Contrary to what you might think, slavery is still in existence today. There are about 10 - 30 million of slaves in the world at present. Most of these are human beings trafficked into various countries--no country is really immune of this problem.
Victims include men, women and children who are in less developed countries and are economically vulnerable and undocumented. These slaves find themselves in either forced labor, involuntary servitude, or sexual exploitation. Most often, the use of force or coercion is what's keeping a person in bondage.
Although the chains of slavery and human trafficking exploits the body and is indeed repulsive, there is a much deeper form of slavery that is more hideous than what destroys the body. This form of slavery is the worst and most gruesome thing a human being could be bound into.
This type calls for the chains of Spiritual Slavery. Billions of people around the world are in bondage of this kind of slavery. People are bound in spiritual chains that force them to labor for their salvation, to serve other gods apart from the God of the Bible, and prostitute their souls to different practices and ceremonies that glorifies self and a created being rather than God the Creator Himself!
Unlike the slave who knows they were trafficked across international borders and are being abused, the sad thing about being a spiritual slave is that the person is not even aware that they are enslaved and bound in chains. The spiritual slave is blind of his depravity, unaware of the TRUTH of his soul's state and is ignorant of the TRUTH in God's Word. He/she is a hopeless case when freedom is offered because each individual does not believe in the chains that bind them.
The chains of spiritual slavery is masked in the ways of Religion. Religion is defined as a set of beliefs usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. It is man's attempt to reach God, and even man's laboring to appease the reality of God's wrath. It is man's striving to get right with God and man's trying to do God's job!
The chains of religion puts a person in BONDAGE. They will always have this striving to attain perfection or at least be "good enough" in order to please and appease God. They are enslaved with the striving and the attempts at piously and sincerely observing rituals and devotions in order to attain some form of soul cleansing. They are enslaved with the idea of trying their very best to be a good person. But there really is no end to this striving because the only standard called for by God is perfection. No-one will be able to attain that no matter how devoted a person is to the ceremonies and devotions of his or her religion! And because perfection is required, the person who is a spiritual slave is driven by wanting to do more for the sake of their own soul's salvation.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23)
The chains of religion gives a person a sense of PRIDE, SUPERIORITY and an elevated opinion of SELF. The spiritual slave depends on the amount of good works he or she is capable of doing in this lifetime, and eventually gets puffed up with pride when they consider their "religious effort and accomplishment" in this lifetime. In the end, the spiritual slave asks this very question:
"Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matthew 7:22)
You see, it results in a person's elevated opinion of Self. They get puffed up in their minds about their capabilities, their wisdom, their effort, their achievement in terms of religiosity and spirituality in this lifetime. They boast of their own strength, ability and power to accomplish that which was required of them by religion. They trust in their own effort to save themselves by penance, sacrifices, and by how much they've given of their finances, their time in prayer, their power in praying for themselves and others. Their confidence lies in the SELF. And because of that, they are blind to their NEED for a Savior.
We have to come to a point in our lives where we should examine ourselves if we have the chains of religion around our souls. Because unless we acknowledge the fact that we are slaves, we will never come to the point of accepting the offer of FREEDOM IN AND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST the Savior. Unless we accept that we are lost and depraved and hopeless on our own, we will never come to terms with the way of salvation that GOD offered through His One and Only Son.
Lastly, we ought to know that there are no slaves in the kingdom of God. Whoever remains a spiritual slave by the time JESUS CHRIST returns, he/she will face a tragic end to their story as one realizes that those bound with the chains of religion will be cast out in the end...
"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:23)
(Insights in this post are courtesy of the teachings of Pastor Barry Jeffries of Humble Area's First Baptist Church.)