Ephesians 1:7. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 7 In him we have redemption through his blood…
Our next spiritual blessing in the heavenly places is redemption.
We all love a good redemption story don’t we? The former gang member who now mentors kids. The athlete who returns from scandal to the top of their sport. The prisoner turned preacher. The princess who breaks free from her curse by an act of true love and then uses that curse as a gift for her kingdom (yes, I’m talking about one of my favorite movies, Frozen).
We all love a good redemption story, but have you ever thought about your own redemption story?
Redemption occurs when someone is purchased out of slavery by the paying of a price. In Paul’s first century Greco-Roman culture slaves were redeemed all the time. They were purchased and then given their freedom. Sometimes they were even adopted by their master. In the Old Testament if someone was a slave, a near relative or kinsman could redeem them out of slavery. In Exodus God redeemed Israel out of their slavery to Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb.
You might be thinking at this point, “Wait a minute Brady, I’ve never been a slave.”
But in reality we are ALL born into slavery. Not earthly slavery hopefully. But spiritual slavery. We are all born slaves to the master of Sin, Death, and the Law. We are born guilty, hopeless, and helpless. All of us. If you are a Christian, you know this. You know that you were once in bondage to fear, guilt, lust, pride, and greed (Eph. 2:1-3).
But God, in his infinite love, became a slave like us and for us. He united his life to humanity. We call this the incarnation. Jesus became an enslaved human. Enslaved to the bondage of the dying mortal flesh. Enslaved to the bondage of spiritual death on the cross. Without ever sinning he became a prisoner to the curse of Sin, and Death, and the Law. He became the cursed slave for us.
Galatians 3:13. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”
Here then is the glory of God’s grace: It is God’s grace that he allows us to be redeemed. It is glorious grace that God would pay the price for all humanity himself. How? Through his blood.
By nature and deed we were in bondage to Sin. We were held in that bondage by the justice of God – he could not just set us free without payment. But the love of God could not stand to see us live eternally in that bondage. It is at the cross, through the blood of the Beloved, that God’s justice and God’s love are both eternally satisfied. The full price has been paid. There is no more left to do and no debt left to pay.
And the human race has been redeemed. Praise God!
This is the theology of redemption. But what does it mean for us?
Let’s face it, none of us is who we want to be. We all look in the mirror every day and wonder how God could love us. More often than not, we are not very good people. We are far from deserving.
But simply because he loves us we are redeemed.
There is no greater blessing in Christ than this freedom. We have redemption – present tense. You are no longer a prisoner. An act of true love has saved you.
Elsa’s redemption comes by an act of sacrificial love. Not only that, but her curse is redeemed into a gift for her kingdom by the transforming power of love.
The prison doors are open, but many of us are still tidying up our slave cells. We’ve bedazzled the unlocked shackles on our wrists. Why? Because we are afraid of our own freedom. We don’t know how to live without self-righteousness. We can’t imagine life without victimhood. Working hard all day to cover up our shame is what we do best. There’s a sort of spiritual Stockholm Syndrome happening between us and our addictions.
But you are no longer in bondage to your past. Your personality. Your addiction. Your guilt. Your shame. You have been set free by the death of Christ but also by the indwelling resurrection life of Christ. You are not just redeemed FROM sin and death, you are redeemed TO righteousness and life. His life. Imago Dei. Now we are finally free to be all that God has made us to be. Free to love and care and feel and worship. The doors are open. The sea is split. Start walking.
How? By giving up.
The great paradox of the gospel is that we have been redeemed from sin to be enslaved to God. This means that freedom is experienced by our dying. By our giving up. Giving up on all our self-salvation schemes. Giving up on our attempts to manage our image. Giving up on the comfort of our shame, regret, and secret pleasures. It is in this dying that freedom is found, that our redemption is experienced, and our lives are made whole.
Purchased by God, possessed by God, in the presence of God, experiencing the pleasures of God…right now. This is the redeemed life. This is “to live is Christ.”