How to Stop Being a Slave to Sin
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19) Does this sound familiar in your life? I remember being there too! You see, many of us, even from very different backgrounds and worldviews, will agree that sin is our problem. However, where we disagree is in the “how” of dealing with it. Is the concept of, “Be as good as you can, and that’s good enough,” correct? Perhaps as long as, “My good is greater than my bad”? Then again, maybe if I ask God to forgive me each time I sin, I can avert the consequences of sin. Yet, perhaps, if I turn from all my sin, then God will accept me?! There are many concepts that are believed and taught in various circles. However, I trust that we all want to know the truth, even if it could mean departing from our preconceived ideas and teachings we’ve become familiar with. So let us think these things through together…
An Admission of a Condition
We must first of all understand our condition, if we are going to comprehend the type of remedy that is required. So then, it is written, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation…because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man…Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men…For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” (Romans 5:12, 16-19)
Sadly, by Adam’s one sin, “Many were made sinners.” Indeed, like begets like! If we seed the corn kernels of the parent plant, guess what? We get that kind of corn! So it is with mankind. We learn then, that people sin because they are sinners, and not that their sinning makes them sinners. You see, a dog barks because it is a dog, and not that the barking makes it a dog. Otherwise if a parrot learns to bark, it would become… well, a dog! So we conclude then, that we have an unwanted condition of being a sinner.
So…what if I try to act good, will that change me from a sinner to a saint? So…what if a child tries to act like a bird, does that change them into a bird with the capacity to fly? Hardly! So what makes us think that we can act like a Christian in order to become one then? We see then an insurmountable problem, in that, whether we try to do more good than bad, turn from our sin, ask forgiveness each time we sin, or whatever such concept we have, that it leaves us still a sinner.
Still further, then, will my attempt to obey the ten commandments, or follow Jesus, change me from a sinner to a saint? Can I slowly over time transform myself from being a sinner to a saint? Hmmmm, I wonder, if a camel spends enough time trying to act like a cat, will it become a cat? Clearly not! You see, we can spend a whole lifetime trying to act perfectly like Jesus, but that still won’t magically over time alter us into a saint! Things just don’t work in this way! We must come to the place where we make the admission, that, yes, I am a sinner!
One Must Be “Born Again”
We must understand then, that there is only one solution. We need to be “born again.” Now this may seem like an obscure concept that is very intangible. However, we do have a brilliant example in nature. We have caterpillars who go through “metamorphosis” and become butterflies! This is an absolute transformation! A complete alteration of abilities, appetites, and appearance! So it must be with us, but how?! Let us read, “Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) So what does this mean? Must I be baptized? No, for the waters of baptism speak of death. For, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death.” (Romans 6:4) We find rather that this speaks of the Word of God, more precisely, the gospel message contained therein. “As Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26)
What then of the Holy Spirit? It is the Holy Spirit who takes the gospel message and applies it to the sinner. Therefore, we find that it is the belief of the gospel message, that brings about the spiritual birth of a person. It is Jesus who went to the cross to pay our debt of sin that we could not pay. It was the unblemished, sinless, Lamb of God that received our outstanding debt – all of it, even that of the future, and paid the penalty for it all – death on a cross. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) When we trust Jesus as “my” Saviour, my whole debt is erased, and in turn I’m credited with the very righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself!
Made a New Creation!
When these things happen, a miracle of new creation transpires! For I am born again! Galatians 2:20 put it like this, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Ephesians 2:4 and 8-9, puts it in this way, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
So, no, there was nothing we could “do,” that would cause us to be “born again.” There was nothing we could “do,” that would change us from being a sinner to a saint. We could not change our behaviour to become something different. We could not grow our way into it. We could not educate ourselves into it. We could not join a church, or be baptized to change who we are. No, it is only God who can cleanse us and change us into saints by the miracle of being “born again.” It took Christ to go to the cross for you. Only by placing your trust in Him as the one who alone is able to be your Saviour, will you be saved.
So, how do we stop being slaves of sin? Place our trust in Jesus as our Saviour. It is He alone who is able to set us free. For it is written, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18) Yes, it is the gospel of what Jesus has done for us, that is to be believed for our liberation from sin’s dominion in our lives!
So, stop working for your salvation. Stop dragging around your heavy burden of sin. Stop being a slave to sin, and let God buy you by the blood of Christ out of the slave market of sin and transport you into the kingdom of the Son of His love even now! For Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [as their Saviour] will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) This is God’s promise for you!
Victor J Reimer
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*Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Photo credit: “Stop” by Richard