Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36).
Whenever words are repeated in the Bible we should take notice. The Holy Spirit has placed them there and repeated them for particular emphasis. He does not want us to miss the principle and biblical truth He has chosen to impart and/or reveal.
Therefore, when Jesus answers the religious leaders in John 8:34 and says, “truly, truly, I say to you…” He is emphasizing that what He is about to say is indeed a “true truth” that must not be ignored or rejected. The Greek word for truly is not unfamiliar to us. It is the word ἀμήν (amen). It means a strong affirmation for what has been declared, such as a prayer. Or in the case of today’s text, it is a strong affirmation for what will be declared.
Jesus says, “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” The word “practices” is the Greek Word ποιέω (poieo) which means to perform, to do or to behave. In this text it is a present tense and active voice verb. Therefore, the word means to do continually do something.
What is that which is practiced? Jesus says “sin.” Sin (ἁμαρτία/ harmartia) means to engage in wrongdoing. It is wrong behavior or actions which violates the will or law of God. Jesus says that everyone who practices sin or continually engages in wrong behavior which violates the will or law of God is a slave to sin.
I want you to take notice of a small, seemingly insignificant word. It is the word “is.” It is a present active verb describing a person’s state of being or present condition. In this case, a person’s present condition in relation to sin. The person who continually practices sin “is” a slave to sin. The word “slave” means one who is subservient to and controlled by sin.
Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “The kind of slavery that Jesus had in mind was not physical slavery but slavery to sin (cf. Rom. 6:17–18). The idea of “commits sin” means to practice sin habitually (1 John 3:4, 8–9). The ultimate bondage is not political or economic enslavement but spiritual bondage to sin and rebellion against God. Thus, this also explains why Jesus would not let himself be reduced to merely a political Messiah (John 6:14–15).”
As one other commentator says, “The very act of committing sin reveals that the one doing the act is under the power and authority of sin. Sin is personified as a cruel master. Paul used the same illustration (Rom. 6:15–23).”
Jesus continues by saying that one’s continual obedience to and practice of sin reveal a person’s true spiritual condition. While the Jewish leaders in this context, and the nation as a whole, believed they were free sons of Abraham they really were slaves to sin. They were not genuine sons of God and were in danger of facing a Christ-less eternity without God.
Jesus, on the other hand, is the true Son of God who sets spiritual slaves free from sin so that they in turn become free children of God. The word free (ἐλευθερόω/eleuthero) means a release from an association with a person or an institution on the basis that the earlier obligation or restriction is no longer relevant or in force. It also means liberty from the dominion of sin. It is those who Christ’s frees from spiritual bondage who are truly free.
Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
The conclusion Jesus gives is, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” This is one of the many cause and effect statements contained in the Gospel of John. If one truth is true, then it stands to reason that another truth will be equally true because of the preceding truth of which it is connected.
Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Jesus is the true Son and seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16). He remains in the house and is over it (Heb. 3:6). People can become truly free by becoming sons of God by faith in Christ, the Son (Gal. 3:26).”
Are you truly free from the dominion of sin? Have you received the freedom and liberty to live a life glorifying to God which only Jesus Christ can truly give? If not, then respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, repent of your sin and receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!