Sin has wreaked havoc in ourselves, others, and the world. Sin has marred the image of God in mankind and introduced guilt, shame, fear, sorrow, pain, and death into the world (Genesis 2:17; 3:7, 10, 18, 19). Sin resulted in our original ancestors being ejected from the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24). Sin has infected our DNA and is transmitted even to our offspring (Psalm 51:5). It is not only we who are adversely affected by sin; we damage others by our sinfulness (Matthew 15:19). To be free from sin means to reverse these effects and to guarantee that they do not return. This is exactly what God has promised to do and has already begun doing by sending His Son to break the power and penalty of sin (Genesis 3:15; John 8:36).
What is meant by being free from sin?
For those of us who have repented from sin and received Jesus Christ, freedom from sin has begun. We who believe have been set free from the penalty of sin, including the fear of death, condemning guilt, and hell itself (Hebrews 2:14–15; Romans 8:1; John 3:16–18). We have also been set free from the dominating reign of sin over our own hearts and conduct (Romans 6:6, 17–18). Having received the Spirit of God, we are given new hearts that desire to love and obey God (Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 5:17). We are no longer bound to sin. Paul writes in Romans 6 about being free from sin and a slave to righteousness. In Christ, we are free to not sin and to instead live righteously.
However, there is a sense in which we are not yet fully free. We still struggle with the remnants of sin found in our old nature or "old self" as Scripture states (Romans 7:21–25; Ephesians 4:20–24; Colossians 3:9). We do not always live righteously, but still succumb to sin. We are in a process of transformation, gradually becoming more like Christ through sanctification. In Christ, all our sins have been forgiven eternally. When we sin, our fellowship with God is disrupted, much like a disobedient child who disobeys his father. But there is restoration in Christ (1 John 1:8–9). God never disowns His children and is eager to restore them to full fellowship with Himself.
Aside from our own sinfulness, we also live in a sin-sick world and suffer the negative consequences of sin in a more general sense. As Christians, we live between two worlds. The present evil age and the promised new heavens and new earth. Our freedom has been declared, assured, and partially experienced but there are greater things promised and yet to behold in the world to come.
To be completely free from sin means to be completely conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:49). Although this process of sanctification has begun in the believer, it is not complete until we die and go to be with God or until Christ returns (whichever happens first for us). To be completely free from sin means to desire and to do only what is pleasing to and glorifies God. To be completely free from sin is to experience the love of God, the peace of God, and the joy of God for eternity. For the believer in Christ, to die is to be freed completely from the presence of sin and ushered immediately into the presence of God, our Savior and Redeemer. This is why the apostle Paul could say with confidence, "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
To be completely free from sin means to live in a pristine new world which has not and cannot suffer the tragic consequences of sin and is populated only by those who have been purified and perfected—a world without tears, sorrow, pain, fear, death, grief, shame, guilt; a world of love; a world promised to those who believe in Jesus Christ and look forward to His return (Revelation 21:1–4). Until then, we live knowing we have been freed from sin's dominion. Instead, we are slaves to righteousness, humbly yielding to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to the glory of God. We give God praise for the freedom He has assured and granted, and live knowing that we belong to Christ. "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).
What does the Bible mean when it talks about being a slave to sin?
Are Christians saints or sinners? Or both?
How is a Christian a new creation? What does 2 Corinthians 5:17 mean?
How should our identity in Christ affect the way we live?
How can I have victory in overcoming sin?
Truth about Sin