Slaves to Sin

When non-church going folk have their fault, flaw, or failure revealed, the most common explanation is, “nobody’s perfect.”

Jesus says something similar in John 8:34, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”

Jesus’ words are shocking and jarring. I live in the “land of the free” where we sing songs about freedom, have holidays for freedom, and vote for whatever candidate we think will best defend our freedom.

Are you really and truly free?

What could Jesus possibly mean telling nice decent moral religious folks that they were “slaves to sin”?

For starters, we need to define sin. Sin is both a condition that we all have and actions that we all do. Sin includes the thoughts we have, words we speak, deeds we do, and motives that drive us. Sin includes omission where we do what is wrong. Sin also includes omission where we do not do what is right.

In saying that we are a “slave to sin”, Jesus is teaching us that THE biggest human problem that is ultimately underneath all of our other problems is our sin problem. To be a slave means that someone or something has control over us which means we are not free. Apart from Jesus, we are all “slaves to sin”.

Admittedly, Jesus’ words likely feel more like a punch to the jaw than a kiss on the cheek. Our first response is likely defensive, denying that we are “slaves to sin”. To prove Jesus wrong, all we’d need to do is demonstrate our freedom by never sinning again, thereby showing that we rule over sin and that sin does not rule over us. Some people have even earnestly tried to be perfect. But, we all arrive at the same conclusion: “nobody’s perfect”.

Just a few verses later in 8:46 Jesus asks this astonishing question, “Which one of you convicts me of sin?” Jesus declares that He alone is perfect and not a slave to sin but rather the Master who rules over sin. In response, a growing plot emerges to put Him to death. Before long, Jesus is put to death on the cross in the place of us sinners so that we could not only be forgiven, but set free from the penalty of sin and given a relationship with God that never ends as we enter eternity to forever be freed from the presence of sin.

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