Have you ever been entangled? I remember times when in the scrub, getting caught up with a blackberry vine. The moment you step into the vine, you are its prisoner. Very carefully, you have to untangle yourself so that you can continue your journey. While you are in the grip of the vine, it is impossible to take one more step in your journey.
In John 8:31-35, Jesus equates ‘Sin’, as being a captor, which once touched firmly takes charge of a person’s life. Jesus however, uses a different analogy here, he uses the idea of a ‘bonded servant’, which we sometimes mistake for ‘slave’. The difference in our Modern English is that a slave is captured and forced into service, whereas a ‘bond servant’ has an agreement. This makes little sense to us today, as such employment is illegal in our Country.
A bondservant would choose their master and the house in which they would serve. This is found in Deuteronomy 15:17. As a sign of the contract, the master would drive an awl (a spiked tool) through the earlobe of the servant, marking them as bonded forever. The servant would then live out their life serving that master.
When someone deliberately chooses to give in to temptation and sin, the soul is captured by sin and they lose their ability to stand against sin. Most of us do not realize it at the time, but slowly, once we are the Devil’s, he begins to corrupt our soul, one little sin at a time, till we are completely bound in his blackberry patch of sin. We need someone to set us free, we cannot do that for ourselves.
In reflection, very few people enjoy true freedom. Especially in the area of religion. Even in sections of Protestantism, people find themselves bound by peer and family pressure. This is amplified in other religions where we even hear of ‘Honour Killing’ when a member of the household changes faith.
Jesus was challenging a very rigid group of religious people, who believed through their ceremonies, that their ‘sins’ were eradicated. Yet even though they had performed cleansing ceremonies, they were still in bondage to their sins. Not only did certain sins stain their souls and make them unclean before God, but that same spirit of sin also held their souls captive to both its desires and its penalties.
The slave of sin has no future in the Kingdom of God. If a person’s life is defined by sin, their soul
perishes after death. Our only possible hope is to be set free by a benefactor who will pay the ‘sin price’ that keeps our soul in bondage. For a slave to be set free, they needed to have the contract price paid by a benefactor who would purchase them and then grant them freedom. This does not make sense in a society where we can on a whim, tell our employers ‘what to do with their job.’ Yet that was both the reality of the people in Jesus’ day.
The price of our purchase was the blood of our Creator. On the Cross, Jesus gave His life to purchase the freedom of our souls. Once His, we are adopted into the household of God, as the Children of God.
So who is your Master? The Lord of Sin or the Lord of Glory? The choice is ours, to which house do you want to belong?