The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.
President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Yet two and a half years later, there were over a quarter of a million slaves in Texas who were unaware of their new freedom. Celebrations broke out throughout Galveston and across the state as thousands of people discovered what had already been true for some time: they were free.
We are surrounded by slaves today, even in the "land of the free." In fact, many of the freedoms that are enjoyed in the United States have only served to further enslave men. In his second letter, Peter writes about false teachers, saying: "They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved" (2 Peter 2:19).
We are surrounded by people who are slaves to sin, caught up in patterns of behavior that control their lives: lust, ambition, addictions, greed. They don't know that freedom is available for the taking! They don't know that Christ offers freedom from sin. Many of them don't even know that they are slaves. Yet Christ came and died to offer them freedom.
Our task, therefore, is to embrace the freedom that Christ offers and announce that freedom to others. We need to help people see that slavery to our own desires is still slavery and that God offers a way out of that bondage.