As we are now coming to better understand, the very nature of sin is one of bondage and enslavement; why is that? Think: in what position does the self-destructive nature of sin inevitably put one in relation to others who, though sinners themselves, are not as captive, or at least not as captive in the same way? Why is this especially true in light of fallen man’s selfish nature that exploits others to his own advantage? Because some are not as captive, what rule—i.e., what rules and regulations—are they able to impose, whether by force or because those who are more captive to their sins willingly relinquish their personal freedoms and submit to others in hope of some measure of deliverance from their real bondage? How is this different from those who have been redeemed from their sins? Cf. 1Co 7:23, Gal 4:8-10, 5:1, Col 2:8,20-23. What insight does this give us into the rise of totalitarian governing systems like Socialism and Islam, and even many religious sects? In what sort of environment do they thrive, upon whom do they prey, and against whom are they able to prevail? How does this help us to better understand the curse of the law in Deut 28:43 that as people disobey God’s commands, then “the alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you shall go down lower and lower”? How does it also help us to understand that the reason “the American experiment” was uniquely successful in the history of the world was because America was founded on Christian principles of personal righteousness? What concern should this cause us in regard to the liberty and freedom American’s cherish as we move away from those principles as a nation?
In what way do even the commandments of the righteous and holy law of God represent a bondage that results from man’s sin? See Gal 3:10,13, 4:1-5 and think again: where there is no sin, is there any need for a law? See Gal 5:18,22-23. In times past America was governed by more righteous laws and general principles; as this nation has drifted farther and farther away from the Christian principles upon which it was founded, in what way has it come more and more under the bondage of onerous rules and regulations? Why have such rules and regulations become necessary?
What do all these things help us to understand is the ultimate source of all mankind’s bondage, and our only hope for true deliverance? See Joh 8:34-36, Rom 7:14,24-25a and Tit 3:3-5. As we have seen, there are many forms of bondage, whether to drugs or alcohol and those who push them, to food or drink or sex and the industries that push them, or to the healthcare industry, or to creditors, or to oppressive governments, or to the traditions of men, or even to the “elemental things” (Gal 4:3) of God’s “law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph 2:15). Regardless then of whatever bondage people may be in, is it possible for them to ever find real deliverance as long as they are also slaves to the lusts of their flesh and other passions? Can a person ever be truly free unless he is first set free from sin? Unless one is first set free from sin, will he not just trade one form of bondage for another? What appreciation ought such an understanding to give us for the scope of the deliverance provided to mankind through Jesus Christ? What does such an understanding teach us about the notion that one can be “saved” and yet continue in his sins? Cf. Rom 6:15-18.
Consider again the context: Jesus is describing the greatest in His kingdom. Unlike the rulers of the Gentiles who lord and exercise authority over them, the foremost and most free in His kingdom are paradoxically servants, and indeed slaves to others. In this context He offers Himself as an example, who did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many that they might be delivered from all the bondage of sin (cf. Joh 10:18). So then, as followers of the example of Christ who have ourselves been bought with a price and redeemed from our bondage, what does this teach us about the foremost way in which we are to serve others? Is the ultimate, real life-changing message of the gospel that Jesus died for men’s sins so that they could continue to serve sin without penalty? Or is it that Christ died to deliver mankind from all the bondages of sin, and as His servants, we too are to serve others by laying down our lives that people might truly be free from all such bondage? Is such deliverance typically accomplished by a simple four-part gospel presentation? What time, what effort, and what laying down of our lives, are really necessary for such genuine deliverance?