Subscribe to the CompellingTruth.org Newsletter:


What is spiritual bondage?

The word bondage is defined as: "the state of being a slave." So, the term spiritual bondage would essentially mean "the state of being a spiritual slave." In general, we could use the term spiritual bondage to refer to anything that keeps us from being fully submitted to the lordship and power of Jesus in an area of our lives.

The phrase "spiritual bondage" is not one that is found in the Bible, but the Bible does mention that unbelievers are in bondage to sin and the Devil (John 8:34; Acts 8:23; Romans 6:6, 16, 19; 7:14). Believers cannot be a "possession" or slave of Satan for eternity, because they were purchased once and for all by the blood of Jesus. Instead of being bound by sin, believers should actively walk in the righteousness and freedom that God has provided for them (1 Peter 1:18–19; see also John 8:36).

This does not mean that believers cannot experience spiritual or demonic "oppression" as a result of their own sinful choices or even their upbringing. Sometimes, when someone becomes a believer, they have lived in a specific sin for so long that they do not even recognize it as such. If a believer notices that he/she is still struggling with a consistent sin habit or an unhealthy mindset, despite being saved and repeatedly asking God for forgiveness, they may need to take additional action to make a change. Paul instructs believers: "to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22–24; see also 2 Corinthians 10:3–5).

There will always be the temptation to sin, so it is important that believers cut off temptation when it begins (Matthew 6:13; 1 Corinthians 7:5; Galatians 6:1). If believers allow sins like anger, lying, greed, unforgiveness, etc., to remain in their hearts, it becomes an open door to "give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:27). If believers recognize that they have given the Devil a foothold in their lives, they need to humble themselves, seek the Lord, and resist the Devil (James 4:6–8; Ephesians 6:10–18).

Another temptation that could lead to a type of spiritual bondage is the temptation for believers to enter into an unhealthy version of "religion." The term religion comes from a Latin root word that means "to bind fast." This implies a sense of bondage or obligation. Religion itself can turn into a version of spiritual bondage when believers fixate too heavily on one aspect of it, such as an overemphasis on the fear of judgment or hell, an obsession with demonic activity, or even a fixation on specific Christian rituals that they feel must be done in order to avoid negative repercussions. Even a self-imposed "requirement" to spend a certain number of minutes in prayer or to read a certain number of Bible chapters in a day can become an unhealthy form of spiritual bondage that emphasizes religion itself over a relationship with God. God's perfect love drives out the fear that tries to invade our minds (1 John 4:18). God brings us rest and we are never separated from His love (Matthew 11:28; Romans 8:37–39; Jude 1:24).

When we are truly saved, we do not continue living the same sinful life that we lived before we were saved (1 John 3:4–10); we live according to the Spirit (Romans 8:5–17). However, we need to be aware that we have an enemy who would like nothing more than for us to give him a foothold so that we will be oppressed instead of walking in the true freedom we have in Christ (1 Peter 5:8–9). There is no reason for us to be afraid of the Devil: "for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

This is why all believers need to work on renewing their minds: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). When we place our trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, we become children of God: His Holy Spirit indwells us, leads us in His paths, and brings us true freedom from all bondage (Proverbs 3:5–6; Romans 8:14–15).


Related Truth:

Freedom in Christ - What is it? How can I experience true freedom in Christ?

Why does obedience to God matter?

Spiritual warfare - What does the Bible say?

How does a person resist the Devil? Why does resisting the Devil cause him to flee?

The joy of the Lord — What is it?


Return to:
Truth about the Christian Life



THE TRUTH ABOUT: