“Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. ’Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.’” John 8:24, 34

Mankind is a fickle lot, full of contradictions. A sign of manliness is self-sufficiency, and yet many men are apt to raise a fellow mortal, who seems more capable than they, to super-human status. There are forces in this world that run counter to our self-sufficiency and will “pile-drive” a man’s sense of self-reliance. In the face of disaster men will often sell their souls “for a mess of pottage.”

I have often pondered the reality that most benighted cultures have had a god, or pantheon of gods, which they worshipped precisely because they found they could not control the weather for a productive harvest, gain control over diseases, or overcome a determined enemy by themselves. Their religious superstitions often led to elevating some in their midst to the status of a god, like the status accorded to the pharaohs of Egypt.

In our day, as people are turning from a Judeo-Christian perspective, there is a “God-sized” void gaping in human hearts. It is quite natural for children to idolize heroes as they see them. It is the task of parents to place before their children authentic heroes with some worthy attribute or accomplishment to emulate. But youth also tend to follow the successful, charismatic “pretty people.” Just look at the student movements in colleges and universities throughout the ages. There were always “saviors” with a ready audience to follow them.

The problem is that very few of the “leaders” of youth have been worthy of emulation precisely because they did not emphasize the characteristics of self-sufficiency in submission to the God of the Scriptures. The supposed “saviors” began believing in themselves and their own superiority. Their “celebrity” tends to blind their followers and themselves. How appropriate that the Bible describes man as sheep!

For the average, mature man, it is a rough battle the first time that something opposes him and he has to admit he needs a savior. It may be in the form of a health diagnosis, a financial reverse, the loss of a job, or the failure of a marriage, but into every man’s life will come the time when he must own his helplessness and search out a savior.

By this point in his life, hopefully, he will have learned an important but bitter lesson of youth. When you follow the wrong savior you are led down the primrose path to soul-poverty instead of following the rocky road of righteousness. Not all men learn to be careful in choosing saviors. A case in point is the fact that the Bible declares that there will come a day, at the end of this age, when mankind will be apt to follow the Anti-god and the Antichrist. They will be worse than Hitler, Stalin, and Mao combined and yet men will follow them to destruction. Being unsaved they will not have the capacity to choose wisely but will be duped into placing their faith in these two individuals. They will blindly follow in the evil footsteps of these leaders in their rebellion against the God of heaven.

There will be nothing but destruction that will fall on their followers. 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff reveals what that day of wrath will look like: “The Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe….” It will be a terrible thing to be on the wrong side and following the wrong savior.

The Lord Jesus explained in John 8 how mankind is so easily enamored with evil men. In verse 34 He states, “whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” It is only a few verses later that he explains that this slavery is not just of habit and volition, it is slavery of nature. In verse 44 He says, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” Some of the most notorious, self-promoted “saviors” among men have honed their ability to lie into an art.

As our Lord explained in John 10, sheep follow the voice of their shepherd. They always will. It is familiar to them, it is in their nature to follow, and it becomes imprinted deeply within them. Such is the nature of sin’s slavery that it harbors a thirst for the siren call of evil.

How gracious is the true Shepherd, the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, that He gave us the Gospel. He declares that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). No man comes to the Father in heaven but through Him! He declares, “For if you do not believe that I Am He, you will die in your sins!” His words are plain enough, you need the One and Only Savior! Trust and obey.