Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[ to sin. John 8:34

Why does Jesus say, “Truly, truly” or literally “Amen! Amen!”- which, by the way, occurs 25 times in the gospel of John – meaning to affirm and confirm a statement, and emphasize what is to be said. Jesus wants us to know that everyone (I think that includes all!) who sins is a slave to sin. The wording here actually describes something that is done habitually and repeatedly – perhaps even without remorse – placing the doer in bondage, ultimately making sin their master.

Earlier, Jesus claimed to be the one and only source of spiritual truth, and those who accepted Him would be set free from the enslavement of sin (John 7:37–38; John 8:12). Jesus is pointing out that sin is a mark of following darkness, instead of His light (1 John 1:5-10). Sin, by definition, means choosing earthly, worldly things over heavenly things.

What Jesus is not saying is that all sin, at all times, should be interpreted to mean that the sinner has no relationship to Christ. The Greek of this phrase makes this nuance much easier to understand than any English translation. The exact phrasing used is pas ho poiōn ho hamartia doulos ho hamartia. This means “everyone who keeps practicing sin is a slave of sin.” In other words, Jesus is now speaking of a habitual, persistent sin. Those who are free in Christ may stumble into darkness, but they do not perpetually “walk” in it (John 8:12).

Someone said, “We’re too Christian to enjoy sin and too sinful to enjoy Christ. We’ve got just enough Jesus to be informed, but not enough to be transformed.”

Most of our sins are little ones and rarely get us on the 10:00 o’clock news. Few of us are ever convicted of robbery, murder, or rape. The majority of Christians manage to avoid the big “whopping” sins most of the time. That’s why when a Christian does break the law, it’s news. Satan wants us to believe the lie that repentance means getting rid of the big stuff but not worrying about the little stuff. He knows more houses are destroyed by termites than dynamite. Wow! The “little” sins repeat themselves over and over again, boring little holes in our souls eventually bleeding us of all faith and spiritual energy. So, whether big or little, we have to break the sin habit in order to grow in Christ. But how? First, admit it, ask his forgiveness, and then trust God will fill the hole where the sin used to be with something better!

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:31). We need to abide in and obey his word, which usually means making significant changes in our lives. He will help us if we just ask.

Deb Hill

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