Humanity has been in servitude to those who held power over them for many thousands of years, but God is at work to open the eyes of society and show us that there are none with different blood; we are all equal in the sight of God. But there is something further that God has been showing all men everywhere, and that is that there is an addictive power at work in sin, making us slaves with spiritual chains to sinful habitual practices. The worst part is that those who had them in bondage kept the truth from them that God has stepped into the world to make them free. The Son of God came to set people free from the invisible chains. Even the most religious of men thought of themselves as free but was not aware of the spiritual bonds of slavery that kept them:
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?” (John 8:31-33).
On July 3l, 1838, on the Island of Jamaica, William Knibbs gathered 10,000 slaves for a great praise gathering. They were celebrating 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 first stroke of the midnight bell, Knibbs shouted out, "The monster is dying." At each stroke of the bell that followed, this cry was repeated, and the great crowd began joining in the utterance. At the twelfth stoke, 10,000 voices cried out, "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 slaves who lived in remote areas of the island were not aware that they had legally been set free. Because they didn't know, for many years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been made law, they still continued to serve their slave masters. Their former masters successfully kept the news from them as long as they could. By law, they had been declared free men and did not have to live as slaves any longer. 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'd hear a story of something like that happening, we'd be shocked, sympathetic, and even angry. But the truth is, the same type of thing is happening in our day. Because of his victory against sin on the cross, Jesus Christ has issued an Emancipation Proclamation of liberty and freedom from sin to everyone on earth. But like some of the Jamaicans were, there are those today that don't understand that they no longer have to live as slaves to sin any longer, 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