In today’s passage, Jesus says “everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” How does sin enslave us? Well, to be enslaved is to be under the control or ownership of another, forced to obey another’s command. Specifically, slavery is when something other than the Lord God becomes our lord. In the Lord Jesus, there is freedom. Without Him, there is nothing but chains that continually constrict themselves around our hands, feet, and neck like a reticulated python.
When we judge things better than God, when our passions rule over us, we are enslaved. In this case, we are not finally masters of our own actions. Instead, we are subject to that which is ultimately is against our true happiness. True happiness is beatitude, it is to enjoy the presence and fellowship of God. Beatitude is to be perfectly as we were intended by the Creator. It is for our will to rest in God, not able in principle to want anything else, as the infinite fills the finite. Our cups overflow, as it were.
As rational creatures, we naturally desire what is good. If we judge things to be good that are not ultimately good for us, then our will moves to act accordingly. We become habituated to lesser goods. As these lesser goods more frequently substitute for higher goods, we set ourselves in a direction that detracts from our perfection and beatitude. This is the broad path to perdition.
By judging things better than God, I begin to want those things more than I want God. Of course, finite goods and the like are not enough to satiate my will. I must constantly seek more and more of these lesser goods. The slope steepens. When this happens, I do not look up, but only within myself and within the things of the world for happiness. This is slavery. What becomes my master is not God. It is something else. Perhaps notoriety, money, power, control. Eventually, I am not free to choose what is good for me. My inordinate desires and passions move me to act continually against true happiness.
True freedom is not being able to do whatever you want. It is choosing what is good and perfective. Freedom is to be without constraint in the actualization of potential. Such freedom is only found in Christ. As He says “…you will know the truth, and the truth with set you free.”