(NOTE: This is a continuation of the previous post)
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.'”
“Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?”
Both passages above speak of an enslavement that results from sin. Jesus states that the one who is committing (present, continuous tense) sin is a slave of sin. The implication is that there is a pattern one develops in reference to the use of moral capabilities. An important observation is that it is a wrong use of moral capabilities that forges this moral depravity; it is not the presence of moral (in contrast to opposed to physical) depravity that determines the course of action. Paul addresses this concept by indicating that such slavery is the outcome of presenting ourselves in obedience to a particular approach. He further states that this not only applies to becoming a slave of sin but also to becoming a slave righteousness. This is an important point since the way we apply this concept in reference to one, we must apply it in reference to the other.
“The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.'”
Observing the condition of the human race at this point in time, God states, “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” There are a couple of interesting points to glean from this statement. First, it identifies the root of evil action as abiding in the heart. In previous writing, I’ve labored to explain that the “heart” pertains to that which a human being is ultimately committed. Establishing this commitment is a moral process. One must develop a value structure (Mt.6:21, 13:44-46) and present themselves to it (Jn.8:34, Ro.6:16). Next, we see that this formation of moral commitment is not from birth but takes place “from his youth.” This is a huge issue. Though one’s environment does not cause one’s moral commitment and character, it is a major, influential factor. Young people, void of maturity, are likely to react in a less than healthy way to negative influences, especially if such influences are from parental authority. Living in a world (environment) that is largely violating God’s design for life does not encourage young people to develop hearts committed to benevolence, righteousness and godliness. Though each person is responsible for forming their own moral commitment and character, God’s observation in this passage serves to provide valuable insight. We are not born with this evil intent in our hearts and yet, the dominance of sin in the world makes the struggle for a young person to avoid being conformed to this world a serious battle.
There is a common phrase, age of accountability, that refers to a point in a person’s life when moral capabilities are operative, when a human being becomes morally sentient – when moral agency and, therefore, accountability is a reality. Moral character does not exist prior to this point. It is interesting that this concept was even applied to Jesus as we read in Isaiah 7:15-16.
“He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.”