Slavery in the United States was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865. How many slaves were there on December 19? In reality, none, but many still lived like slaves. They did because they never learned the truth. Others knew and even believed that they were free, but chose to continue living as they had always been taught.
Many plantation owners were devastated by this proclamation of emancipation. “We’re ruined! Slavery has been abolished. We’ve lost the battle to keep our slaves.” But their chief spokesman slyly responded, “Not necessarily. As long as these people think they’re still slaves, the proclamation of emancipation will have no practical effect. You don’t have a legal right over them anymore, but many of them don’t know it. Keep your slaves from learning the truth, and your control over them will not even be challenged.”
“But what if the news spreads?”
“Don’t panic. We have another barrel on our gun. We may not be able to keep them from hearing the news, but we can still keep them from understanding it. They don’t call me the father of lies for nothing. We still have the potential to deceive the whole world. Just tell them that they misunderstood the Thirteenth Amendment. Tell them that they are going to be free, not that they are free already. The truth they heard is just positional truth, not actual truth. Someday they may receive the benefits, but not now.”
“But, they’ll expect me to say that. They won’t believe me.”
“Then pick out a few persuasive ones who are convinced that they’re still slaves and let them do the talking for you. Remember, most of these newly freed people were born as slaves and have lived like slaves all their lives. All we have to do is to deceive them so that they still think like slaves. As long as they continue to do what slaves do, it will not be hard to convince them that they must still be slaves. They will maintain their slave identity because of the things they do. The moment they try to profess that they are no longer slaves, just whisper in their ear, `How can you even think you are no longer a slave when you are still doing things that slaves do?’ After all, we have the capacity to accuse the brethren day and night.”
Years later, many slaves have still not heard the wonderful news that they have been freed, so naturally they continue to live the way they have always lived. Some slaves have heard the good news, but they evaluate it by what they are presently doing and feeling. They reason, “I’m still living in bondage, doing the same things I have always done. My experience tells me that I must not be free. I’m feeling the same way I was before the proclamation, so it must not be true. After all, your feelings always tell the truth.” So they continue to live according to how they feel, not wanting to be hypocrites!
One former slave, however, hears the good news, and receives it with great joy. He checks out the validity of the proclamation, and finds out that the highest of all authorities originated the decree. Not only that, but it personally cost that authority a tremendous price, which he willingly paid so that the slave could be free. As a result, the slave’s life is transformed. He correctly reasons that it would be hypocritical to believe his feelings and not the truth. Determined to live by what he knows to be true, his experiences began to change rather dramatically. He realizes that his old master has no authority over him and does not need to be obeyed. He gladly serves the one who set him free.’
The gospel is the “proclamation of emancipation” for every sinner who is sold into the slavery of sin. Every person that comes into this world is born dead in his or her trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), and is by nature a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). The good news is that we who are Christians are no longer slaves to sin. We are now alive in Christ and dead to sin (Romans 6:11). We have been set free in Christ. We are no longer sinners in the hands of an angry God. We are saints in the hands of a loving God. We are forgiven, justified, redeemed, and born-again children of God. We may not feel like it, we may not act like it, and others may tell us that we are not, but we have been sanctified in Christ and are being sanctified in Him.
Taken from: The Common Made Holy by Neil T. Anderson & Robert L. Saucy. Copyright © 1998 by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, p. 31-33. Used by Permission