34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
Jesus answered them,
Jesus addressed the Jews at the very issue where they deemed they were secure, that is, their identity with Abraham. He argued that the highest form of freedom is spiritual freedom, not religious, political or governmental freedom.
This is the third time in this chapter where Jesus used the words “most assuredly” or verily, verily (vv. 34, 51, 58). This is an emphatic “amen, amen.” These solemn words make the following statement important.
I say to you,
Jesus makes the point that ultimate slavery is not political but spiritual. This is a slavery of rebellion against God’s revelation in Christ.
whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
The word “commits” is not one act of sin but a lifestyle of sinning. Committing one sin does not make a person a slave to sin. Sin as a course of life constitutes slavery to sin. Jesus’ hearers were in bondage to their tradition and thus were not open to Christ the Messiah as their Savior. They were in slavery to their religion.
The slavery here is not from without but from within. The decline of resistance to sin accelerates the advance of more sin. Thus, the sinner becomes a slave to sin. A slave to sin here is taken captive by the sin of unbelief. He is unable to save himself from his condition.
And a slave does not abide in the house forever,
John gives a further description of slavery in this verse. A slave enjoys the rights of living in a house temporarily. Jesus answered the Jews claim that they were descendants of Abraham by contrasting a slave and a son. A slave does not remain in the owner’s house forever but only temporarily. He could be sold to someone else.
but a son abides forever.
A “son” has rights in the house, a slave does not. The Jews were like slaves, not sons. Spiritual kinship indicates the genuineness of relationship.
The “son” here is not the believer but Christ Himself. Everything comes back to the identity of Christ. His status in the family is freedom to offer liberty to others.
The argument of this verse is toward the negative volition of Jewish hearers. The Jews were like a slave living in a house that was not their own. They had no claim to the house and were not members of the house. They had no right to be in God’s family.
The only way a person can claim to be in God’s family is by faith in Christ as the Son of God. Only the Son can free a person from the bondage of unbelief.
The son here remains “forever” in the sense of eternal existence. Because He is what He is Christ can give freedom. The Son of God has rights, eternal rights.
Religion can enslave people so that they are not open to what God offers them.
Religion is no guarantee against God’s judgment. This is why people need a Savior, a Redeemer.
Jesus does not speak here of a special class of people but to those who commits themselves to the slavery of religion. Our biases can enslave our thinking so that we are not open to the claims of Christ.