Humanity has been in servitude to dark powers for thousands of years, but in these latter days, God is revealing Himself to different countries and cultures to show humanity that there is an addictive power at work in sin, making us spiritually enslaved to habitual sinful practices. These dark, manipulative powers do not want humanity to hear and know that Christ has set us free from invisible chains that kept us in bondage to sin. In New Testament times, even the most religious of men thought of themselves as free, but they were unaware of the spiritual bonds of slavery. Jesus spoke about this, saying,
31So He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33“We are Abraham’s descendants,” they answered. “We have never been slaves to anyone. How can You say we will be set free?” 34Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:31-34 Emphasis mine).
On July 3l, 1838, on the Island of Jamaica, William Knibbs gathered 10,000 enslaved people for a great praise gathering. They celebrated the New Emancipation Proclamation Act that would abolish slavery on the island. They built an immense coffin, and into it were placed whips, branding irons, chains, fetters of all kinds, slave garments, and all the things that represented the terrible slavery system that was now coming to a welcome end.
At the midnight bell's first stroke, Knibbs shouted, "The monster is dying." The cry was repeated at each stroke of the bell, and the great crowd began joining in the utterance. At the twelfth stroke, 10,000 voices shouted, "The monster is dead, the monster is dead, let us bury him." They then screwed the coffin lid down, lowered it into a huge grave, and covered it up. That night, every heart rejoiced, and 10,000 voices grew hoarse, shouting and crying with joy. Once, they were in bondage to slavery, but now they were free.
There is a tragic side to this story. While many rejoiced in their new liberty and freedom, some enslaved people living in remote areas of the island were unaware they had been legally set free. Because they didn't know the Emancipation Proclamation was made law, they continued to serve their slave masters. Their former masters successfully kept the news from them as long as possible. They were declared free men by law and no longer had to live as slaves. However, ignorance of the truth kept them in bondage.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
Now let me tell you an even sadder story. Today, if we heard a story of something like that happening, we'd be shocked, sympathetic, and even angry. But the truth is, the same thing is happening in our day. Because of His victory against sin on the cross, Jesus Christ issued everyone on earth an Emancipation Proclamation of liberty and freedom from sin. But like some Jamaicans, some today don't understand that they no longer have to live as slaves to sin, and the devil is trying to keep them in that mindset.
The message of the cross is this: Satan has been defeated, and sin's penalty has been paid. We no longer have to surrender to sinful practices or be controlled by Satan. We can belong to Jesus and live to please God.
Adapted by Keith Thomas from: http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-bill-lobbs-stories-whatisevangelism-greatcommission-lordshipofchrist-1204.asp