Chapter 3 Freedom from the Bondage of Sin

Book FreedomI have yet to meet a person without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who is free from the bondage of sin. Frankly, I have met a number of Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who are still living in bondage to one or more sins. I, myself, have experienced bondage to sin, so I don’t envy anyone who is living in its’ grips.

While every person on the face of this earth struggles with sin in one way or another, there exists the characteristics of low impulse control and a pattern of repeating the same sin(s) over and over when a person is under the bondage of sin. Hence, to be in bondage to sin means that we find ourselves unable to control our impulses toward one or more particular sins and then after sinning, we find ourselves confessing and repenting – rinse and repeat – all the while knowing that we’ll likely do it again.

A person can be in bondage to all sorts of sins:  sex, pornography, eating, spending, swearing, arrogance, coveting, greed, alcohol, drugs and so forth.  It’s not the sin, per se, that is in question – it’s the bondage itself that I’m most concerned about in this chapter.  When you lack control over temptation, you’re in bondage.

Bondage to sin has obvious ,personal, negative consequences.  Bondage robs you of the freedom to be who God has intended you to be.  You’re unable to follow God’s call on your life because of your sin.  Your family and close relationships are negatively affected by your sin and you tend to rot from the inside out.

If you’re a business leader or owner, your sin will impact your business.  I continue to believe that a person’s personal dysfunction will be imprinted on the organization s/he leads.  Often, the results of their dysfunction are seen as business problems which need business solutions rather than understanding that if the leader can shore up his or her dysfunction, the entire organization will function more effectively and efficiently.  The greater the dysfunction of the leader, the more likely it is that the organization will waste cycles and energy compensating for the results of the leader’s dysfunction.

When it comes to running a business or leading an organization, if you are living in sin, your dysfunction and the negative effects of sin operating in your life will be imputed onto your business.  This is both predictable and unavoidable.

There are three core discussions we’ll engage in this chapter, as follows:

  • Ephesians 4.28 and the acknowledgment that a person can be steeped in bondage and emerge free from its’ chains
  • The role and effect of curses and blessings in our lives and, by extension, our businesses
  • How to become free from the bondage of any sin

Ephesians 4.28

Freedom from the bondage of sin is best illustrated in Ephesians 4.28:

“He who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”

This single verse illustrates the entire effect of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. You see, we all begin in bondage to sin because we were born into sin: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” says David in Psalm 51.5. Each of us is born into sin with a propensity toward sin.

So we start our lives in bondage to sin, and in Ephesians this bondage is illustrated with the assumptive phrase “he who has been stealing. . . .” Notice how the word stealing is past continuous, which implies that the person is committing this act over and over again – he can’t help himself. He steals. He views what others have as his own, so he goes and takes from others for the benefit of himself. He steals, and he can’t stop himself. This is what it means to be in bondage to sin: there’s a part of you that knows you shouldn’t do it, but you can’t stop yourself from committing the sin. In current day terminology, we call this an addiction.  In Biblical terminology, we call this bondage.

But Ephesians 4.28 continues by saying that this person must no longer steal and should change his behavior to doing something useful with his hands. This means that the person should stop committing his sin by replacing that action with a righteous action that produces something good. Overcoming addictions is usually more successful if the person has something fulfilling to replace his/her addiction. For example, we replace drinking with exercise or pornography with prayer or lying with truth telling. We don’t just stop a sin.  We replace it with a righteous act.

This is where so much wasted energy and time is consumed by the Enemy.  We tell the person in bondage to stop committing their sin.  We throw verses at them like “resist the Devil and he will flee from you”, thinking that resisting, in and of itself, is enough to free the person from bondage.  But experience tells us that this sets up the enslaved person for more bondage.  Why?  Because we don’t help them find something righteous with which to replace their sin.

When they don’t resist and they commit their sin for the umpteeth time, the Enemy comes back and accuses them of being weak and unfaithful.  He doesn’t remind them that they needed to replace their sin with righteous acts.  Nope.  He just tells them they are powerless to overcome their sin (which is true) and that there’s no way out (which is not true).  The Enemy uses their sin and defeat to convince them they will always be defeated, never able to overcome their sin.  You see, part of being in bondage is succumbing to the belief that there is no hope for freedom.

The Enemy tempts us to sin, then after we have sinned, he accuses us of sinning and being a worthless, no-good, weak so-and-so.  The Enemy is very good at emotional and spiritual abuse. And if he can convince us that our sin will always be with us – that we’ll always be defeated, then he’ll have successfully knocked off another saint from being effective for the Kingdom of God.  If he can’t keep you from going to heaven, he’ll sure try to keep you from being effective in furthering God’s agenda on this earth.

In short, it is the combination of being familiar with the sin, believing that there is no hope for change, feeling the depth of despair that results from the Enemies’ abuse and using our sin as a medication to feel good – even for a moment – that leads to being in bondage.

But the Holy Spirit does just the opposite and unlike the Enemy, He lives within us.  The Holy Spirit gently reminds us of what we can and should be doing differently.  For example, when you’re sitting in front of the computer and you’re tempted to look at pornographic images, the Holy Spirit is right there to remind you to turn off the computer and pray, or get away from the computer and read your Bible or even go for a walk.

Who you listen to – the Enemy or the Holy Spirit – is never outside of your control.  You always have a choice in who you listen to.  I believe that part of the reason people believe they have no choice is because they have never been taught to hear the voice of God – an important topic we’ll cover in a future chapter.

So, coming back to Ephesians 4.28, notice that the person’s righteous act grows into having “something to share with those in need.” This verse shows us that a person who has been in bondage to sin – in this case the sin of stealing – can be transformed into a person who gives. Giving is the opposite of stealing. It is an act of a person free from sin, whereas stealing is an act of a person in bondage to sin.


 

An Alcoholic is Transformed

One of the best illustrations I have ever heard of gaining freedom from the bondage of sin came from a person who worked in business and had a deep walk with the Lord. I can’t remember his name or I would acknowledge him here, but his illustration is apt for this verse.

Let’s assume that we are looking into the life of a recently married man who has a new baby girl. Let’s also assume that before this man met his wife and became married, he was quite the drinker.  He still enjoys drinking and has a difficult time controlling his urge to drink. He is, in essence, addicted to alcohol.

At this point, I’ll present two different endings to the same scenario. In the first scenario, this man drives from work to the bank after getting his paycheck. He cashes the check, and on his way home he decides to stop in at one of the bars where some of his buddies are and vows to have only a couple of beers. Four hours later he has drunk over 12 beers and somehow manages to drive all the way home without getting caught. He arrives home very late and drunk, putting what’s left of his paycheck on the table, staggering off to bed to sleep off his drunken stupor.  His wife is furious, hurt and scared.  Where are they going to get the money to pay the rent?

In the second scenario the man drives from work to the bank and cashes his check. On his way home, he successfully fights the urge to stop in at any of the bars. At some point during the drive, he grabs the steering wheel so hard that his knuckles turn white, but he knows that he cannot drink, or he will end up spending most of his paycheck at the bar, and he won’t have enough money for rent. So he makes it home, puts all the money on the table for his wife, and sits in front of the TV for the entire evening. Regardless of what is on TV, he only sees a big glass of beer that he wishes he could have.

In the first scenario the man succumbed to temptation and sinned. In the second scenario, the man was victorious over his sin because he did not go to the bar and get drunk. However, in neither scenario is the man free from his bondage. In both cases he is fighting an internal battle against the sin of drunkenness. I believe that Christ’s regeneration of our lives can bring us to freedom from sin, not just white-knuckle, victorious living.


When I talk about freedom from the bondage of sin, I’m referring to a man who can drive from home from work and feel very little, if any, temptation to stop in at a bar and get drunk. I’m talking about a man who can sit in a hotel room by himself at night and feel very little, if any, temptation to rent pornography in the hotel room or hook up with a local gal for a one-night sex affiar. I’m talking about a man (or woman) who is able to generate large profits in his or her business but doesn’t feel a need to build a large house on the lake and drive fancy cars because she or he is free from the bondage of materialism. I’m talking about freedom, not just victory.

Evil is the perversion of that which is good, and every sin is a perversion of something righteous. For example, stealing is the opposite of giving.  Lying is the opposite of honesty.  Adultery is the opposite of fidelity.  My point— and the point of Ephesians 4.28 is that anyone in bondage to sin can find freedom from sin by replacing it with the righteous act that the sin has perverted.

Curses and Blessings

Because this is an online book in rough draft format, I’ve decided to link to the two articles that cover my thinking on blessings and curses.

Gaining Freedom from Sin

Overcoming one’s bondage to sin involves a cluster of activities, none of which in and of themselves will be a silver bullet.  Gaining freedom from sin will involve the following cluster:

  • Replacing the sin with one or more righteous acts
  • Actively resisting the Enemy and his temptations
  • Learning to hear and obey the voice of God
  • Engaging in spiritual warfare
  • Entering into mentoring and community activities
  • Being a life-long learner
  • Building solid relationships and margin
  • Learning Biblical Stewardship
  • Practices daily 2 Chronicles 7.14

In essence, the balance of the topics in Level 1 – Who you Are – in the Christian Business Reference Architecture is how one finds freedom from the bondage of sin as well as setting one on a course to be free to be all that you can be individually and in relationship with your family, employees, partners, customers, vendors, church and community relations.

Take time to read through the other chapters.  Learn that overcoming sin need not be a white-knuckle experience.  Take an honest look at your own life and do what is necessary to overcome your sin – including finding brothers or sisters who can support you and who will love you no matter what.

Summary

I have already said that the first step in running a business God’s way is to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. The very next step is to begin a discipleship process by which you can become free from the bondage of sin. This process of discipleship is illustrated well in 2 Chronicles 7.14: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

In this verse, we have an entire personal discipleship program: we humble ourselves before God, we pray, we seek His face and repent of our sin.  I would implore you, as a Christian Business owner, to practice this every day.  Let God clean out your life and learn to seek His face first—above profits and achievements.  Learn His ways and learn to hear His voice.  This will lay the groundwork for you to be able to engage and grow in the rest of the elements presented in the first part of this Christian Business Reference Architecture.

So let’s look at the next element in this first section of the Christian Business Reference Architecture, Hearing the Voice of God.

 

image_pdf

One thought on “Chapter 3 Freedom from the Bondage of Sin”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *