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What's the Difference Between Struggling With Sin and Being a Slave to Sin?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
July 17, 2023 12:00 pm

What's the Difference Between Struggling With Sin and Being a Slave to Sin?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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July 17, 2023 12:00 pm

Episode 1272 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

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Questions in this Episode

1. What's the difference between slavery to sin and struggling with sin?

2. How can I find healing for my heart when I've been hurt by the Church?

3. Should pastors be involved in politics?

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What's the difference between being a slave to sin and struggling against sin? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can always email us at

First up today, here's a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners named Mitchell. What is the difference between being a slave to sin and struggling against sin? Because I know there's a difference, one, because people who are Christians are no longer slaves to sin.

I just wonder what the difference is between those two. Thank you, and have a great day. Mitchell, what an excellent question, and this one can cause a lot of concern, because if you're a believer in Jesus Christ, you have that strong language in the New Testament about not being a slave to sin. But we still struggle, and sometimes we still struggle with the same sins over and over and over again. We're praying, Lord, help me, help me with this.

I'm struggling with the same thing. Am I a slave to sin? Does this mean that I don't really belong to you as a Christian, that I'm not truly a child of God? And boy, we get that question over and over again, right?

If you listen to the broadcasts, you know that people call in, and this is what they're wrestling with. How can I know that I'm truly a child of God, especially when I continue to struggle with sin? I'm so convicted by it.

I still struggle. The chapters really to focus on here in the Bible with regard to this question are Romans chapters 6 through 8. In chapter 6, Paul makes it absolutely clear. He was talking about the doctrine of justification earlier in the previous chapters, you know, 3 through 5.

He highlights that, the fact that we've been justified. We have peace with God now, having been justified because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. And so now, in light of the fact that we've been justified, that is accounted righteous in God's eyes for the sake of Christ and through the gift of Christ's righteousness and the forgiveness of our sins, now we have a new identity as the children of the true and the living God.

And that's where Paul goes on to say in chapter 6 verse 1, what shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound by no means? How can we who died to sin still live in it? Now how is it that we've died to sin? We died to sin through the body of Jesus Christ. We're so united to him that when he died on the cross for our sins, it's as if we died too.

We're dead to sin. And he says, don't you know, do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? In other words, your baptism was this picture, this sacrament of your belonging to Jesus being united to him in his death and his resurrection by faith. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

And so look, I just want to speak to all of you right now who have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. You believe in Jesus. You are united to Christ such that you are dead to sin. The law of God no longer looms over you to condemn you.

You have a new relationship to the law. And actually, that's what the Apostle Paul is going to go on to say in chapter 7. He says in verse 1 of chapter 7, Do you not know, brothers, for I am speaking to those who know the law, that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives. For a married woman is bound by the law to her husband while he lives. But if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from the law.

And if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ so that you may belong to another to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive so that we serve in a new way, in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. In other words, the law is not over you anymore to condemn you. You're no longer under the law if you are in Christ. In Adam, all of us are under the law dead because of sin. In Christ, if you've been united to Jesus by faith, you're no longer under the law. Now, does that mean that the law doesn't matter for you?

The Ten Commandments don't matter for you? No, that's not what Paul is saying. He's saying now by the Spirit, the law can't condemn us anymore, but now by the Spirit, we have been set free to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. We get to obey God, not out of a desire to earn our salvation, but because he's forgiven our sins and united us to his Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So we've been set free. So what's the difference? The difference is the person who's a slave to sin, that's their identity. They're not united to Jesus Christ. The person who has been united to Christ by faith, as pictured in the Blessed Sacrament of Baptism, the person who's united to Jesus Christ by faith, that person is going to continue to struggle. You're going to continue to struggle with sin until the day that you die. But the law is not over you to condemn you anymore, and you've been set free so that you should present yourself to God, not as one who's dead, right?

Oh man, I'm just, I'm lost. Present yourself to God, and this is what Paul goes on to say back in chapter six, present yourself to God as one who is alive from the dead. You've been raised with Jesus, and you present yourself to God, and the members of your body, your whole self, you present yourself to God, and you are, you exist as an instrument of righteousness to serve the true and the living God, and by the Spirit of God, we're called to put to death the sinful deeds of the body. And so what I would say to you, my friend, is look, you're united to Jesus. You're no longer under the law.

You have a new relationship to it. You have been set free. The Spirit of God lives in you. Live into that new identity that God has given you through faith in Christ, through having justified you, and walk in that freedom.

Walk in that freedom and do everything you can in pursuit of the Lord to love and follow Him. Thanks for that question, and excellent question, as I said. God bless.

Great explanation. Thank you for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you can always feel free to leave us a voicemail 24 hours a day at 833-THECORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. And you can also email us at questions at

Let's go to Pat calling in from Indiana. Pat, what's your question for Adriel? It's kind of a mixed thing because how do you resurrect a heart that has been so torn and run over? And as I explained to the first person, I told her, I said that the church itself or churches, at least the two we've been with, were not stellar in doing what they should have. I guess they're human, but you sit there and not try to keep a community. We're supposed to be our brother's keeper in a sense. If you're stronger in the Lord, you help to raise up the others. And time after time after time, my children are still so bitter about the fact that, I don't know, when I came into the church, it was more or less as a single parent is when I came back into this. And nobody seemed to want to help with us.

Nobody seemed to want to bother with us. And my children are very adamant. They want nothing to do with it because they always rejected us. And I've told several of them, I said, you know, if it's me or something personal, I mean, you know, you have to take this up with God or something. But I said, why don't you include my children?

You know, they didn't get nobody got no invites, no nothing. So as time has gone by, I wound up leaving that church behind or both of them in a sense. And pretty much there's been no real solid anything since because it just seems like I'm seeing more and more where people seem to have some sort of partiality or hey, I'm sorry, I've been just too busy, can't do anything. Pat, the first thing I just want to say, my heart goes out to you as a single mother. I was raised by a single mom who did everything she could to provide for us.

And I know how hard that was for her. And I know how hard it must have been for you and especially looking for help. Boy, single moms need a ton of help. Families need a lot of help. Single moms need a ton of help. And the church should be a place where as a single mom, you're able to go and get that help for you and for your family, that encouragement, that care.

It sounds like that didn't happen. And so I just want to say my heart breaks there. And partiality in the church has been a problem since the very beginning. In fact, James addresses this in the New Testament.

My brothers, he says, this is James chapter two, verse one, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly and a poor man in shabby clothing comes in, or we might say or a single mother comes in. And if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, you sit here in a good place, while you say to the poor, you stand over there or sit down at my feet. Have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. It sounds to me like you've experienced dishonor.

And you know what? I mean, I talked to so many people now as a pastor. I mean, I'm a pastor of a church. And I talked to many people who their struggle is, you know, I was in church for a while, but I was dishonored, quote unquote, or I had this horrible experience. And some of them have indeed had terrible experiences. Oh, and I will say some people, they can use it as an excuse.

And I'm not saying that you're doing that, but there are some people, it's a smokescreen. It's just, you know, I really don't want to be in church and I'm going to make excuses for why not. But it sounds like you've had some really difficult situations. And despite this, I want to say to you that God still calls you, Jesus still calls you to himself and to be a part of the church. Now, maybe not to be a part of those churches where you experienced hurt and neglect, but to still pursue Jesus together with other believers around the word of God, coming to the Lord's table to take communion together, being honest about your needs.

We're called to bear and share burdens with one another. And so I just want to encourage you and say, don't give up on the church. And here's why you shouldn't give up on the church. It's because Jesus doesn't give up on the church.

He said, I'm going to build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against her. Jesus is still at work in the church today. Yeah, there are some churches that reject the gospel and have fallen into sin and idolatry, such that they can't even really be considered churches anymore. I think Jesus talks about this in Revelation chapters two and three. Some churches have gone so far astray from Christ's word and from the truth that the lampstand has been removed. But the light of Christ is still shining throughout the world where the word of God, where the gospel is being faithfully proclaimed. Now, I have an article that I wrote some years ago because, as I said, this is something that comes up again and again, called Why You Still Need the Church, Even If You Have Been Hurt By It. You can get it over at If you just Google why you still need the church, even if you've been hurt by it, by Adriel Sanchez, I mean, it'll probably come up.

But I highlight some of the reasons there. And one of the things I mentioned there, Pat, and I just want you to hear this, is Jesus knows what it's like to be abused and neglected by religious authorities. I mean, that's what we see in the gospels, isn't it?

The religious authorities, the quote-unquote church of the day, rejecting him out of jealousy, mocking him, crucifying him, ultimately. And so if anyone understands what it is to be hurt by the church, if you will, it's Jesus. And you can go to him, and he sympathizes with you and your weakness and your struggles and your fears and your concerns.

But he calls you to himself and he calls you still to pursue him together with the people of God. And so I hope that you will find a good church where the word of God is being preached and where you and your family can be cared for. And may God bless you and your family. Pat, thanks so much for your call. We are so sorry that happened to you. And if something like that has happened to you, similar to Pat, we do want to mention that great resource we have. It's one of our core questions. It's called, What do I do when I've been hurt by the church? And you can find that by going to forward slash questions. Well, let's go to John calling in from Oklahoma. John, what's your question for Adriel?

Thank you. Yes, back in the days of the Revolutionary War, you had the Black Robe Regiment, where the pastors were ready to join in to the calls, the political calls. And nowadays, there seems to be a big call for pastors and church leaders to be more involved, you know, with whatever abuses that are going on in the political realm.

And so I know the church I go to, they just concentrate on preaching and teaching the word and going through the Bible and reaching out to the community and discipleship. They don't really get into the political realm that much. I just wanted to see what you had to say about that. Well, John, obviously, I mean, there can be failures on both sides here. So like a failure on the side of getting into the political realm would look like, I think, you know, pastors who turn the pulpit into a place for, you know, you should vote for this candidate, and we're gathering signatures for this, that or the other.

And it really is sort of like, you know, a political mobilizing institution. And that takes away from the pure preaching of the Word of God. Now, as we're preaching the Word of God, God's Word speaks to so many of the issues of the day. We've, you know, on the broadcast, you know, we've recently been offering a devotional called Fearfully Made, which is basically about the issue of abortion.

Why? Because the Bible talks about life and human dignity. And so we ought to talk about those things as Christians. The Bible talks about sexuality and culture and all of these things. And so it's not that we just avoid those topics, those topics that are very clearly being spoken about all around us. No, we want to apply the Word of God faithfully to the issues of the day as we're preaching the whole Council of Scripture.

And so maybe an error on the other side would just be, well, we don't talk about anything. And where the Bible speaks to these things, we just sort of neglect it. Now, I'll just speak very candidly as a pastor.

I've realized over the years that different people in your church are going to have different passions. There are going to be some people who think you really need to speak out about this issue, because it's very important for them in particular. And maybe it is indeed a very important issue.

And then other people who think, well, that's not my thing. You really need to speak out about this issue or that issue. And really, you can have all sorts of issues that people are pulling you towards. So I think we want to be careful here because, yes, there are things that we need to be addressing and talking about. No, it's not the job of the pastor to address culture every single day.

That's not the focus. The focus is the pure exposition of the Word of God and applying it to the issues that are relevant to the congregation. And this is what Paul charged Timothy with. This is 2 Timothy 4, verse 1, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching. What a sober exhortation. What a sober charge, right? I'm charging you in the presence of God and of Christ, the judge of the living and the dead, and by his second coming and by the appearing of his kingdom.

I'm charging you on the basis of all of these things, Timothy. Preach the Word of God. That's what ministers need to be doing faithfully. And if your pastor is not applying the Word of God as he should to the issues of the day, okay, well, that's an area maybe where we're not preaching as we should because we're not applying what the Word of God says, or we're just not preaching it.

We're not willing to call sin, sin. On the other side, though, I want to say if we're neglecting that charge that we have as ministers and we're dabbling in politics, and that becomes the focus of the pulpit, and we think that the real way that God is going to advance his kingdom in the world is if we can just get people to vote a certain way, and it really is dependent upon who's in office, well, then we've also fallen short of what our charge is, and we've neglected that charge. Your pastor is not going to be and can't be an expert on everything. And this is, again, sometimes I think we have too high of expectations for pastors. We assume that they ought to be omnicompetent, and some pastors out there parade themselves around as though they were omnicompetent.

They have an opinion that they want to bind your conscience on with regard to everything, medical issues, political issues, economy issues, everything. The minister should be focused on caring for the people within the church and properly handling the Scriptures. What a sobering thing it is to open God's Word every week and say, this is what the Lord says.

Thus saith the Lord. And so you only have so much time in the week, and that's going to take time to truly dig into the Word, to pray over the Word, to preach the Word well. And so my encouragement would be, if you're in a church where they're focused on the Word of God and engaging the community through evangelism, wonderful. Now, maybe your pastor doesn't speak to a particular issue that you really think you should speak to.

I mean, have those conversations. But if he's preaching through Scripture expositionally and seeking to apply the Word of God faithfully, it's not about standing on a hobby horse, a particular hobby horse. I think you should rejoice and give thanks to God for that.

That's a good thing. And receive that glorious gospel, the ministry that God gives to us through the faithful preaching of the Word. John, I appreciate your question. Maybe I'll just go back to you really quickly, John, to follow up, because I know there are so many people who have this same question for you as a person in the pew. Is your concern that your pastor or that pastors are getting too much into it or that they're not getting enough into it? Well, my concern is, you know, you hear a lot about it, even from pastors. Pastors are saying, all my fellow pastors in a lot of these churches are just not getting involved in what's going on in the nation. I mean, our nation is going down the tubes, you know. But no, as far as my church goes, I'm happy with having a refuge to go to, to hear the Word of God preached and to kind of get away from what's going on out in the world. Yeah, no, praise God for that. And so I think that part of the reason people are really wrestling with is, just like you said, there's so much concern about what's going on around us.

And boy, it just feels like we're going down the tube, that sort of a thing. The answer for the church, right, in terms of what we're called to, is faithfully proclaiming the Word of God and living as Christians in the world. And so there are practical implications to that, but I don't think that the answer is, boy, we really need to start doing more, you know, boots on the ground, gathering signatures and getting involved in politics as ministers. Nothing wrong with getting involved in politics, but as a minister, what are you called to focus your attention on?

What are you called to bring your people week in and week out? It's the pure preaching of God's Word. And so God bless you and grateful to hear you're in a good church. Really well said.

Thanks for that, Adriel. By the way, we want to mention that CORE Christianity is a listener-supported ministry. We count on people just like you to keep us on the air. We actually have a special group of people we want to thank called our inner CORE. If you've been blessed by the broadcast, brothers and sisters, and you're encouraged by the work that we do, I want you to consider joining the inner CORE.

It's a monthly donation of $25 or more. And it's one of the ways that you can partner with us, really get involved in the work that we're doing, seeking to build people up in their faith and encourage them in their walk with the Lord. So again, if you've been blessed, go to forward slash inner CORE to sign up, and we'd love for you to do that. As a thank you, we'll send you a copy of the book CORE Christianity by Dr. Michael Horton. I know that that will also be a wonderful resource and encouragement to you. And so brothers and sisters, may the Lord bless your day and thank you once again for listening to CORE Christianity. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-17 14:20:18 / 2023-07-17 14:30:12 / 10

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