Under Sin

by Paul Franco on May 7, 2010

What is meant by apostle Paul’s words “both Jews and Greeks are all under sin” (Romans 3:9)?

The definition of sin, is a departure in behavior from Gods standard of uprightness or an act of disobedience to Gods divine law.

Paul is personifying sin in this statement as he refers to it as a living force which exerts itself over us, and guarantees that we will sin and disobey God. A grave error most Christians make today, is to short hand and understand “under sin” to take on the meaning of being guilty and condemned before God. This is a critical deviation from the truth and brings about numerous problems in ones theology. Of course the Gospel teaches that everyone sins and stands guilty and condemned in the sight of a Holy and Righteous God, but that is not principally what it means to be under sin.

To be “under sin” means that a person is influenced and controlled by sin. An outstanding illustration of this is to think of it in these terms, all objects in the universe that have any mass whether it is as large as a planet or as small as an electron are under the influence and control of gravity. In like manner, every human being is under the influence and control of sin.

This definition of sin is not widely accepted in the evangelical world and most will fight tooth and nail against this meaning in order to preserve the autonomous free will of man. However, this correct definition of sin is of the utmost importance because this definition influences ones definition of salvation, grace, redemption, Holy Spirit, and almost every other sotereological term. If we understand the doctrine of sin incorrectly, it is inevitable that we will incorrectly define all other sotereological doctrines.

In Rom 5:21 Paul has in view sins influence and control over the sinner as he personifies and describes sin as a ‘king’. King sin practices his reign and rule over the sinner which results in spiritual and physical death. What does the Scripture say in Rom 6:6 “we have been crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be (guilty)?” No, it doesn’t say that. “We have been crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be (condemned)?” No, it doesn’t say that. “We have been crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer (go to hell)?” No, it doesn’t say that either. What it says is, “We have been crucified with Christ that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be (SLAVES of SIN).” Sin is the master and a power which controls us unto the point of servitude.

In Rom 6:14,16, 17, 19, 20 Paul uses the terms “slave of sin”, “slave to obey”, “slave of uncleanness” to describe the human will. Paul furthermore says that king sin has dominion over the unbeliever and that the slave obeys his master. Sin cracks the whip and man obeys! The will of man is in no way “free” to the contrary, it is enslaved and bound under his master “sin”.

In Rom 7:14-21 Paul gives us an “experiential description” of what it means to be under sin. He says that he is “sold under sin.” Being sold refers to the analogy of a slave sold to a master that will now own (him/her) and rule over (him/her). He thoroughly explains that he is spiritually incompetent to do anything spiritually pleasing to God,( v18 but to perform what is good I do not find). There is no strength in the human will to obey the law of God, nor is there any strength in the human will to set himself free from the bondage of sin. Sin takes over and thrusts itself over the human will, thereby controlling it.

Most evangelical churches teach some form or another of “free-will”, which is the idea that man, even in sin, is in reality at a neutral point where he is still free to will good or evil, all depending on his own desires and choices. Moreover, they conceive of “free-will” in this context as a power of human will by which a man may apply himself to those things that lead to eternal salvation, or turn away from the same. They understand Scripture to teach that the “free-will” of man must make an effort and strive before grace is able to save that which has prepared itself.
This understanding of the will of man is contrary teaching to Pauline doctrine and must be rejected in light of the Scriptures.

Praise to the glory of God! Who removes the heart of stone from the slave of sin and replaces it with a heart of flesh, whereby God sets the sinner “free” (Eze 36:26). Rom 6:7, 14 says that the believer is “freed from sin” and that “sin no longer has dominion over him”. Rom 6:16 And God be thanked that the believer has “been set free from sin” and he has become a “slave of righteousness”.

Only God can set a sinner free from the bondage of his will which is sold under sin. No person is capable of setting himself free from being “under sin”. John 1:13 says that a true Christian is born again by the “will of God” and not by the “will of man”. God is free and man is a slave. This proper understanding of “under sin” should induce every person to seek Gods mercy by casting himself upon the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Oh wretched sinner, weep for Christ to save you, for you understand your hardness of heart in that you cannot but obey your master which leads you to uncleanness. Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who removes the wrath and anger of the Father, and bestows the robe of forgiveness and grace. Whomever Christ sets free, he is free indeed!

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