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THEOLOGY > Sin > The Character of Sin > Slaves to Sin 


Adam’s rebellion changed man with reference to sin: before his rebellion, Adam was able not to sin (posse non peccare); after his rebellion Adam was not able not to sin (non posse non peccare). In other words, since the Fall man has been a slave to sin. And the slavery is harsh and damning.

Paul said of the believers at Rome that they were “once slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:17), a fact that is true of every individual subsequent to Adam (see: Adam’s Rebellion, By One Man, and The Principle of Identification). Later in Romans Paul speaks of this condition as “this body of death”; he writes: “I know that nothing good dwells in my, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out . . . Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:18, 24). Paul’s statements coincide with the words of Jesus: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (Jo. 8:34). The principle of sin rules in the heart until there is a new creation. What a vicious condition plagues man:

To be born is to be born a slave to sin, evident from the earliest actions;

The present enslavement of the person to evil is revealed by the sins committed;

To continue to commit sin is for the sinner increase his enslavement to evil.

Slavery is evident from the beginning of life: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies” (Ps. 58:3). And one sin leads to another, with sin becoming a habit, a way of life; it becomes an addiction, an entrapment. What many call personal freedom is really an enslavement to sin: “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him” (Prov. 5:22).

To be the slave of sin is to live for self; it is to be possessed by abject selfishness. With this slavery is the delusion that people, places, and things contain the secret of living and will transform living into a thrilling adventure. Self-fulfillment is the goal, but every avenue that is travelled proves to be a fantasy route, really a lying route, for it does not lead to the place promised. All the paths of sin are dead-end streets.

To be outside of Christ is to be a slave of personal passions, seeking that which will satisfy a yearning, a yearning that cannot be satisfied by anything of this world, simply because the world cannot bring lasting satisfaction. The answer is not below, rather, the answer to contentment is from above.

Instead of asserting a true freedom of choice that does not exist (see: Loss of Freedom), the sinner should grieve that he can do nothing to please God, that he can do nothing but sin against his Creator. Instead of accusing God of being unfair in the matter of a fictional freewill, one should be exercised over his inability to come to God. This is to affirm that man should not complain about his lack of ability to choose between options, but should be deeply sorrowful that he has no ability to do what is right and therefore stands condemned before God.

Man’s passion should not be a supposed philosophical freedom that chooses between conflicting choices, but the passion should be a supernatural spiritual freedom that enables him to choose Christ and follow Christ. The sinner needs to be “free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2) and thus free from the condemnation and wrath of God (Jo. 3:16, 36). Christ must become the Master.

The believer, formerly a slave to sin, becomes a slave to Christ, and, in the servitude to Christ, true freedom is found. Only in submission to the Lord is freedom realized and understood, for freedom is a life free from guilt and the fear of death—it is the ability to appear before God and not be condemned.

In the believer’s experience is liberty of living that previously was unknown, in fact, it could not be known. Freed from the slavery of sin the believer is free to live for the Savior.   "Love God and do what you want!" was the terminology used by Augustine.

Autonomous freedom is the imagined concept of humanistic man, who is also depraved man. Only in Christ and His Truth is satisfying freedom. True freedom is the constant living in the daily grace of God that enables one to forsake self and to seek only His glory. To be a servant of Christ is to be a servant of man; it is a willingness to wash feet.

Misery and the welfare of other men all at once become important for him. He sympathizes with them, rejoices with them, as though he were one with them. He would be ready to give all things, even his life for the sake of others. That is just the human element which now appears when the inhuman, the sinful has disappeared. He has become a true servant of man -- as Jesus was a servant of man. This freedom, the most glorious thing there is, begins at home. It grows the more we grow into communion with God: it subsides the more we separate ourselves from God. It is the fruit of faith alone. For faith is simply belonging wholly and completely to God. God desires to make us such glad free men through the Gospel (Brunner, Our Faith, Ch. 24).

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