The Emancipation Proclamation

January 2, 2020
George T. Ferrier

“For he that is dead is freed from sin.” (Rom. 6:7)

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, declared all slaves in the Southern Confederacy to be free.1 However it was dependent upon the North winning the on-going Civil War. In Romans 6:7 we have the believer’s Emancipation Proclamation grounded upon our identification with Christ’s victorious death and resurrection.

Possessing an indwelling sin nature2 is the common human condition, resulting from Adam’s fall. Just as a child of a slave was a slave, so we are born slaves of sin because our parents were as well. David, a man after God’s own heart said, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5).3 The flesh is the cruel task master of humanity, treating all as common slaves.

But all things have become new for the believer (2 Cor. 5:17). Our old man, whose identity was in Adam, was a slave of indwelling sin. However, this old man was crucified with Christ. Romans 6:6 reads, “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” Through our identification with Christ’s death, sin has been dethroned and we have been set free.

Now indwelt by the risen Christ, believers have a new identity in Him (Gal. 2:20). Our old identity in Adam was under the tyranny of sin. Our new one in Christ has been liberated. Though we still have a sinful nature, it is no longer our master. We have been redeemed from its power, entering into a new relationship of adversary.

Amalek is an Old Testament type of the flesh. He was the grandson of Esau (Gen. 36:12), who sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a pot of lentil stew (Gen. 25:34). Giving in to fleshly desires, Esau symbolized those who prioritize temporary physical rewards over eternal, spiritual ones. A few hundred years later, shortly after their redemption from Egypt, Israel arrived in Rephidim where there was no water. Hearing the people’s complaints, the Lord instructed Moses to strike the rock in Horeb once, bringing water for the people. This rock represents Christ dying once for our sins (1 Cor 10:4; Heb. 9:28), so that He could be the author of eternal salvation to all who believe (Heb. 5:9). The water typifies the Holy Spirit given by Christ at Pentecost and to every believer since at their conversion (Jn. 7:37-39; Acts 2:1-4; 1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Jn. 2:27).

“Then came Amalek” (Ex. 17:8, KJV). Surprising them from the rear. Preying on the stragglers, the weak, the tired (Deut. 25:17-19). When did Amalek attack? Then! After the striking of the rock and the provision of water. Soon after their salvation some Christians are surprised when they are suddenly confronted with an attack by the flesh. They ask “How can this happen? I’m a believer now.” Some begin to doubt whether they were ever saved. On the contrary, war has been declared because they are saved. Not appreciating its dethronement, the flesh fights with the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). It is our enemy within.

Israel won the battle that day with Joshua leading the fight below with the sword, a symbol of God’s Word, while Moses stood interceding on the top of the hill, his hands outstretched to heaven in prayer with the rod of God, a symbol of God’s power (Ex. 17:9-13). Similarly, it is gazing upon Christ through His Word and prayer (2 Cor. 3:18) that we gain increasing victories in our battle with sin, becoming more conformed to Christ’s image. When Moses’ hands were tired, Amalek prevailed but when Moses kept his hands up, Israel prevailed. Similarly, we must depend upon Christ’s resurrection power for victory, stretching our hearts upwards to heaven to the glorified Christ at the right hand of God.

But it was just one battle! Amalek would be back because the war was not over. In Exodus 17:16 we read, “Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” Israel had continual battles with Amalek over their history (Num. 14:45; Jdg. 3:13; 6:3). It culminated with Haman’s – a descendent of the Amalekite kings (Est. 3:1) – attempt to kill all the Jews. Similarly, each daily victory over sin is just one battle. The war will not cease in this life. Our Amalek is an ever-present foe until either death or the rapture.

The Lord told King Saul to attack Amalek and spare nothing. However, in disobedience Saul allowed their king to live and spared the spoils. After telling Saul it would cost him his kingdom, Samuel hacked King Agag to pieces (1 Sam. 15). Similarly, we are not to make provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. Instead we are to feed our inner man, our new nature that desires Christ (Rom 13:14). There is nothing redeemable about our flesh. Instead as we submit to the Spirit, He mortifies (puts to death) or subdues the evil desires of the flesh.

In Exodus 17:14 we read, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” The Lord promised Moses and Joshua that someday He would remove Amalek from the face of the earth forever. Similarly, our sin nature is condemned. Under the sentence of death. After describing his struggle with sin (Rom. 7), Paul victoriously shouts, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Our sin nature is under condemnation. We are not. Our new life in Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). “Denny explains, ‘It is subjection to the law of sin and death which involves condemnation, emancipation from it leaves no places for condemnation’.”4

In Romans 8:3 we read, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.” God sent His Son on account of or in connection to sin. The holy Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh (man with no indwelling sin) to die for the sins of those under the dominion of sin. God condemned sin through His Son’s death. He gave sin a death sentence, serving notice that its days are numbered, while cancelling its power over us, setting us free.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.5

The story is told of a Native American who came to Christ. He said, “There are now two dogs in me.” He was asked, “which one wins?” He replied, “the one I feed.” Having been set free, deliverance from the power of sin has been provided. Daily experiencing our freedom in Christ comes as we are guided by His Spirit (Rom. 8:4). Furthermore, final victory will be ours in that future day when we are finally free from the presence of sin. The death of sin. Glory to God!

Glorious freedom, wonderful freedom,
No more in chains of sin I repine!
Jesus the glorious Emancipator,
Now and forever He shall be mine.6 •
Also referred to as the flesh or sin
All references are in the NKJV unless otherwise indicated
Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995)
O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing, Charles Wesley
Glorious Freedom, Haldor Lillenas