The Spirit of Slavery and the Spirit of Sonship


We are workers approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel and to participate in His great mission. Then, what is our attitude toward the gospel? It is a very important matter.

As spiritual harvesters who spread the seed of the gospel and gather the wheat, which spirit do we have, the spirit of slavery or the spirit of sonship? Do we not work with the spirit of slavery, just treading the courts? There is a great difference between the spirit of slavery and the spirit of sonship.

A man with the spirit of sonship shares in God’s sufferings so that he may also share in His glory

Let us suppose that there is a servant in a rich farm. Thinking that it is enough just to receive his wages, the servant does not faithfully do the work of sowing seeds and making them grow well but spends every day lazily. He shrinks his work on the pretext of wind, heat or rain.

However, a son faithfully sows seeds and tends them so that they may bear fruit. Even under the scorching hot sun, he works joyfully, expecting the fruits in autumn; for he himself is the owner of the fruits, earned by his sweat during the heat of summer. Thinking that the golden-yellow autumn grains and fruits are his own, he does not find his work laborious even in the summer’s heat.

Thus, there is a fundamental difference between the spirit of slavery and the spirit of sonship. Keeping this in mind, let’s think over what should be our attitude toward the gospel.

“because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. … The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”Ro 8:14-18

We are the children of God-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ-who are to share in Christ’s sufferings in order to also share in His glory. Now, we have to ask ourselves whether we have the spirit of slavery or the spirit of sonship as the gospel workers.

Every member of our Church is quietly doing what is entrusted to him and carries out every part of his duty. The Bible says that there are many things that may cause suffering or anger in the process of doing the work of the gospel. It also says that there are two kinds of people: those who have the spirit of sonship and endure hardship for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, and those who have the spirit of slavery and spend their days lazily, counting on receiving their monthly wages.

Those who have the spirit of sonship are God’s heirs, Christ’s heirs. They endure their present sufferings gladly for the glory that they will receive. As God’s sons, they think that they can attain something only through suffering. They endure all difficulties and hardships so that they may have a bright future-to receive their inheritance.

However, those who have the spirit of slavery refuse to suffer. They just passively do what they are told. They are unwilling to suffer, thinking that there is no need to suffer. So they can never receive the glorious inheritance in heaven.

The spirit of sonship is the spirit of Christ

Let’s think of the Apostle Paul who suffered for the sake of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven; he had often gone without food and sleep, and had been cold and naked and flogged. He certainly had the spirit of sonship. As he was a son of God, he endured all kinds of difficulties and devoted his life to preaching the gospel, longing for his heavenly inheritance.

“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”Gal 4:6-7

We shall inherit the kingdom of heaven through God. Everything we do for the sake of the heavenly kingdom is for our own inheritance and glory reserved in heaven, not for others.

Inheritance belongs to a son, not a slave. A farmer’s son works hard in the summer heat, irrigating the field, spraying weed killers, …. He works so hard because all fruit crops belong to his father and will be given to him as an inheritance after all.

How about you? Do you want to be a son or a slave? A son works harder to bear more fruit, while a slave idles away his time. As ministers of the gospel, we have received the spirit of sonship, not the spirit of slavery, so that we may receive the infinite blessing of heaven.

Jesus showed Himself to be a son, not a slave; He was an example of sonship while He was in the flesh.

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, … Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Mel-chizedek.”Heb 5:7-10

The Apostle Paul said, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” If He had been a slave, He would not have suffered. For a slave receives his wages on the regular payday and he doesn’t feel the need to suffer.

As for a son, however, he doesn’t work for wages. He puts all his heart and energy into his work, hoping for a good harvest. With the spirit of sonship, Jesus perfectly obeyed the will of God, leaving us the glorious seed of salvation.

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. … But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”Isa 53:1-5

Jesus suffered greatly for our sins; He was despised and rejected by men, even though He did not deserve such treatment. He willingly walked the thorny path, the path of obedience, for His loving children, because He couldn’t save them without sacrificing Himself.

Those who have the spirit of bondage cannot become like Christ. He set the perfect example of sonship by walking the way of suffering, so that we should follow in His steps. Only after overcoming difficulties and hardships can we experience the brilliant glory of heaven and inherit the kingdom of God as His sons and daughters. Only after overcoming the pain and suffering, we can improve our level.

Be ready like a wise servant

The fruit of the gospel has been produced more abundantly in hot summers and cold winters than in warm springs and cool autumns. In other words, we’ve found more brothers and sisters under inferior circumstances than under favorable conditions. Considering this, we can realize that God sees whether we, His workers, have the spirit of sonship or the spirit of slavery.

In the following parable, Jesus gives us a good example of sonship.

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”Mt 24:44-47

In the above parable, ‘the faithful and wise servant’ represents the person who has the spirit of sonship. When his master returns and finds him giving his household their food at the proper time, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. He willingly does the hard work assigned to him. Isn’t he a true son and heir?

Many verses record that only God’s children, His heirs, are allowed to receive all of His inheritance. They will inherit the eternal kingdom of God. For they work diligently day and night, preaching the gospel, taking care of every little thing. They are really worthy of God’s sons, heirs of heaven.

Now, let us check ourselves whether or not we have the spirit of sonship, so that we will not weep and gnash our teeth, being thrown out into the outer darkness as worthless servants, on the day when God’s children inherit the kingdom of heaven. If anyone is a son but has the spirit of slavery, let him change his spirit that he may not be branded as a wicked servant just as described in the Bible.

“But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time, and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”Mt 24:48-51

A wicked servant idles away his time, eating and drinking. He does not correctly understand his master’s will and fails to practice it, and consequently he deserves punishment. So God tells us to be wise and faithful servants, showing two types of people-those who have the spirit of slavery and deserve eternal fire in hell, and those who have the spirit of sonship and deserve eternal inheritance in heaven. From the parable of the good servant and the wicked servant, we need to learn a spiritual lesson.

We are all sons of God, called by Him to do the work of the gospel in the last days. Let us participate in the gospel with the spirit of sonship, so that we may receive the crown of glory and all the blessings prepared for us.

Loving brothers and sisters! Let us accomplish the gospel with the spirit of sonship, as sons and daughters of the Spirit and the Bride, giving thanks to Them for Their sacrificial love towards us, so that our Father will come quickly.