I received a question regarding the possibility of a
Christian being enslaved to sin. I thought I would briefly address it here for others
who wonder this too.
The Christian has been given victory over the inability not to sin.
Prior to the Fall, man was able not to
sin. He did not know sin and there was no sin in the world. He was given the
option to obey or disobey as is evident from God's command to Adam to not eat
of the tree in the center of the garden (Gen 2). God did not make it impossible
for Adam to sin; He gave him the command not to and left it up to him to obey.
God, in His omniscience knew what Adam would choose when Eve
tempted him to eat, and He knew the answers to the questions of accountability
and culpability He asked Adam as he and Eve hid in the bushes (Gen 3).
When Adam ate the fruit and disobeyed God sin entered the
world and Adam changed. He changed from a person who was able not to sin to a
person who was not able not to sin. In other words, sinning
became the normal state of being for the human race.
Therefore, just as
through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death
spread to all men, because all sinned--
When a person is regenerated (born again) they are once
again able not to sin. As Christians, we
have the choice to obey or disobey. Romans 6 tells us that we have been
set free from the dominion or the power that sin formerly had over us when we
were helpless (Rom. 5:6) and "free from the control of righteousness"
(Rom. 6:20). We now have been set free from that control and "have
become slaves to righteousness" (Rom. 6:18).
We are warned in Scripture not to enslave ourselves to the
law (see Galatians) that cannot save, or to offer our bodies or minds/hearts as
instruments of unrighteousness.
Don’t you know that
when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to
the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or
to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that,
though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of
teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and
have become slaves to righteousness...Just as you used to offer the parts of
your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now
offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were
slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What
benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those
things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and
have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the
result is eternal life
. Romans 6:16-18, 19-22
Scripture makes it clear to us that as Believers we can
still be enslaved to a sin, but it is by choice. I have seen Christians enslave
themselves to drugs and alcohol, people pleasing, sex, pornography, spending
money, gambling, and many other things.
Remember that what we serve we worship. What we worship we
often wrongly believe we control. What most people usually understand over time
is that what they once controlled begins to control them. They
mistakenly think that they can walk away from it, but soon discover that their
love or lust for it has them enslaved.
We also sin in ways that do not necessarily enslave us. We
justify things like using a coupon on the wrong product, telling a “white lie,”
or “sharing” someone else’s business in the form of a prayer request. These things don’t equate the kind of slavery
in question but do remind us that we are in as much need of the cross as the
worst mass-murder is. These are the
things of Romans 7, the things of daily life that I am personally frustrated
Sin can have dominion or ownership of a person when the
heart wrongly makes something other than God an object of worship or makes it a
god who they believe will meet their perceived need.
Breaking this bond of slavery is often painful physically,
emotionally, and spiritually. Physically through painful withdrawal from drugs
or alcohol, food or other substance, emotionally through the ruination of
relationships and the stress and strain that comes from such things, and
spiritually as the person sees their sin from God's perspective and grieves
their sin of idolatry.
I urge the reader to make a careful examination of the book
of Romans. No other source will explain the problems of life better than the
Bible will. It is our authority and final word on the topic of sin.
If you have a question about something posted here, you can
comment through the blog or via our FB page. Thanks for asking!