Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. (Romans 9:16 NLT)Paul is here defining a life dedicated to sin, where the non-believer is a slave to their impurity, the fleshliness of their sin and the further depravity that resulted from their ongoing dedication to sin. This can also be associated with what the scriptures label as the "old man".
The question then remains, however, if a Christian is automatically delivered from this old nature and has absolutely no sin in their lives as a result of becoming saved and being in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, the very nature of Christ. I would posit that though Christians have every tool at their disposal to defeat the old nature and resist temptation, there is a possibility that a Christian would continue to stumble in particular areas of sin:
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:14-20 NLT)Paul here defines for us a nature that perseveres beyond the time that we become believers, and an ongoing war that is waged between the old nature and the new nature, the "new creation" that God begins in us and has promised to perfect/complete.
I think we need to differentiate between the person that is comfortable with and dedicated to their sinful lives in a unrepentant manner (Galaltians 5:21 and elsewhere tells us that such sinful dedication is a sign that a person is not truly saved), and a person that hates sin, is actively working to combat it and moving the pieces of their lives to actively repent against sin.
For an addict, the level of habitual sin in their lives may be too much to escape, even once they become believers. There is usually no magical deliverance even for true believers, and the ongoing patterns of preoccupation with a sin, then acting out, then feeling shame, then moving back into the cycle starting with preoccupation (even if it is fought) are too much for the believer to escape if they do so in isolation and without the tools they need to be free.
But the Christian and sin can never be friends. A Christian will never live in the practice of sin and be happy with those activities. It is a bondage, a slavery to the flesh from which the Christian should desire utter freedom. If you are a believer in Christ, you should want to be free, and should be willing to "cut off your right hand" (separate from the most important things to you) to be free from your sin. If you aren't willing to separate from any given thing or situation to be free from your sin, you should then be concerned about your security as a believer. If Christ's death on the cross, your family, and all of the other holy things that God has entrusted to you are not worth enough to you to change anything and everything you possibly can to flee immorality, you may want to examine your conversion experience, and whether or not Jesus is really your Lord, or just your sugar daddy in the sky.
God is a loving Father and Friend. He desires your fellowship, your worship, your dedication. He is always willing to forgive and release you from your sin, and is longsuffering in the process. But His plan may very well involve you having to deal with the consequences of your sin, and you have to be willing to submit to His plan, His ways, and then His rewards. His way is going to be so much better than the pit of despair in which you're living.
My next posts will deal more with some of the basic steps that it takes to combat sin. I hope you'll follow me on this journey and take up the tools of warfare to be victorious once and for all over these beasts that have continued to inhibit your joy in Christ.