On Personal Bondage

At its most basic level the Bible teaches that bondage to sin is deeply personal. It is not only a cosmic or social reality that exists “out there,” but also an inward imprisonment. As Jesus declares, “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg explored the implications of this text in a way that might surprise our democratic ears:

There is no natural freedom [according to the Bible], and making choices does not yet guarantee our freedom. In John 8, we have this conversation between Jesus and his Jewish partners who are proud of being freeborn and not slaves. Jesus tells them, “If you sin, you are a slave. You will be free when the Son makes you free.”

Pannenberg goes on to explain:

Christian proclamation should have criticized the Western ideology of freedom by telling the public that having choices doesn’t mean freedom. The alcohol-addicted person or the drug-addicted person is also making choices. The problem is that he or she always makes the same choice – to take the drug or drink the bottle – again and again. Having choices doesn’t yet guarantee freedom.

Even though we don’t sense that our freedom has been compromised, Jesus said that it has. Under sin’s dominion this virus affects everything we do. In fact, it affect every aspect of who we are.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe Pannenberg that having choices doesn’t yet guarantee freedom?
  2. Do you believe sin not only affects what we do, but also who we are? If so, how does that affect our surroundings and what we believe ourselves to be?

Resources

Kelly Kapic, God So Loved, He Gave, 37.

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2 thoughts on “On Personal Bondage

  1. Now you are getting into some good stuff! Choice is a freedom but our choices can certainly lead to bondage. It’s your second question that really intrigues me though. Does sin affect who we are and what we believe ourselves to be? OR, does what we believe ourselves to be affect who we are and whether we sin? I would suggest the bigger question is who we see ourselves to be. We are told we are children of God but how many of us really feel that way? Or, how many of us feel that way and aren’t ashamed because we think of ourselves as misbehaving, shameful children who should (try to) hide from God? Then, in our shame, we are led to sin, fooled thinking it is a balm of what is really hurting us?

    I’ll let others give more succinct, more cohesive and better thought out answers but I love where you are going with this because it goes deep into our core and makes us answer the most important question. Who am I end the eyes of my Creator and Savior.

    1. Jeff,
      Thanks for the thought provoking response. I like how you put it, even though I had to read your comment a few times.

      One statement caught my attention. You say, “Then, in our shame, we are led to sin, fooled into thinking it is a balm of what is really hurting us.” I believe many think of sin this way. They think it is a balm that removes the pain, when it is sin that is causing the pain in the first place. It’s the cords of sin cutting into their bound lives that hurt them. We often don’t realize sin is really bondage causing us pain. We think if we shrug off God we are free, but we really aren’t. We are in bondage to something painful – sin and Satan.

      I like where the author is going I quoted in that we are all in bondage to something. That something is either sin or God. None of us are free. We are all owned by something or someone. If we are owned by sin, we experience pain and hurt. If we are owned by God, we are right where we were designed to be so instead of experiencing pain and hurt, we experience joy and blessing.

      Thanks again for commenting. Blessings.

      Casey Lewis

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