JN 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Some of us that read this may feel that we are just fine the way we are and we don’t see a need to be set free from anything. Others may feel the strangulation of a besetting or habitual sin and deeply desire to be set free. Still others of live in quiet desperation as we hide our habitual sin and remain unwilling to admit we have a problem. And for some, we have a family member who is enslaved to sin and it is painful, even heartbreaking, to watch the life being squeezed out of them.
Any addiction, whether alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, cigarettes, or even food, is a form of idolatry. The first commandment is, “You shall not have any other gods before Me.” The second commandment is, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them” (ref. Exodus 20). When we become addicted, we are really bowing down and serving that addiction as our god. In turn, we become a slave to it and we are held in bondage. Jesus said recorded in John 8:34, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”
As we read the text at the top, we realize that some of the Jews claim that their relationship with Abraham kept them from bondage. In this case, as these Jews see it, they had never been in physical bondage or slavery. They argued that as Abraham’s descendants, they had always been free. I’m not sure why but apparently they forgot or omitted the fact that they (the Jews) had been enslaved to the empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Why were they enslaved to these empires? They had turned their backs on God and worshipped other Gods. God warned them and called them to repentance many times but they ignored God. In doing so, they chose slavery over the freedom that only comes through a personal relationship with God and results in obedience to God.
It is similar with us. We also seem to struggle with admitting our slavery to sin. This seems to be especially true when the sin is habitual. You might have said these things yourself. “It’s not a problem. A lot of people do it.” “I don’t have a problem. I can quit anytime I want.” “It’s not really affecting me. I just do it on the weekends.” In case you didn’t realize it but when we reject God, we are essentially choosing slavery to sin. After all, slavery includes physical and spiritual dimensions. The Jews not only endured physical bondage but spiritual slavery as well.
So now are you finally ready to be set free? Finally? If so, you need to know the following:
First, Jesus offers us the truth that can set us free. The gospel is truth. The gospel, the good news that Jesus loves us and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, provides freedom. If we accept the truth of the gospel our sins are forgiven and we have a new life in Christ. In fact, being set free always begins with becoming born again or saved by the grace of Jesus. (ref. John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9,13)
Second, we are not only set free by the gospel but we are set free from the power of sin. Any person who sins—in an ongoing cycle of sinning—demonstrates that they are slaves to sin. The point the Apostle John is making is that a slave is not a son and therefore not in God’s family. Membership in any family, even Abraham’s family, makes no difference whatsoever. Membership in an earthly family cannot offer us status in heaven. But through faith in Jesus, the Son from heaven, we have eternal status with God and are heirs to His kingdom. You might say, we are family instead of slaves through Christ.
Unfortunately, there are many people who claim they are Christians but their lifestyle and habits demonstrate otherwise. Jesus makes this point by using an illustration of seed sown on different kinds of soil (Matt. 13:18-23). The soil, of course, describes our spiritual condition. In other words, the condition of our heart. In this parable, Jesus describes various responses to the gospel. According to this parable our spiritual condition can be described as either hard pan (path), rocky, weedy or fertile. For example, in His description of the rocky soil, Jesus compares it to someone who initially receives the good news (gospel) with joy. But when encountering difficulty, this person falls away because insincere faith in Jesus is often abandoned when adversity comes. And, in our adversity, we often choose an addiction to fill our void and as a means to cope with our desperation instead of trusting that Jesus is sufficient.
Please be warned. And by all means, take this warning in the love of Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that faith in Jesus without works or actions to back it up is all in vain (ref. James 2:14-26). As such, if you repeatedly, habitually do bad things and remain unrepentant, you most likely do not truly know Jesus as Savior and Lord. In reading 1 John 3:1-6, to “practice” sin is to sin consistently as a way of life. It does not refer to committing an occasional sin. It is clear that no Christian is sinless (ref. 1 John 1:8-10), but the fact is, God expects a true believer to sin less and less through His grace and power, not to sin habitually.
I’m not sure if you are ready or not to be truly set free. That is up to you. But when you are, your church family stands ready to guide you and help you through the power of the God breathed Word of God (ref. 2 Timothy 3:16). You might be afraid but you don’t have to be. Jesus is calling you home and His arms are stretched wide to receive you. “So if the Son set you free you are free indeed.” Now that is a promise!
A Work in Progress,