”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’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
– John 8:33-38
Not only does the Bible teach us what we need to do about God, it also tells us what we need to know about ourselves.
In John 8, Jesus is having a passionate and public debate with religious leaders. He tells them, and us, that all of humanity can be divided into two groups.
Are you a slave?
Or, are you a son?
In that culture, much of the Roman empire held the legal status of a slave. Legally, a slave had no legal rights, was treated like property rather than a person, and did not receive any part of the family inheritance. Conversely, a son had legal rights, was treated as a beloved person, and received the family inheritance.
Satan treats people like slaves. God the Father treats people as sons.
In saying that both Christian men and women occupy the legal position of “son” Jesus is saying that living as a Christian is to live in love and blessing with the Son of God as our Big Brother, and the Father as our Divine Dad.
How you view yourself is called your identity. Your identity is formed in one of two ways.
- Option 1 – Your activity determines your identity. To say it another way: what you do chooses who you are. The problem with this is that since you are a sinner, that is all you will ever be and do, so change is not possible for you. Therefore, you should rejoice in who you are and be proud of your slavery to sin.
- Option 2 – Your identity determines your activity. To say it another way: who you are changes what you do. The benefit of this is that since you are a son you can change what you do because God has changed who you are. So, you can repent of who you are, walk away from your slavery to sin, and live in the freedom provided to the sons of God.
The key to changing what you do is to understand who God says you are. Over 300 times the Bible refers to people as sinners. Only upwards of three times does the Bible refer to Christians as sinners, and each of those occurrences is in debate as to whether it refers to a Christian or a non-Christian. But, over 200 times the Bible refers to the Christian as a saint, holy, righteous, or a son of God.
Why? Because if you are a Christian you are always a son but only sometimes a sinner. As a Christian, sin may explain some of what you do but does not define who you are.
Do you really and truly believe that you are a beloved child of God the Father?