The DEEP

Bondage

Who's in control?

John 8:32–36

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you  shall be free indeed.”

As always, Jesus is so focused on His mission that He resists their distractingly ridiculous comment and keeps on making His point. Saint Augustine has a thorough takedown.

They puffed themselves up as Abraham’s seed and said, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”

O inflated skin! This is not magnanimity; it is hot air! For even if you want to talk about freedom in this life, how were you truthful when you said, “We were never in bondage to anyone”? Wasn’t Joseph sold? Weren’t the holy prophets led into captivity? And again, didn’t that very nation, when making bricks in Egypt, also serve hard rulers, not only in gold and silver but also in clay?

If you were never in bondage to anyone, ungrateful people, why is it that God is continually reminding you that he delivered you from the house of bondage? Or do you perhaps mean that your ancestors were in bondage, but you who speak were never in bondage to anyone? How then were you now paying tribute to the Romans, out of which you formed a trap for the truth himself, as if to ensnare him?—Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John (as translated in The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture)

But this kind of slavery isn’t what Jesus is talking about, so He just keeps going. Maybe they’ll catch on eventually.

I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.

Jesus isn’t just describing a feature of sin; He’s presenting a whole new concept of what sin is.


Think sin isn’t slavery? Try to stop sinning. So, who’s in control? That’s slavery.

And look at the extreme case of someone who has destroyed his or her life through sin. What was the driving force behind everything going wrong? Was it not the self-centered pursuit of happiness? How is it that the pursuit of happiness can lead directly to its opposite?

It’s the result of not being in control. Something else is overriding.

When you’re not in control, you’re a slave.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.