In January 1863 Abraham Lincoln declared through the Emancipation Proclamation that all slaves then currently held in any southern state still in rebellion were free. It was a momentous document in American history, and it has some Biblical parallels.
The first and most obvious is that Jesus Christ came to free all humanity from the slavery of sin. With none righteous before God, Jesus gave himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin so all people could be free. As Romans 6 says, we were all, in our natural state, servants or slaves to sin, unable to do what was right before God. We were completely under subjection to our bondage. Through Christ’s atoning sacrifice we were then made free from the law of sin and death, free to pursue life and holiness.
But like the original Emancipation Proclamation, it only had power if the person enslaved heard about it and believed it. It may be surprising to some here in Christian America but there are literally multitudes who only know the name of Jesus Christ as an exclamatory swear word. They know nothing about His proclamations, the offer of a better life of freedom, and through either circumstances or ignorance they remain slaves.
But there is a third parallel, one that plays out the same today as it did after the Civil War. There were slaves who, after obtaining their freedom, went back home to their plantations, because they knew no other way of life. They were free, but chose to return to a variation of their past bondage. Have you not known believers who claimed they were born again, yet they continued in their old sinful habits like nothing happened? Eventually this situation will only lead to the rejection of the doctrine that Christ has power over sin. It doesn’t work because it didn’t work for me. To open a cell door, the key only works in the lock if it’s the right key turned the right way. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we’ve done everything right, when we’ve totally misunderstood. A renewed life means going forward, not living in the past.
The proclamation has been given; Jesus Christ has freed us from the slavery of sin and death, and if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36) Did you hear about it? Do you believe it?