Dominance by Sin is Slavery

We have covered three underpinnings of Biblical freedom as Jesus taught it.

I. Freedom is not total autonomy. “…hold to my teaching…” John 8:31

II. Freedom requires virtue as its guiding principle. “You shall know the truth…” John 8:32

III. Freedom requires obedience to Divine authority structures.

Now we shift to a fourth underpinning—

IV. Freedom is liberation from sin. 

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. — John 8:34, 36

Jesus is addressing Jews who professed to believe his message. He engages in a little “shock treatment” of his audience. He seeks to determine who really believes in him and who has a false faith. One word got them very angry, the Greek word eleutheróō = “to make free” or “to set at liberty.” 

This really got their hackles up. They protested that they were Abraham’s children and had never been the slaves of anyone. (I think they forgot the Roman soldiers all around them everyday enforcing Roman rule. Pictured below.) Jesus then pointedly declares what slavery he is referring to—slavery to sin. 


We might raise such a similar objection today if someone were to suggest people are slaves in the modern world. We are freeborn citizens of the United States! Yet “Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, surpassing deaths from car crashes, guns, and other diseases” (see Dupont below). Dupont’s article is titled,”Chemical Slavery.” 

Billy Graham suggested that people’s sinful lifestyles often spread themselves out in judgment before them (see Graham below). It is not necessary for God to unleash specific judgments every time someone sins (e.g. lightning bolts to strike them).

Certainly God can and does reach down and save persons from themselves when they call upon him for grace and mercy. II Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Often, the sin itself carries with it its own punishment. Opioids, crystal meth, etc. certainly do! 

Midas turns daughter into gold

Compare King Midas, with the golden touch, touching his daughter and she becoming gold.

If you doubt addicts are slaves, click on this link to a story. Story of Effects of drug addiction

Notice the reference in this story to addiction and its root cause. 

“I could buy one [fentanyl pill] and I’d crush [it] up and snort [it]. Put [it] into four lines, and two lines would last me a full day. That’s how strong it was,” she says. “And if I did a whole pill, I’d OD.”

At the mention of overdose, Kati suddenly grows more serious.

“Every time I do dope, I know I’m taking a risk. I know I might die. But it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve OD’d, I still use the next day because the withdrawals are so bad.” 

Drugs and money

I think no one doubts that the person who is addicted to fentanyl is a slave and is in need of intervention to be saved from its consequences. Rehab works for some. Often it works over and over again since drug addicts often never get totally free, only a reprieve from drugs. Thus, only Jesus can save a person from addiction. And, there are so many addictions in our world today, e.g. pornography, gambling, hoarding, etc.

Matthew 11:28-30 gives hope to the hopeless—

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden (carry heavy burdens), and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

St. Augustine got to the root of all our problems when he said, “You made us for Yourself and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You!” (see Augustine’s Confession below). 


Augustine’s Confessions. (1887 trans.). Accessed 9 November 2018 from

Dupont, R. L. (n.d.) “Chemical Slavery:Understanding Addiction and Stopping the Drug Epidemic.” Accessed 8 November 2018 from 575830e0b09f958d96b6e4df/t/5bcdc3de15fcc0be3c647a09/1540211678564/Chemical_Slavery_Press_Release.pdf

Fisher’s Catechism. (1765). Accessed 7 November 2018 from

Graham, W. F. (1985). Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Waco, TX Word Press. 

Guinness, Os. (1992). No God but God. Chicago, IL Moody Press

ICC Commentary on John. (Accessed 8 November 2018 from commentaries/icc/john/8.htm

Sproul, R. C. (2017). Accessed 7 November 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Freedom and Obedience to Government

“You are…my disciples…” John 8:32

Obedience to the civil law is a must for the Disciple of Christ.

1 John 3:4 defines sin as “lawlessness.” Anarchy even in civil protest is sin.  (See Acts 5 below for the qualification of obedience.) 

Note the aim of the French Revolution—

Leaders in the American Revolution were fighting for independence against imperial rule, but the leaders of the French Revolution had a very different enemy. They weren’t just fighting against their own king. They were fighting against all the current systems—including religion and traditional morals.

The leaders of the French Revolution turned to sweeping laws in chasing their obsession with liberation—and with each new law, they branded new swathes of society as enemies of the “revolution.” Likewise, under communism the doctrine of “the personal is political” became a reason for creating new laws, and similarly, each new law identified a new set of “enemies.” (see Epoch Times below)


An engraving shows the beheading of Louis XVI during the French Revolution. (Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Distrust of Government

Older people, when I was young, had come through the Great Depression and had fought two World Wars. They trusted the government.

My generation witnessed two “military interventions” that were in reality undeclared wars—Korea and Vietnam. I saw buddies go to Nam and come back damaged. Some did not come back at all. We tended not to trust the government.

I was drafted late in the Vietnam War. My lottery number was 11, but I (along with 170+ other young men sent to Ft. Jackson that day from Greenville, SC) was sent back home. We scratched our heads in disbelief. We didn’t know it at the time, but secret negotiations were under way that would eventually end the war.

In the end, the point for me was that I was citizen of this great country and if Uncle Sam wanted me to serve, I had no reason not to. I believed in obedience to government even when I didn’t like it. I went to Ft. Jackson that day as an obedient citizen.

God established human government


Lady justice pictured as blindfolded, impartial.

Romans 13:1-7 sets forth God’s establishing of human government and authority, and why it was established. 

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Government has the God-assigned responsibility to punish those who do evil.Note that this passage was repugnant to Rome. It made government the servant of God. Government is always “under God.”

Politics is important; political decisions have consequences; and passionately arguing for your preferred political outcomes is nothing to be ashamed of.

A politicized life is a different beast, however. It treats politics as a zero-sum game or a form of total warfare in which the other side must be obliterated. It alters every aspect of your being: where you shop; what you watch on TV; what sort of music you listen to; who you associate with. If you’re not with the politicized being, you’re against him — and if you’re against him, he is well within his rights to ruin you personally and economically. You, the political other, are a leper to be shunned. (see Politicized Life below) 

Such politicization destroys freedom. Through various social legislation, the West has all but destroyed the family, which is the basic building block of society. We ought to realize what government is supposed to do and hold it within the boundaries set by God. We can vote.


Jesus upheld government authority in his ministry

Matthew 22:15-21 is the classic text where Jesus commands obedience to authority. However, he qualifies it. 

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.
17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.” 

So they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and [render] to God the things that are God’s.” 

Jesus escapes the trap, and they are told to pay their taxes. 

The Apostles refuse to obey officials in certain cases 

Acts 5:26-29 is where the Bible draws the line on wrongful government intrusion into our lives. 

27 …And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in [Jesus’] name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” 

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men!” 

Verse 29 make it clear we obey higher authority, God’s, when a lesser authority commands something against God’s law and teaching. 


Babylon becomes the symbol of government against religion
(see Revelation 13 and 17-18)

We have to suffer the consequences for not obeying civil government, though. We leave the consequences to God in such cases. 

The material point is that Christians always obey their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. We are not lawless and rebellious. Government is another authority structure that is a part of the necessary underpinnings f our freedom.


Epoch Times. (2018). Accessed 2 November 2018 from

Politicized Life. (2013). Accessed 2 November 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved


Children Learn about Biblical Authority in the Home

“You are…my disciples…” John 8:32

We are looking at the observance of Biblical authority structures as an important underpinning of biblical freedom. In an earlier post we saw Colossians 1:13-14 

13 He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (see NKJV below)


In these verses we are reminded that we are never out from under someone’s authority in this world. We are under the dominion of darkness until Jesus Christ buys us from that slavery and places us into his kingdom of His Beloved Son! 

The moral law of God is the ethical norm for life in the kingdom.

In the Ten Commandments we have the injunction: Exodus 20

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Ephesians 6 underscores this basic commandment—

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

family at devotions

Family prayers were part of our past.

Paul adds that this is the first commandment with a promise attached to it. The Reformation Study Bible adds this information about law—

The law of God has lost its power to condemn those who are in Christ (Col. 2:13, 14), and the observance of the ceremonial law is inappropriate following their fulfillment in Christ (2:15; Col. 2:16, 17). However the “weightier matters of the law” (Matt. 23:23) are revelations of God’s character, and establish permanent ethical principles. One of these is that children must honor their parents. (see RSB below)

The Reformation Study Bible points out the 5th Commandment is a part of the moral law of God that is underscored by Jesus and the Epistles in the New Testament. The moral law is not a part of the law that passed away with the nation of Israel.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches the full implication of the 5th Commandment—

Q 64: What is required in the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals. (See Shorter Catechism below)

The family is the basic building block of a society.

James Fisher expands on this question by adding—

Q. 1. “Who are meant by father and mother in the Fifth Commandment?”
A. “Not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.” (see Fisher below)

How are people superior or inferior in a modern nation? Doesn’t our Declaration of Independence state all are equal? Yes. But all are not equally talented or gifted by God.


Abraham Kuyper (pictured left) states this God-imposed inequality clearly—

Hence we cannot recognize any distinction among men, save such as has been imposed by God Himself, in that He gave one authority over the other, or enriched one with more talents than the other, in order that the man of more talents should serve the man with less, and in him serve his God. (see Kuyper below)

We cannot be anything we want to be, contrary to current educational psychology. God has distributed gifts and talents according to his good pleasure. I used to tell my students, “I might want to be a brain surgeon, but that is not possible for a man 60+ years old.” The limitations are God-imposed. 

This explains the far reaching implications of the family in society. Children learn order from observing it in their family. 

Why does God want us to honor our parents? The family is the basic building block or unit of society, [and] thus the stability of the community depends on the stability of the families that comprise it. A person’s response to government derives from the parent-child relationship. The lessons and principles learned from honoring, respecting, and obeying parents will result in a society stable enough to promote development of the whole person. (see Bible Tools below)

Where to go from here

Many may look back at their flawed birth family and think, “How could anything like that be a good building block?” Or, some may look at their own family now and see too many problems. 

I have dealt with all problems in the family in the course of 40+ years of ministry. (I had my own, too.) Divorce is a world of hurt for all involved. It leaves scars on spouses and children. Many I have talked with want to see God meet them with healing in their relationships. I say we cannot change the past, but we can begin afresh with the relationship we are in now.

You do not have to take it on Maury or Oprah to hash out past hurts. God hears and answers prayers! When he forgives, he separates our sins from us. Micah 7:19

He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

I like what Corrie ten Boom said about this verse.

“It was 1947 … I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I like to think that that’s where forgiven sins are thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever … Then God places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed!‘” (see Forgiveness below)

No fishing allowed

Some of us need to stop muckraking in our past sins. If God forgives, we can accept it and move on. We each need to work on the family God has given us now. That is the only hope of restoring this important building block of society and underpinning of our freedom. 


Bible Tools. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

Fisher, James. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

Forgiveness: No Fishing Allowed. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

Kuyper, Abraham. Stone Lectures on Calvinism accessed October 29, 2018 from

Lowell, James Russell. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

New King James Version. accessed October 29, 2018 from

Reformation Study Bible. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

Shorter Catechism. Accessed October 29, 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Biblical Authority Structures are from God!

We have covered two underpinnings of Biblical freedom as Jesus taught it.

I. Freedom Is Not Total Autonomy. “…hold to my teaching…” John 8:31

II. Freedom Requires Virtue as Its Guiding Principle. “You shall know the truth…” John 8:32


Giotto de Bondoni, “Marriage at Cana,” ca. 1267-1337

Now we shift to a third underpinning—

III. Freedom Requires Obedience to Divine Authority Structures.

“You are…my disciples…” John 8:32

The meaning of a disciple literally translates into “a learner” … it denotes “one who follows someone’s teaching” …. In biblical terms, a “disciple” is a believer who follows Christ’s teachings and pursues His example. (see Disciple below)

Jesus’s word touches on all of life. He affirms marriage and the family as a creation ordinance. He also enjoins our obedience to government as God’s agent of order. Disciples follow Jesus’s teachings. 

Before human government and before children, God established marriage. 

He laid the foundation for all other structures of society in the family. In post-modern philosophy, the aggregate individual is the basic building block of society. However, this flies in the face of what God teaches in the Old Testament.


Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Wenzel Peter, Vatican Museum

Genesis 2:24—

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The “one flesh” principle lies at the crux of the family. Old ties are broken as a man and a woman begin their lives together in holy matrimony.

“Shall leave his/her father and mother” is the first step. No longer is a man primarily a son. No longer is a woman primarily a daughter. The primary relationship is that of husband and wife. We are not free to make marriage a personal arrangement! It is a creation ordinance given by God in Eden.

Dr. R. C. Sproul observes on one occasion—

Some years ago, I attended an interesting wedding. I was especially struck by the creativity of the ceremony. The bride and the groom had brainstormed with the pastor in order to insert new and exciting elements into the service, and I enjoyed those elements. However, in the middle of the ceremony, they included portions of the traditional, classic wedding ceremony. When I began to hear the words from the traditional ceremony, my attention perked up and I was moved. I remember thinking, “There is no way to improve on this because the words are so beautiful and meaningful.” A great deal of thought and care had been put into those old, familiar words. (


Clergyman, pictured above, placing his stole around the clasped hands of a married couple to stress the bond is permanent.

Jesus reiterates the seriousness of marriage as God has created it in Matthew 19:4-6

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Shall…be joined to his wife” is the second step. There is no set marriage ceremony outlined in the Holy Scriptures. Yet, Jesus honored marriage with his first miracle at Cana of Galilee. 

The last principle related to marriage is “What God has joined together, let no one separate.” 

I have served in ministry for 40 plus years. I preached regularly long before that. I have often seen marriage partners separated from one another by parents, friends, and competing “potential partners.” Under any guise, the one who violates the “one-flesh” principle strives against God himself.

I always emphasize in a marriage ceremony that marriage is a covenant, not between a man and a woman and the state, but between a man and a woman and God. Anything that attacks the family as God has constituted it, destroys society along with it.We can’t change others, but we can still live by the Word of God in our own lives.


Disciple. Accessed November 2, 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved


Consciously Remembering the Lord is the Way Back


“…abide in my word.”  John 8:31

Remembering and Forgetting

Deuteronomy 8 has sobering words for nations and for individuals. God warned his ancient people —

11 Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when … your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God.

Our problem is just what Deuteronomy warns about — prosperity without God is perilous. 

The Hebrew word for “forget” is shaw-kach. (It isn’t significant that we remember the Hebrew word, but we must note its meaning in Hebrew, rather than in English.) In English “we forget” something when it “slips our mind,” as we put it. It is an accidental thing. In Hebrew, forgetting is a conscious act. A good translation would be “cease to care about.” (see “Reformation Study Bible” below) “When we cease to care about the Lord our God… .”

On the other hand, “remembering” in Hebrew is also a conscious act. The word is zakar — Zachariah means “Yahweh remembers!” Conscious remembering is the spiritual treatment for a return to God. 

Men have Forgotten God

In his still timely words (spoken about the Soviet Union at the time) upon receiving the Templeton Prize for progress in religion, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, puts his finger exactly on the problem facing us in the West today:

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: “Men have forgotten God.” The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century (See “Solzhenitsyn” below; emphasis mine).

Chaos, not freedom, comes in every sphere of life to the society which forgets God. We cannot act to roll back the clock. However, we can as individuals still live a Biblical lifestyle. We can purposefully remember God, as we navigate life. We won’t win any popularity contests, but we will magnify God before the eyes of the world.


The Act of Remembering and the Way Back

When I was a teenager I walked away from God for a while. I began to run with the wrong crowd from my church. (Yes, there are rebels in the church, too.) The drinking age was 18 then. I over-indulged in alcohol for the first time with them.

One Sunday, my pastor stopped me in the hall of the Sunday School building. He said words I’ll never forget.

“Rick, when you first came to this church, you paid attention to the sermon. You brought your Bible and took notes. Now you do neither. Just remember, Jesus didn’t leave you. You left him, and he is right where you left him. You can go back and walk with him again.”

He was encouraging me to remember my Lord Jesus and to forsake my forgetting of Him. I came back and found the grace of God to be plentiful toward prodigal children.

We can’t change society against its will, but we can nudge individuals in the right direction by reminding them what they have left behind and the grace-filled way back. Eventually, enough individuals remembering the Lord can change society! 


Solzhenitsyn, Alexandr. (1985). “The Templeton Address: Men Have Forgotten God.” Accessed 28 August 2018 from

Reformation Study Bible. (2018). Accessed 28 August 2018 from

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved