Slavery, now abolished in most parts of the world is a heinous injustice that is difficult to wrap ones mind around. Yet this is the concept that the apostle Paul chooses to convey the effects of bondage to sin.
See slavery in the first century was a normal occurrence, just as much as grocery shopping in your favourite retail store is today. So prevalent was it that Paul saw it as an easily accessible analogy to describe the bondage that many struggle with.
Here is the text so famously described in Romans Chapter 7:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Can you hear the anguish in Paul? He is tired of being in the bondage of slavery to sin. Unable to do what he wants, just as a literal slave is oppressively bound by the master’s whims, Paul laments that he has no control over what his flesh does.
Is this your situation? Do you find that you are in some kind of bondage or the other? Are you addicted to a substance, immersed in sin or do you find yourself acting out in a self destructive manner? Are you worn out by the implications of your sin? Relationships shattered, low self worth, broken dreams, and an enduring sense of hopelessness. Like Paul you are wondering how can you be free from the chokehold of sin. Well, read on for he gives us the answer.
In verse 25, Jesus Christ our Lord is the answer to the sin slavery issue. Further, he comments that in Christ Jesus we are no longer under bondage to sin (Romans 8). Paul says we who have found Christ are free from sin. This freedom from sin is not some metaphorical ideal. Its real! In Christ you are tangibly free just as a person can be physically freed from slavery and experience the actual effect of going wherever they want, whenever they want, and doing what they please without being impeded by the prison guard. Thus as real is your freedom if you are in Christ. You don’t have to live in bondage to sin anymore. Sure there may be so the occasional lapse, causing one to sin, but this is not the bondage to Paul is talking about. He speaks of the binding addictive hold on a person that causes them to continue incessantly in sin. This is what Paul says we are free from. Are you in Christ? Then listen to me sins stronghold on you is completely gone. You are free at last! Though it’s hard to believe, it’s the gospel truth. I once heard of a prisoner of war who had been jailed for many, many years. One fateful day his oppressors were vanquished and forced to release him. The shackles were taken off and the doors were open, yet this prisoner did not budge. He thought it was some psychological maneuver his cruel captors were enacting as they so often had. Though he was finally free, for many moments his freedom didn’t dawn on him. He was still a prisoner, maybe not physically but in his on mind.
Here lies the problem. Many of us still remain prisoners in our mind to sin, thinking that the Christian life is a future only reality, while denying the tangible power of God to physically deliver from sin, today. Young man you don’t have to be addicted to lust. Dear lady, you can trust God with your fears and insecurities instead of being in bondage to unhealthy relationships. Perhaps you are married and you find yourself resulting to bitterness and resentment due to the neglect of your spouse, listen to me, in Christ you are free from that sort of response. You are free at last.
According to Paul, we need to get up and walk out of that cell, and the way to do that is practicing the freedom that we have in Christ.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master (verses 11-14).
Paul tells us to remember we are dead to sin (verse 11), but instead alive to God. Thus no longer do we need to give our members (such as your mind, will, intellect and body) to sin, but now we have a new master, Christ. It is Him we give our devotion to, regularly, daily, moment by moment. When we intentionally choose to love, or serve, or turn the other cheek instead of doing what would have naturally occurred to us in our old sinful state, that is practicing righteousness. You have heard that practice makes perfect right? Though we will never be perfect in this world, yet, the more we practice righteousness, fully convinced that Christ has purchased our freedom from the chains of sin, we will have lasting freedom from sin.
– Pastor Olu Jegede