In a recent Sunday teaching, Pastor Drew Shofner* pointed out how “sin is slavery.” I remembered his comment and decided to research the topic.

In Holy Scripture, sin is likened to a chain, a yoke, a prison and a heavy burden. These images portray sin not as a mere mistake or a trivial error, but as a dominating force that enslaves the heart and binds the soul.

How can we be “slaves to sin?”

Let’s explore this question with the Bible and guidance of the Holy Spirit.


The apostle Paul wrote, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) The word “dominion” here means power, authority or rule. Sin seeks to rule over us, to control us and to dictate our actions. It tempts us with false promises of pleasure, power or gain, but in the end, it leads us to destruction. It blinds our eyes to the truth, deafens our ears to the voice of God and hardens our hearts to His love.

Sin is like a cruel master who enslaves and humiliates us, who robs us of our dignity and freedom, who leads us to despair and death.


The apostle Paul also wrote, “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) The word “evil” means harm, injury or wickedness. We all have the capacity to do good, but we also have the inclination to do evil.

Sin enslaves us when we yield to our fleshly desires, when we ignore our conscience and when we pursue our own selfish interests.


Jesus himself said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34) The word “practices” implies a habitual, intentional and persistent pattern of behavior.

Sin is not just:

  • an occasional slip or stumble, but a deliberate choice to rebel against God and His commandments.
  • a harmless indulgence or a personal preference, but a moral offense against the holy and righteous God.
  • a private matter or a hidden secret, but a public testimony of our allegiance and our character.

Sin enslaves us when we give in to its allurements, when we refuse to repent and turn to God and when we reject his forgiveness and his grace.


The apostle Peter wrote, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19) The word “corruption” means decay, rot or destruction. Sin promises us:

  • freedom, but it delivers us to decay, rot and destruction.
  • pleasure, but it delivers us pain.
  • satisfaction, but it delivers us hunger.
  • power, but it delivers us weakness.
  • life, but it delivers us death.

Sin enslaves us when we believe its lies, when we follow its path and when we become its victims.


The apostle John wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) The word “sin” means missing the mark, falling short or failing to meet the standard. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We all have:

  • missed the mark.
  • fallen short.
  • failed to meet the standard of God’s holiness and righteousness.

Sin enslaves us when we deny its existence, when we justify our actions and when we refuse to confess and forsake our sins.


  • The apostle James wrote, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15) The word “desire” means craving, longing, or passion. We all have desires, but not all desires are good. Some desires are sinful and destructive and they can lead us down the path of slavery and death. Sin enslaves us when we:
  • follow our desires without regard for God’s will.
  • gratify our passions without self-control.
  • pursue our own pleasure at the expense of others.


Sin is like a seducer who whispers sweet lies into our ears, who inflames our hearts with passion and who leads us to destruction. It promises us:

  • the world, but it delivers us nothing.
  • happiness, but it delivers us misery.
  • freedom, but it delivers us slavery.

We can be slaves to sin when we listen to its voice, when we yield to its power, and when we refuse to submit to God’s will.


Through Christ, we can all be free.


Would you like to be free from the slavery of sin? Text the words, “looking for freedom” to 410-936-4252.

*Pastor Drew Shofner is the Lead Pastor at The Church at Severn Run in Severn, Maryland