Enslaved to Sin? (Romans 6:15-23)

Enslaved to sin
Photo by Мария Кашина on

As I read Romans, Chapter 6, I can’t help but think about slavery and our American history. Abraham Lincoln, in the Emancipation Proclamation, granted freedom to approximately 3 to 4 million slaves.

Why such a disparity between the numbers? They counted the slaves as property and not people. So it gives merit to what Abraham Lincoln said in the Proclamation: “All persons held as slaves are and henceforth shall be free.

We amended the American Constitution In 1865 to ensure their liberty. The 13th Amendment reads: “Neither slavery or involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or place subject to their jurisdiction.”

But things are not that simple. The Constitution had to be amended again for equal protection of the laws. The 14th amendment reads: “No states shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.

Nearly 100 years later, it was necessary to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because of racial strife. Notice how each document marks the long struggle to protect African Americans.

The New Covenant Never Needs Amending

According to what we’ve read here in Romans 6, we’ve discovered every man, woman and child are slaves – enslaved to sin.

Christ came to change all that.

The New Testament grants us liberty and it is written in blood! It requires no amendment. One act of lovingkindness on the cross gives liberty in Christ to live the with-God life.

Imagine what it was like for one slave woman in the 1860s:

One day she was part of the breeding stock, and the next day she could cleave to her husband. One day, she watched as they snatched her small children from her arms. Now she was free to find them.

Before the Emancipation Proclamation, she was in slavery’s death grip!

What Christ did was His Emancipation Proclamation for all.

If we take God’s proclamation to heart, we are free from sin—free indeed!

Everything was not perfectly “fixed” by the Emancipation Proclamation. The slave woman struggled for her freedom. People took advantage of her and fooled her into believing it wasn’t true. She learned the hard way that there’s more to freedom than unshackled chains.

There is more to Christianity than freedom from unshackled chains.

Slaves to Sin

As slaves to sin, we lived in the feverish atmosphere of toil and pain. We were ruled by our evil passions, our feet on the path to hell and Satan our companion.

The wages of sin is death. Such was our slavery to hopelessness, helplessness, and sorrow. There was no way of escape—no way to run away from it.


Christ paid the price for our freedom and deliverance from the power of sin. As servants of God, we have perfect freedom, a joyful existence, and our feet secure in God’s perfect will.

Remember, the New Covenant never needs amending!

We know, Father God understands our vulnerability and remembers how He formed us from dust. Our days are numbered. We need Him and must move from slaves to sin to slaves to righteousness.

Slaves to Righteousness Begins with Reconciliation

… God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:19

But thank God then, although you used to be slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over and having been set free from sin; you became enslaved to righteousness. I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.

Romans 6:17-19

The Beauty of Sanctification and Reconciliation

Many people will have their own definition of sanctification, but it is simply God setting us apart, declaring us His own, and progressively bringing us from babes to mature Christians.

Sanctification protects us and guards our hearts. It does not leave us masterless and vulnerable. We are informed, transformed, and conformed to God’s Word. We bow reverently and humbly to our new and righteous Master. Sanctification draws us closer to Him, making us vessels of honor, not dishonor.

Praise God for sanctification.

But now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the outcome is eternal life! For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Romans 6:22-23

Think about it for one moment: how powerful this Scripture verse is. I hold these words close to my heart and find rest for my soul.

This with-God life is valuable. I can barely contain my gratitude. Reconciliation and sanctification are more than words in Sacred Scripture.

Reconciliation ushers us freely into His presence, and sanctification keeps us free to stay there. One changes our relationship and the other changes our heart. One is instant and the other progressive. Both result is a sustained and consistent with-God life.

Enslaved to sin?

When we were enslaved by sin, we had nothing to do with Christ!

The one who lives in obedience to Christ seeks a sustainable relationship—in right standing with Him. He sets us apart for His good purposes. Our lives changed by the work of sanctification. Now, we are enslaved to righteousness and servant of the Most High God.

Our words, our ways, and our will are yielded. Let sanctification have its way and we can freely live the with-God life.

Liberty Gives us Freedom to Know God

There is more that this to the God’s hand of reconciliation and sanctification. It is a privilege to honestly “know God.” There are four analogies in Sacred Scripture showing us how we may know Him intimately: Like a son knows his Father, a wife knows her husband, a servant knows his master, and a sheep knows the shepherd.

A son knows his father by relation, a wife knows her husband in intimacy, a servant knows his master reverently, and the sheep know the shepherd by his caring hand. Can you see how all of them look up to the one they know, and the One they know takes responsibility for their welfare?

Servants of righteousness know God and know Him by name because they trust Him.

Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 9:10

God gave us the liberty to know Him!

In Conclusion

Our liberty in Him gives us everything we need to live with Him daily under the shadow of His presence.

Once we were slaves to a wicked taskmaster—slaves to sin. Today we are slaves to the Master, and He loves us with an everlasting love.

“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.”

Thomas Jefferson


  • What does it mean to you, personally, to be enslaved to sin?
  • What does it mean to you, personally, to live this with-God life?
  • In your journal, write down what it means to know God intimately.

On a personal note, my hope and prayer is that the reading plan, and these articles, encouraged you to take up the Sword of the Spirit and join me in this “with-God” life.

May the grace and peace of God, our Father, be yours in Christ Jesus!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Christine Malkemes, Founder of Words Whispered. Used with permission.

Related Blogs