Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – John 8:34-36
Before we belong to Christ, there is no alternative than to rebel against God. No matter whether we decide to do what we deem good or chose what we consider wrong, we ended up making a choice that led us away from God. There is no other option. Even the best things we try to do are tainted with evil, such as selfishness. That is why Isaiah could write: “even our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
Sin leads us on it’s own pathway. A gentleman who had recently come out of prison once shared with me, “I told what I thought was a little white lie. I thought that it would make the situation better. But, you know, I found out that I had to tell another 40 lies to keep the first one. Then I found myself in trouble because of one of those lies. Then I ended up stealing something, to pay for the impression I had created.” Sin’s pathway keeps becoming steeper. You are not in control of the events it creates. You choose to tell one lie, and before you know it, you have to tell another.
The equivalent is true with anger. We decide we are going to put a little sharpness in our voice when we answer someone because they were impolite with us. We just want to hurt them a little and show we are the boss. But when we do it, what happens? They answer back in the same manner. So we cut a little deeper and shout a little louder, and before we know it, we are entangled in an argument and a conflict that we never desired. This all happens because we were a slave to sin. Sin pushed us further than we wanted to go.
I once overheard a conversation between two men on the bus, “It’s easy to quit smoking; I’ve done it dozens of times!” What a testimony that is, to the power these things have to grip us and to control us. That statement is a fine example of how sin works. It makes us feel we are in control, but keeps leading us down the same old path. Jesus statement in John 8:34 is ever true “…everyone who sins is a slave of sin.” We are in bondage to whatever controls our lives. The person who can’t say no to sugar is a slave to sugar. The Christian who cannot turn off the television to read the Bible or spend time with his or her children is a slave to the television. The person who cannot defeat an addiction to pornography is a slave to immorality. The person who monitors his or her stock portfolio every hour is a slave to money. We are slaves to whatever dominates our lives. The excellent news is that as believers we get to choose our master!