact, the end of this passage says that we are heirs in Christ if we suffer with Him, in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
What it does mean, however, is that there is nothing we as Christians need to utterly and completely fear, because in the end we have the hope of heaven and the promise of eternal life. No matter what happens to me in this life, no matter how much I suffer, I have life in Christ, and that’s all that matters.
I don’t think this is an easy thing for us as Christians to do on a daily basis. It’s certainly hard for me. It’s hard to keep my eyes on things above when so much is happening here on earth to keep me distracted. It’s hard not to worry about the safety and health of my loved ones, and I don’t think I’ll ever be completely free from that worry. But as a Christian, I have something that others don’t have: I have the comfort of God’s love and His promises to be with me through it all, and to one day free me from it all and usher me into His kingdom.
Even as I write this, it’s hard to make sense of it. Hopefully some of what I’ve said has made sense to you, and hopefully it resonates with you. If it doesn’t, please ask me to explain further, tell me what’s confusing. I guess what I want you to know, and what I want to remind myself, is that as children of God, we are really and truly no longer slaves to fear. Even when fear creeps up on us, we have Him to cry out to, “Abba, Father,” and He is there to comfort us. We live in a type of freedom that no one else has, and it should make us feel lighter, give us a deep and impenetrable joy that carries us through all of life’s circumstances. He will never let us go.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phillipians 4:6-9)