Derek Prince - We Were Slaves Of The Devil
This excerpt is from: The Holy Spirit As Guide
Maybe I should, I think I will say this now, no I won't I'll come to it later. All right. So now we’re going to go on in Romans chapter 7 and Paul’s going to share his own personal experience. It’s encouraging because if it could happen to Paul It could happen to you and me. You says, What should we say then? Is the law sin? Was the law bad? Was it wrong? Certainly not. On the contrary, I would not have known sin unless through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, YOU SHALL NOT COVET. So it was the commandment, `You shall not covet’ that made me aware of covetousness.
See, before that I wasn’t aware of it. But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire; for from apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law; but when the commandment came, sin came to life, and I died. Now, you can ponder about that but let me suggest to you it’s true to experience. I’ll share my own experience, I think I’ve shared it previously one other session but When I was confirmed in the Anglican Church at the age of 15, for the first time I realized I needed to be a lot better than I was. So I learned all the questions, memorized all the answers, and I said now I’m confirmed, I’m going to be better. And I was quite sincere. The problem was the harder I tried to be good, the quicker I got bad. I was not nearly so bad until I tried to be good. Because I stirred up something in me, I didn’t know what it was, It’s what Paul calls the old man, the rebel, the flesh. And, he would not do the right thing.
My solution after about six months was it doesn’t work for me. I said maybe it works for some people but it doesn’t work for me. And in those days in the Anglican Church we prayed the general confession every Sunday morning and amongst other things we said, I don’t know whether they still say it: Pardon us miserable offenders. So in my rebellious teen attitude I said if all religion can do is make me a miserable offender, I can be an offender without religion and not nearly so miserable. So that was my personal decision. I’m not justifying what I’m doing but I am pointing out to you that It’s when you really try to do the right thing in your own strength that you realize you can’t do it. The harder you try the less you succeed. That was Paul’s experience. It happened to him, it happens to millions of people.
As a matter of fact, the people who don’t know how bad they are, are the ones who never tried to be good. Until you try to be good you don’t know what you’re struggling with. This is universal. See, the old man is the old man. He’s not the old Chinese man or the old Russian man or the old British man, because it all goes way back to our first forefather, Adam, who was a rebel. He never begat any children until he was a rebel and every descendant of Adam has the nature of a rebel in him which Paul calls the flesh, the old man. And until the law comes we can be quite happy and contented, Well, I’m as good as the rest. I’m not so bad after all. But when we see the law and say, That’s right, that’s what I need to do, that’s how I need to live, that’s when we discover what’s really inside of us. You see?
So the purpose of the law, the primary purpose, is to bring sin to light. Because otherwise we can be deceived all through our lives not knowing what we’re really like inside. Let me go on reading. Paul says The commandment verse 10 which was to bring life I found to bring death; for sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. It’s like sin is a sort of assassin. It’s almost like sin is personalized. And it was just waiting for an opportunity to get at me. So when I was faced with the commandment I said that’s what I’m going to do. Sin deceived me and through it killed me.
Now Paul says: Therefore, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. Paul is saying there’s nothing wrong with the law. That’s not where the problem is. The problem is in you and me. Then he raises this question. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. In other words, the result of the commandment is to bring sin out into the open and show us just how wicked it is and how powerless we are to deal with it. That’s the purpose of the commandment. There are other purposes but that’s the primary one. For we know the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.
That’s a very vivid picture, if I may pause for a moment. Because, in the culture of the Roman Empire when an army captured prisoners from another nation, very frequently they were sold as slaves in the slave market. And the soldiers took the price. And when a person was being sold as a slave they would stand on a block with a post behind them and a spear was thrust out from the post over their head. So to be sold as a slave, was to be sold under a spear. That was the phrase. So Paul says I am carnal, sold under sin. My sin is the spear that’s stretched out over my head that causes me to be sold as a slave. And something we need to bear in mind, when a slave owner buys a slave, the slave doesn’t decide what he’s going to do; the owner does.
And so you see, Satan has some respectable slaves and some less respectable slaves. But if you or I are one of the respectable slaves, let’s not despise the others because it’s not their choice, it’s Satan’s choice. One woman that becomes a slave may become a cook, another may become a prostitute but it’s not her decision, it’s the decision of the slave owner. So you see, some of us that are respectable, good living slaves, we can point the finger at the prostitute or the drug addict or whoever it may be and say, there you are. The truth of the matter is we’re all slaves. What kind of slaves we are, it’s not our decision, it’s the slave master that makes the decision.
The good news, which I might as well interrupt with now and then I’ll go back to my theme, is one day Jesus walked into the slave market and He said I’ll buy him, I’ll buy her, he’s mine, she’s mine, here’s the price: my precious blood. How would you feel if you were standing there on the slave block waiting to be sold? Naked, shivering with fear, people were walking up to you, prodding your skin to see how young you were or what health condition you were in. And then this wonderful prince of a man walks in and says I’ll buy her. And when He’s bought you He gives you your liberty. You’d be excited, wouldn’t you? See, the problem with us as Christians is we’re not nearly excited enough, because we don’t really see what God has done for us.