Read: John 8:31-36
Being a slave to sin has its consequences, because sin makes one deaf and blind to the truth. When the Pharisees came to Jesus, they did not believe them because they were prideful, in that they were seeking glory for themselves. When Jesus points this out, they go on the defensive trying to do whatever they can to discredit Jesus and trap him into saying something that they could use against him. Throughout the entire discourse, Jesus maintains that he speaks the truth, that the Father is his witness to this fact, and they Pharisees do not believe because they are blinded by sin. Jesus says that if they believed, then the truth would set them free from sin – and rather be a slave to sin, they would be free in the truth. The slavery of sin for the Pharisees was their own personal glory.
The motif of sin as slavery is expounded on in Romans 6 in reference to salvation. The argument Paul makes in the chapter is that everyone who has faith in Christ was a slave to sin, but through Jesus’ death, all who believe are made free from sin. They are, in the same manner that Christ died, dead to sin. But Jesus did not say dead – he rose from the dead. In this way, Jesus was made alive after bearing sin. Those who believe in Jesus are made alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:19 also speaks of the perpetuation of sin: sin resulting in more sin. When sin matures, it results in death (Romans 6:23, James 1:14-15). Being freed from sin does not make one free as in one is no longer under bondage. One becomes a disciple of Christ, a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18). The result of righteousness though is sanctification and eternal reward with God – namely eternal life that comes from Jesus (Romans 6:21-23). This is achieved by Christ imbuing righteousness which comes through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But slaves in God’s house receive an elevated status to sonship through adoption. Those who are in Christ receive a spirit of adoption and are sons of God (Romans 8:10-25, particularly Romans 8:15).
Slavery in the New Testament times was not the typical depiction of slavery common in Western thought. Freemen usually entered slavery for the purpose of paying off debt that was owed to a bondsman. They would indenture themselves for a time to a master who had the right to transfer the debt owed to someone else. The slave, in order to be set free, had to pay off the debt owed. Sometimes, a master could assume the debt and set the slave free. An even more generous master would elevate a slave to a son making him effectively no different than one of his children. When Paul says the wages of sin is death, he is saying in a manner of speaking that the money owed for a slave to sin is death. Jesus then pays the debt owed to master – namely the law – for the slave and then becomes the slave’s new master. The new master then elevates the slave to a status of sonship, and therein is true freedom.
Those who believe in Jesus are no longer slaves to sin. For this reason, sin should not reign over Christians, rather God should. Christians should not make light of price that Jesus paid for their freedom – it cost him his life and he endured much suffering for it. Paul says that grace is not a license to sin, rather something that should compel those who believe to live their lives such that are slave to righteousness although they are free in Christ and have been adopted as sons into the family of God. Those who know Jesus are his disciples and should do what he says!
Lord, Thank you for setting me free! Help me to live in a worthy manner.