Father or Master? Slave or Son?

Father or Master? Slave or Son?

Galatians 4:3-7 – In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Ephesians 2:3 – …among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

When our daughter Ashley was first born, her mother and I held her, prayed for her, and kept telling her that we were her parents. Instinctively, we knew that she needed to know who we were and that we were there to love her, protect her, and provide for her.

What is true when we are born is also true when we are born again. The first thing we need to know is who our Parent is, “because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:6-7). The storyline of the Bible is that we are born as “slaves of sin” and “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Simply stated, we were born with Satan as our father, the same as the religious leaders Jesus rebuked, and we are enslaved by sin and death. When the Holy Spirit gives you a new heart and made you a new person, He also gives you a new Father and new freedom from sin.

Do you relate to God as master or Father?

Many people struggle with prayer because they wrongly view God as Master. If God is mean, unloving, controlling, harsh, and uses you, then running to Him to build a loving, intimate relationship by inviting Him into every aspect of your life is the very last thing you would do. Conversely, if God is your Father, that is the very thing you should do.

Do you see yourself as a slave or a son?

A son or daughter with a father lives from their identity. Conversely, a slave with a master lives for their identity. If they perform well and please the master, they are rewarded. If they fail to perform well for the master, they are punished. A slave has to earn their identity and can lose it at any time. This reality causes great pressure to perform, be perfect, and not disappoint in any way.

Many people—especially if they had a perfectionist, religious, demanding, military-minded, or competitive parent—are hardwired to believe in a works-based identity. A works-based identity is earned and can be lost. The opposite is a grace-based identity, which is not achieved by you but received by you as a gift from the Father given by your Big Brother Jesus that cannot be lost.

Consider Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Having spent the first roughly thirty years of His life obeying His parents as a kid and working a carpentry job with His earthly father as a young man, Jesus began His public ministry by being baptized. Before Jesus had seemingly preached a sermon, healed the sick, or performed a miracle, God the Father spoke from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). In the very next chapter, Satan shows up and says two times, “If you are the Son of God,” then you need to prove and achieve it by doing something (Luke 4:3,9). Jesus, by faith, believed who the Father said He was as Son, lived from that identity, and walked in spiritual victory.

As a dad, no matter what our kids do, I am still their dad who loves them, who wants to be a blessing to their life, and who lifts burdens, “When we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.…God sent forth his Son…so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:3-5).


  1. Do you view God as Father or master? Do you see yourself as a son or a slave?
  2. How do these views affect your prayers?

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Mark Driscoll
[email protected]

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