The apostle Paul, whose letters pre-date John's Gospel, used a similar analogy of slavery to sin that we see in today's reading. So were John's portrayals of the words of Jesus influenced by Paul or was Paul influenced by the oral tradition that was later written down in John?
It might actually be both. As all of these writings are part of the New Testament, they are a part of our Christian heritage and faith. As we continue to study the word, we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free as Jesus states in verse 32.
Slavery to sin is a topic that continues to be relevant today. Sin can be defined in many ways - I like the analogy of "missing the mark" in shooting at a target - the target being God's will for this argument.
As we consider the first commandment (of the 10), we are to have no other gods before the one true God. As Jesus presented the top commandments, we are to love God with all our being and to love our neighbors as ourselves. I think that loving God, self and neighbor is important. However, sometimes we transpose God and self so that our will becomes primary over God's will. This often comes with a lot of justification of how our will really is God's will. We get pretty good at these mental gymnastics.
When we become self-centered in this way, we become slaves to sin. As we remain in Christ, we recognize the proper order of things and are free from sin because we are seeking after God's will.
|We now have access to all these forms|
of entertainment on a single device.
While wonderful, it also means that today's
generation has more temptation for
indulgence than at any time in history!
This is not to say we should totally deny ourselves. Sometimes we need to indulge a little to enjoy life. But when indulgence becomes our sole reason for living, life becomes shallow and we wonder why we don't have real joy anymore. We have become slaves to sin.
The apostle Paul recognized this and he received this from his faith in Christ. Hopefully, we do as well!
Prayer for the day:
Set our hearts on fire with love of you, O Christ our God, that in that flame we may love you with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and our neighbors as ourselves; so that, keeping your commandments, we may glorify you, the giver of all good gifts. Amen.
Prayer from the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
Photo by Paul Townsend via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.