What does enslaved to sin mean?


Just curious. What does enslaved to sin mean? What are the consequences of being ‘enslaved to sin’?

Pretend you’re explaining it to a child, because it doesn’t make sense to me.


It is metaphoric language that reflects the spritual nature of sin. If you have ever tried to break a bad habit and found it difficult to stop the bad habit, keep that experience in mind. Slavery contrasts with freedom; someone who is a slave is not truly free. Being “enslaved to sin” means a person’s sin (or sinful habits) become like a “master” and the person becomes like a “slave” following the commands of the sin while lacking the true freedom.

An extreme example of this is a drug addict who might do anything for his drugs while simultaneously wishing he could break free from his drug habit. Most (maybe even all) sins-have elements of this master/slave relationship; once the habit of sin is established, it is very difficult to break. The consequences of being “enslaved to sin” depends on the seriousness of the sin, but all sin has bad consequences either in this world, or in the next-- or both.

Slaves can be sold to different master. St. Paul reminds Christians in one of his letters. that Jesus paid for us so that we are not longer slaves to sin since we belong to Christ. He also writes of discovering true freedom through serving Christ.

I hope this helps.


If you look at the term used for Jesus’ death on the Cross and how it brought our redemption - the Greek terminology used was common in the slave trade. Jesus “bought back” our sins, just as a someone can “buy back” their freedom, thus releasing them from their slavery.


When we sin, we’re turned away from God. Jesus freed us from our sins so that we can turn back toward God.

Think of a specific sin, say the tendency to gossip. If we gossip about others, we’re prone to seeing their faults and not the positive traits that help us love each other, as God does. When we focus on the bad things in others (enslaved to sin), we fail to see the image of God that is in all of us.



Something interesting Fr. John Corapi was saying today on EWTN in his talk was about how sin can be a master of our will.

We can either be a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. “Slave to righteousness” is a strange phrase, but it’s straight from Scripture.

Ephesians 6:6 and Romans 6:18
And having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness

We have to be a master of our will, and sin can take away our self-mastery and become a master leading us constantly to do bad things. You’ve probably heard that true freedom is in obeying God. That’s very true, because when your master is sin, you are not free.

When your master is God, then your will is aligned with God’s will and you are free. Free to obey him, which is impossible before.

Paul goes on in Romans to say that he was speaking in human terms, and says that being a servant (slave) to God results in our benefit, sanctification, and eternal life. So that’s a lot better than being a slave of evil.


How can sin be the master of our will if we supposedly always possess free will?


Such good questions from you…

We DO have free will, to face God or to turn away from God (sin). If we didn’t have free will, then facing God would have no meaning. We’d just be robots.

When we continue to sin, it becomes more and more difficult to turn around and face God. Likewise, when we strive to avoid sin, it becomes easier to recognize God, to hear him and to love him in return.


When I think of enslave, I think of - servitude against ones will. Would it then be prudent to say you serve the sin because you do so willfully, rather then saying you’re enslaved to it?

My difficulty is with the terminology… You can place yourself in servitude to something, but if you have the ability to walk away at anytime… I think that falls short of what ‘slave’ means.



34 Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, **everyone who sins is a slave to sin.** 35** Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever**. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.


Imagine that your ankle is tied to a post by a long chain. your master, who owns you, tied you to the post. you can move enough to do the work he wants you to do, but there is no way to get free, and you can’t move beyond the circle where that chain moves. Moreover, the work the master wants you to do is not even good work, it is making a product that hurts other people. You have no way to get any food or drink except what the master feeds you, and it is not even very good nutritious tasty food, but you get so hungry you eat it anyhow.

That is slavery, now how did you get to be a slave? The master had something you wanted very much, you knew it was not good for you, but it was very attractive, pretty, exciting, pleasurable and made you feel good inside, good about yourself, and was a lot of fun. He told you this thing would make you happy all your life, and would make you better than anyone else. All you had to do to enjoy this gorgeous thing was to do a little job for him. So you went to work for him, and before you knew it, bam, the chain was on, and you were his prisoner, bound to work for him.

Now imagine someone has come along, paid the price for your freedom–giving away all that he owned to do so–and has cut not only your chains, but the chains of all the other slaves, and you are now free. You gladly follow him, and do anything you can to show your gratitude. he also shows you things that are so much better, more attractive and more desireable than the false glamour that attracted you to your old master. All you have to do is help him in his work of freeing other slaves, which you gladly do.

But some of the slaves, even when their chains are cut, stay where they are, and continue to do the work of their old master and eat his food. They could get up an leave anytime, but either they don’t believe the stranger has power to cut the chains, or they are afraid of the new life, or they have a warped attachment to the old slave master. They are slaves still, even though they are free to leave any time, they are slaves by their own foolish choice.


I understand that. But I wonder if perhaps there was either some confusion when the bible was translated to english, or more likely, if the definition of enslave has somehow changed since it was translated.

I ask since it is difficult to translate directly between languages. I have difficulty with what this means for the reasons I’ve listed above.

(EDIT): Puzzle: Everything makes sense except for being a slave by choice. Would that simply make them a servant rather then a slave?


one enters service of the evil master by free will choice, and that is slavery, not servitude, because it is bondage, sin itself is the chain.


Not so sure bout that… read Paul.

Romans 7:
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. [c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.


Without God’s Graces, you can NOT overcome sin, you would remain a slave to sin.

But if you FREELY accept his Graces, then you have the ability to overcome sin. Hence, you have free will to follow Jesus, or to reject Jesus and remain a slave to sin.


In the original Greek, it is clear that the term slavery is what the Inspired Writers meant.


Other then addiction, what are some of the temporal consequences of being so entralled to sin, or a particular sin?

Try to avoid drugs/sex and such because those seem to be more common sense then say, idolotry or being kind to one’s neighbors etc.



I think (even without addiction) a particular sin because easier to commit each time you do it.

Let’s take lying to your parents.

  • At first, you wouldn’t consider lying to your parents because that’s wrong.
  • Soon, you are able to lie to your parents but only to keep yourself out of trouble. You know it’s wrong, but you don’t want to get into trouble.
  • Soon thereafter, you are willing to lie to your parents in order to get your way. “Mom, I made an ‘A’ on my tests”. When it comes time to report cards, you’re willing to change the letter grades to cover up.
  • Finally, you lie to your parents without even thinking twice about it. No big deal, even if they catch you in the lie.

As it becomes easier to lie, you will eventually get caught lying (by family or friends) and their trust in you will falter.


Each time we commit a particular sin, the action moves closer to become an established habit. Habits are not quite addictions, but they are still hard to break. A person who wants to break a bad habit may still find himself commiting the action without thinking. He may have freely chosen the habit long ago, but once established, there is not much thought or effort involved in continuing it. NotWorthy used the example of lying. There are lots of other examples such as gossiping, loosing one’s temper, etc.

As a person continues to give into the sinful habit, the habit may grow bigger and may spread. A person who doesn’t make efforts to contol his temper may find he looses his temper more often and may even become physically violent. A person who gossips may cause great damage through her gossip–maybe even ruining her relationships with family and friends. Some sinful habits pass from generation to generation (just as slaves were frequently the children of slaves) as the children learn and think the sin normal.


Alright -

Other then things becoming habitatual. Is it possible for sin to effect someones emotional state? Could someone simply stop caring, or become cold/hardened? Like a sociopath? (Note I say like sociopath, not that they are)

If so, how would you fix that? If it were someone you knew, how would you approach it?


Often times, I think, if someone thinks that their sin doesn’t affect others (or they simply don’t consider the victims of their sins), then a feeling of carelessness can easily creep in.

This is one of the reasons some states are trying to institute ultrasounds for expecting mothers who are considering abortion. The rate of abortion, from what I understand, tends to drop when people see for themselves that this is the beginning of a human being, and not just a non-human fetus.

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