“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14–15, KJV 1900)
Throughout history, slavery has been practiced. Sometimes slavery was a voluntary act such as employment might be today. Some today might say their boss is a slave driver. Yet, they do not have to work for him. They can always look for another job. Often, they do not leave because they want the higher paying job and are willing to put up with the job stress.
Yet, there has also been involuntary servitude, such as people who were captured in war and forced to serve others. In other cases, they were bought and sold like pieces of machinery to serve their owners in doing manual tasks. This type of slavery that turned human beings into exchange commodities is a blight on humanity and is an unfortunate part of our country’s history.
There were ways to free slaves. One was by purchase and release. A slave could be bought from the owner and then released by the purchaser. A slave could also be released by conquest where a conqueror would defeat the slave owner and then free the slave. Such was the case in Nazi Germany in WWII when the allies captured a concentration camp and freed the captive Jews.
In a similar way, the author of Hebrews speaks of Jesus as our deliverer. Here he indicates that one of the reasons for the incarnation of Jesus was to free those in slavery to the devil. Jesus, by being fully God and fully man did something for us who were in slavery that we could never do for ourselves. By voluntarily going to the cross and shedding His blood He set us free. First, by His shed blood He redeemed us. He paid the price to set us free from slavery. Moreover, as the author here relates, Jesus defeated the devil, the one who had bound us as slaves, thus setting us free. He is our deliverer.
So, we have to ask ourselves, “How do free people live and are we living that way?” Think about those who had lived in slavery for years. When freed, they immediately breathe the air of freedom and experience great joy. However, often fears can return and overtake them. One of these fears is that somehow, they may go back into bondage. Another fear is that they do not know how to live as free people. They do not know what to do or what the future really holds for them. All they know initially is what it was like to be a slave.
There are three things they need to learn and all these things are discovered as they read and study God’s word. First, they are completely secure in their salvation. He who set them free will keep them free (Phil 1:6). Second, though they may not initially understand how a free person lives, His Spirit will guide them into the truth of God’s Word so they will gradually learn and look more and more like the freed person they are (Jn 16:13). Last, while they do not know exactly what the future holds, God’s Word guarantees the Lord will be with them always and He will carry them through to glory (Heb 13:5; Jn 14:1-4; Rom 8:18).