John 8:31-32 (CSB) — 31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:34 (NET) — 34 Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin.
We remember from our study in 1st John 3:6 the meaning of both the active present tense verbs, which communicate a state of being, and the Hebrew literary device known as “antithetic parallelism”, wherein the concept of “abiding” (μένων) informs the sense of the action being described; Jesus is saying that no one who abides in him will abide in sin.
The one whose lifestyle is characterized by repeated, continuous sin is a slave to sin. That one is not free; sin has enslaved them.
This is the human reality into which the gospel proclaims its good news of salvation, but we see ourselves in the Jews who argued with Jesus that they were not slaves to sin because they were the children of Abraham; likewise, we often find ourselves arguing with Jesus in the same way, insisting that we are not slaves of sin because we are the children of God even though we daily live in the reality of our bondage to sin.
Jesus is telling them to take an honest look at their life and see whether or not their claims correspond to reality, and we would do well to take an honest look at our lives as well.
The Jews insisted on putting dogma over truth and claimed to be the children of God even though the Devil’s murder burned in their hearts through unbelief. They refused to take an honest look at their lives to determine whether or not the fruit of their lives proved them to be the children of God or the children of the Devil:
1 John 3:8 (NET) — 8 The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:10 (NET) — 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness—the one who does not love his fellow Christian—is not of God.
The solemn truth of the gospel is that Christ has made know the path of freedom by his word to those who believe him and live in the truth. But do we insist that we are the free children of God even though we are not living in his word?
Jesus tells them how to find the path of freedom:
John 8:31-32 (CSB) — 31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Those who live in Christ’s word are free. Those who live in sin are slaves of sin and must seek forgiveness of sins from Christ by obeying his word!
Luke 24:46–47 (NET) — 46 and said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Acts 2:38 (NET) — 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.