John 8:31-36 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Anyone who sins is a slave to sin
1. We are slaves to sin
2. The Son sets us free
3. Remain in his Word
“You will not surely die.” It’s been thousands of years since the devil spoke those words in Eden. But ever since, Satan’s language has remained the same: lie, lie, lie. Sometimes he shouts it. Sometimes he whispers it. Sometimes
he speaks with such a natural, monotone voice that we don’t even suspect anything shady. But he still speaks. Listen. “You’re your own boss . . . you can have it all . . . you’re worthless . . . no one loves you . . . that’s unforgiveable . . . that was a cultural thing, not God’s will.” We live in a world where the devil’s dialect is spoken all around us. That is why it’s so important for us to listen to the voice of the One who is the Truth. God willing, over the next six weeks, we’ll walk with our Savior in his Word. As we do, we’ll see him suffer. We’ll see him die. We’ll see him rise again. But we’ll also hear him speak. As we listen, we’ll hear him repeatedly assure, “I tell you the truth.”
Now, the truth is not what we always want to hear. We don’t want to hear that those jeans look a little too tight. We don’t want to hear that the girl or guy we’re dating isn’t the best influence on us. We don’t want to hear that we made
a mistake at work. Too often, “truth” is more about how we want something to be rather than what it really is. (Joel Heckendorf) Jesus told a truth that the people of his day didn’t want to hear: If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The only truth that these Jews wanted to hear is that they were children of Abraham. They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone.” Well, yes they had. Maybe not in their lifetime. Maybe not actually owned by someone. But Judea hadn’t been really free in centuries. Their self-righteousness blinded them even to that historical fact. They would not accept Jesus’ claim that they needed freedom because they had all they needed. They had their spiritual pedigree and that was enough.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Slaves to sin. That’s who they were. That’s who we are. Born with sin we are born to sin. Sin emerges in our day-to-day behavior with little difficulty. Angry words, jealousy, greed, gossip and the desire for revenge pop up frequently. Often they trap us and make life miserable. But, it’s worse than that. Jesus reminds us that by nature we can do nothing but sin. We can’t escape the cycle of sin, cover-up, excuse and denial.
Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. No one knows that better than Satan but that doesn’t stop him from trying to convince people otherwise. He wants us to believe that sin is liberating. He wants us to dismiss God’s guidelines about sex and marriage as being too restrictive. He wants us to use freedom of speech as an excuse to say whatever hurtful thing we want. He wants us to think sin is no big deal.
Are you a sinner? I doubt that anyone here would disagree. Are you a slave to sin? Again, no disagreement? Does your sin warrant eternal punishment in hell? Now, we might begin to protest a little. “Sure, I sin but I’m not a bad as some others. I sin, but it’s just little stuff. I don’t hurt anybody.” Do you hear the voice behind those excuses? It’s the lies of the Liar. Sin is a big deal. Your sin is a big deal. Your sin separates you from God and keeps you out of his family.
Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. One of the worst things about being a slave in the old South was the constant threat of being sold. Sometimes slaves were sold as a way of punishment. Even a well-behaved slave could be sold, if the master needed money. Imagine the anxiety of having a home that you couldn’t be sure of. They lived in constant fear of upsetting the master, of trying to win his favor, but never able to be sure about the future.
Many people think that their relationship with God is the same way. Their relationship with God is shaky at best and they live in fear that they don’t measure up. Not only are they slaves to sin, they are slaves to fear.