Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Words of slavery are always the most optimistic. When there’s no escape, you don’t have to waste time hoping for something realistic. Addicts say things like, “I’m fine. It’s okay. I have a plan,” all the while lying in a gutter and smiling about it. It’s the ugly truth about the bondage of sin. The same kind of slavery happens under the Law in the name of religion. It doesn’t look like it’s the Law telling you what to do. It looks like it’s you who can’t keep from doing the stuff that’s killing you. You can even dare to think that it’s your job to fix it somehow. Those are the dreams that leave you wanting to love Jesus but hating yourself while looking for an excuse for everything you do that He says not to. When you can’t describe yourself without balancing your accomplishments and failures on a lopsided hill, hoping nobody notices, you know. Anyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.
If your religion is just false optimism based on trying harder in the face of everything that hasn’t worked yet, then Christianity has become a race towards not needing God. And that’s not working. It’s just the bold dreams of another addict. That’s not okay with the Son. He sets sinners free. He is bound to the Cross in their stead. He bears the weight of the bondage of sin. He dies for you, and your sins are forgiven. Now you are bound to the Cross, too. That’s where the real freedom is. It isn’t license to do whatever you want. It’s hope in an escape so rooted in reality that they buried Him in a tomb and three days later He moved the rock so you’d see. Jesus rose from death. You are free, indeed. You are free from having to fix this. You are free from being known by what the Law would call you. You are free from excuses that hide from wrath. You are even free to love yourself as God first loved you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
“This is the Christ, our God Most High, Who hears your sad and bitter cry; He will Himself your Savior be From all your sins to set you free.” (“From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” LSB 358, st.3)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is content executive for Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Discover new insights from each line of the Psalms in Engaging the Psalms: A Guide for Reflection and Prayer. Read, repeat, and return to the Lord as you walk through all 150 Psalms. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.