We Are All Slaves…Bob Dylan Understood This

We like to think we are free people but, in truth, we are not. We are free to make our own choices, but those choices only define or determine who or what we are enslaved to. Before we go any further, let’s define slavery rather than limit ourselves to the images the word “slave” conjures up. We usually think of it being a person- and it most certainly can be that. But look at how it is also defined from Merriam Webster’s Desk Dictionary: “a person entirely under the domination of an influence or person.” This is interesting.

There’s a song that Bob Dylan wrote and recorded back in 1979 called “You Gotta Serve Somebody.” He understood this concept and was imparting wisdom he learned somewhere to others. The chorus says, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody, It may be the devil or it may the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” This is true. Of course, the Bible originated it a long time ago by telling us in Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience (to God) which leads to righteousness?”

So what the Lord is saying through the apostle Paul is what God is telling you (in this case) through Bob Dylan’s writing (God can accomplish His purposes through both saints and sinners), “But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes, You’re gonna have to serve somebody, Well it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Do you see the connection? We think we are free but we, by our choices, are ultimately led to sin and death (“It may be the devil” -or our flesh) or to life and freedom in and through Jesus Christ (“It may be the Lord”).

We are free to make our own choices, yes. But the choices we make lead to death or life. So we are not in control. We serve somebody. We either serve the devil or we serve the Lord. If you remain just as you are, you are serving the former. If you repent, confess your sins, and are baptized you will serve the latter. Which is it going to be?

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He is Full of Mercy

Let’s put this mercy in perspective so that we can fully appreciate it and respond to it. First of all, the Bible says in Proverbs 1:7 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Just the beginning. What is the opposite of wisdom? Folly or, as we would call it today, foolishness. What is a person who possesses this characteristic? Yes, a fool. So, if we are not wise, we are fools. Or, we think we are wise but if we don’t take heed to the wisdom we think we have, we are fools. So, if we don’t fear- reverently and humbly acknowledge the sovereignty of Almighty God and submit to it- we are fools.

Whether we consciously think about the Ten Commandments or not, we know they are meant to be lived by and obeyed. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t murder. Don’t take God’s name in vain. Honor your father and mother. These are just some. Have you ever stolen anything? Then you’re a thief. Have you ever lied? Then you’re a liar. So we’re guilty of at least some of these, probably more- and more often than we realize, because each time we do it we become more and more desensitized to it.

If we are to come before a judge who would base our incrimination on just one of these counts of “guilty,” we would most certainly incur some sentence or fine. But to have done many, and to have done each more than once or continually, certainly bears a lengthy sentence. But if we were to find out that the Judge not only found someone to willingly and undeservedly pay the price of our cumulative sentences for us, we would be overwhelmed with amazement and dazzled with gratitude- not only to the One who took our place but also to the One who ordered Him to do it!! This is what Almighty God has done for us through Jesus Christ, mercifully, and we don’t even think of our guilt, the looming sentence or take hold of the hand who suffered in our place. God told the Israelites through Jeremiah and He tells us today,

13 “Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree,
and that you have not obeyed my voice,
declares the Lord.
14 Return, O faithless children,
declares the Lord;
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.

15 “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

This offer doesn’t last forever. Take hold of it now. Fear God. Walk away from your sins. Tremble and fear before the Creator of Heaven and earth, our Judge. Accept the mercy. Give thanks!