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October 25, 2013 A+D
St. John 8:31-36
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
Jesus is talking about you. You sin and therefore are a slave to sin. Not that it matters for this passage but we ought to note that we do not simply sin by mistake or weakness, but also by design. We’ve all suppressed our consciences, known what we were doing but done it anyway. We’ve sinned on purpose, with full knowledge, repeatedly. We’ve heard the voice of the new man in our minds telling us to stop gossiping or that what we’re saying isn’t accurate or that someone will be hurt by it, but we’ve also noted how our friends were either hanging on our words, looking at us with admiration and wanted to keep it going, or we’ve noticed how they were not paying attention to us and wanted them to and thought a little sin would make us interesting. So we’ve suppressed the good. We’ve embraced the evil. We’ve harmed not only our neighbors but also ourselves. We’ve enslaved ourselves to sin and let it rule over us.
How dare we say that we have fellowship with Christ, that we are His children and brothers, while we walk in darkness? We lie and do not practice the truth. If we are ruled by sin, if we cannot help ourselves, we do not have fellowship with Christ. We are not His children or His brothers. We are the sons of devil who do the work of the devil. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit.
Repent. The admonition to abide in the Word of Jesus is not simply an admonition to know the right doctrine. It is an admonition to live by His Word, to obey His commandments, to love what He loves and to hate what He hates. Do not say, “But we have Luther for our father and we love the Gospel and have never been slaves to anyone.” You have been slaves to your flesh and your heritage. You have twisted the Gospel into an excuse to sin and dared God to notice. He notices. He is not amused. He does not think it is cute or somehow your rightful liberty. He hates gossip. He hates drunkenness. He hates lustful eyes and evil thoughts. God threatens to punish all who break His commandments. Therefore we should fear His wrath.
Repent. Let every mouth be stopped. May the whole world be accountable. May the law bring knowledge of sin to us sinners.
The Lord says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” But that is only the first part. He does not end there. He defines what it is to be a slave: “The slave does not remain in the house forever;” so being a slave can end. But “the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Slaves of sin do not belong to sin. Sin casts them aside when they are displeasing. They do not abide in the house of sin.
You have enslaved yourself to sin, but you do not belong there. Repent. Turn from your sins. That is how you displease your old master and get cast aside. For you do not need to stay in the house forever. And if the Son sets you free by being sin and guilt in your place, by suffering your punishment in your stead and being declared guilty so that you are declared innocent, by dying and rising again for you, then you will be free indeed.
And if He makes you His son, His Beloved, you are no slave to be cast aside when you displease your Lord. You might sin, but you will not be cast aside. You are not a slave, but a son. So if you sin you are Gomer. He goes out to the marketplace and finds you and takes your shame upon Himself. He buys you back and cleans you up. He restores you to fellowship with the Father and even restores the marriage bed because He still loves and wants you despite what you’ve done. You are not a slave to be cast aside. You are a son and you remain a son forever.
Even when the son goes awhoring in foreign lands and follows strange gods and forgets his name, the Father remembers. He is His son forever. The Father waits and He watches. He runs eagerly to greet and restore him. He holds nothing back. All that is His is yours. He kills the fatted calf and puts the ring on your finger and rejoices with the angels and restores you also to your brothers.
You are not a slave to be cast aside because of sin. You are a son. The son remains forever. You were named with His Name in Holy Baptism. There is no taking that back, no casting aside of sons. You belong to Him.
How dare you say that you have fellowship with Him? Confess your sins. He is faithful and just. He forgives your sins. He cleanses you from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. So if you say you have not sinned, you go back to eating pods with pigs until you wake up and find the Father waiting for you, or, if you insist, you die and go to Hell. But if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just. He forgives sins. He restores fellowship. His accusations are turned from you to the Son who became your Brother and has declared you to be His son forever – forever innocent, forever Holy, forever His. You walk in the light as He is in the light, as He is the Light. You have fellowship with Him and with one another in the blood of Jesus which cleanses you from all sin. Thus you abide in His Word, in His Gospel, in His sonship and are truly His disciples, His sons, His Bride, and even His friends.
This is the Word of the Lord that endures forever. “We are justified by His grace as a gift received by faith.” If Martin Luther has left us a legacy, let it be this and nothing else.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.