The famous Welsh preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrated this struggle well. In 1865 the work of Abraham Lincoln and others to abolish slavery in the United States finally came to fruition. All slaves were declared free. Lloyd-Jones says to imagine you had grown up a slave in Alabama. One minute, you’re a slave. The next, you are free—legally, officially, and forever free. While you may now have your freedom, your internal grasp of that freedom may take some time to catch up to the reality. Imagine that one day you ran into your former slave-owner on the street, and he calls out to you, “Come here, boy!” At that moment, will you feel like a slave? I think you probably would. Your whole life, you’ve responded to him as your master. You’re conditioned to obey that voice. Every muscle and fiber in your body is inclined to obey.
But the reality is that you are free. You are not a slave. Your former master has no authority over you at all. He cannot tell you what to do, and you have no obligation to obey him. Our struggle with sin is just like this. Sin once ruled over us, and our bodies were conditioned to obey its demands. It’s the way we lived our entire lives until we were set free by Christ. Now that we know spiritual freedom, our comprehension of it can take a while to catch up. Occasionally, sin calls out, “Come here, boy!” and our initial impulse is to obey. But in Christ we are no longer slaves to sin. We do not need to obey its call. And yet we will feel its pull and even struggle with our first reaction to give in to its demands. Even though we are free, we can choose to do what it says, even though sin has no right to tell us what to do.— Live Free: A Fresh Look at the Fruit of the Spirit, pages 28–29 (emphasis original)