34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36 NIV)
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of a bloody civil war. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” The Emancipation Proclamation was limited in its reach until December 6, 1865, when the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified banning slavery from the United States of America. Almost 150 years later you might think that slavery is history, long gone forever, but you would be so wrong.
Jesus said, “…everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” If the shackles of slavery were visible then we would see countless folks walking the halls of our office buildings, schools, and churches dragging chains behind them each and every day. We don’t use the word, “slave” or “slavery” very often any more, but we do use words like “addict” and “addiction.” We are slaves and addicts to the things that undermine our relationship with God, erode any hope of living out His purpose for our lives, and destroy our relationships as well as our very soul. We are shackled as slaves, crave that which can never fill us up, and satisfy the longing of our hearts. We are familiar with popular addictions that get all of the press, things like alcohol, drugs, and sex. Yet, Jesus said “everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
If I am a follower of Jesus then my longing should be that of the Psalmist who said, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV) Anything that seeks to replace the longing, the yearning, the passion for God is an enemy of the intimacy God desires for me to share with Him.
Jesus has come so that I might break free from the shackles of slavery to those things that vie for my heart. Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36 NIV) We desperately need the freedom that only Jesus can bring or we will never break free from that which looks so good, but in the end is sure to destroy us.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will help me to recognize those things in my life that seek to supplant You as the longing of my soul.