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Sermon October 29, 2023

Reformation Sunday Slave to Sin Sermon

John 8:31-36

Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

This morning I am going to ask you a very important question.  The question is “Are you a slave to sin?” Now, don’t look at me like that.  Yes, the question does sound ridiculous.  No one here this morning has been forced into slavery. 

And no one here has been sold and treated as a possession by someone else.  We hear of slavery and human trafficking in other parts of the world, and we give thanks to God that this activity is not happening here.

We live in America.  We have rights.  We are all equal, and we all enjoy the same rights and the privileges.  Past generations have fought wars, and won, to ensure our freedom.  So, why I am asking the question “Are you a slave to sin” this morning?

I am asking the question because in six short verses today, Jesus talks about slavery and freedom.  And the folks that were hearing His teaching would have reacted the same way we do when we are asked this question. 

In a proud and dignified voice, the people shouted out “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone.”  Verse 33 a

Really.  When Jesus spoke these words, the Jews were slaves of the Roman political and military machine.  A foreign army was stationed on their territory, and they had to pay taxes to a foreign government.  That does not sound like freedom to me.

And the religious leaders were no better.  Wearing lavish clothing and expensive jewelry and speaking in a loud voice, the religious leaders thought they had it all figured out.  When it comes to God, the religious leaders thought they knew all that they needed know. 

So when it comes to the subject of freedom, the religious leaders felt that they knew how to please God.  Therefore, one must not put “descendants of Abraham,” and the word “slaves,” in the same sentence.  In their mind they were the cat’s meow.

But Jesus turned their world view upside down.  And He turns our world upside down.  Jesus said: “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” Verse 34  

In other words, the Jews, the religious leaders, you, and me, we are all slaves to sin.  And a slave has no freedom, has no escape, has no rights, and has no hope.  And we will remain slaves until someone pays the price to set us free.

And so, I ask you again “Are you a slave to sin?”  Think about it.  What enslaves you?  What sin keeps cropping up in your life that you can’t control? 

Paul wrote in Romans 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:18-20    

In other words, we are all slaves to sin.  We can’t escape it.  Sin controls our lives and our world.  And we are powerless against it.

Thankfully, there is hope.  As Martin Luther described it.  “No strength of ours can match His might!  We would be lost, rejected.  But now a champion comes to fight, whom God Himself elected.” 

“You ask who this may be?  The Lord of Hosts is He!  Christ Jesus, mighty Lord, God’s only Son, adored.  He holds the field victorious.”  Hymn Verse 2 of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

Today in our text, Jesus uses the word “free” in a new and powerful way.  Jesus said: “The truth will set you free” and “If the Son sets you free then you will be free indeed.”

Jesus is the One who can free us from the power of sin that brings us down, and condemns us, and creates a wall between us and God.  Jesus is the One who can bring freedom from the power of sin to drag us to hell and entrap us in eternal damnation.

Today, on reformation Sunday, we celebrate the fact that God so loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son to be our Redeemer.  And it is this truth that we acknowledge and lift up in the Second Article of the Apostles Creed.

When Luther described what the Second Article meant, he said this.  “I believe that Jesus Christ – true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary – is my Lord.”

“He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, and has freed me from sin, death, and the power of the devil, not with silver and gold, but with His Holy and precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.”

“He has done all this in order that I might be His own, live under Him in His Kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is Risen from the dead and lives and reigns for all eternity.  This is most certainly true.”

And that, my friends, is the very core and center of the Bible.  It is the truth that the church is instructed to proclaim.  Jesus has rescued us, He has paid the price, He is the One who has released us from all our sins. 

On Reformation Sunday we celebrate the fact – the Good News – “If the Son sets you free, then you will be free indeed.”  And to that I say: “Thanks be to God.”

Let us pray: Almighty God, gracious Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit upon your faithful people.  Keep them steadfast in your Word, protect them and comfort them in all temptations, defend them against all the enemies, and bestow upon the Church your saving peace.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.