v 19. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.
If you go back to John 8:31-34 you find Jesus teaching just the same thing! So Peter had been listening and taking things in after all. For a nation struggling under Roman occupation and military rule, freedom meant only one thing – throwing out the Romans. There were some Zealots who thought that was a distinct possibility and there were periodic bouts of rebellion followed by rigorous oppression. It was a game at which the Romans were very skilful. Most people however realised that you couldn’t mess with the Roman army. So there were all sorts of sideways glances when Jesus said that the Son could make them free. It would not have surprised me if something of what Jesus said about freedom got back to a minor Roman official and the message went out to watch that man. However, nothing of the kind was raised at Jesus’ trial. For both Jesus and Peter, freedom was something quite different. It was freedom from the personal demons that can easily control us. These were the things that were liable to control a person; include things such as Greed, Malice, Sex, Money, Status … the list is potentially huge. They turned normal rational people into devious miscreants with boundless and obsessive energy in the pursuit of their personal desires – yes, they could become slaves to almost any personal goal. It doesn’t have to be crack cocaine, or super-cars, that fuel slavery. It can be as simple as Netflix, alcohol or even dark chocolate that gives the buzz we crave – and before we know it we become slaves to the desire. It is freedom from this driving desire that both Jesus and Peter have in mind.
Do you know what drives you? Has it become obsessive? Are you enslaved to it and thoroughly meshed into its pursuit? Jesus sets us free to be proper people, not enslaved by any habit but enjoying freedom to walk steadily and carefully through life with Him.