“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”
In Christ we have redemption. Paul could have written “through Christ”, but he uses the word “in”. We have to be “in Christ,” that is taken into His being, His person. We cannot stand back and let Christ do it at a distance, an agent, so to speak, of redemption. No, it is in Christ that we have redemption, in relationship with Him, close up and personal, sharing in His suffering and glory.
In Him we have redemption. The New Testament uses many words or analogies to illustrate or describe the atonement.
The word “redemption” in Greek means to be set free after payment. It was used to describe the setting free of slaves and the release of captives.
We were slaves to sin, but Christ redeemed us. We are no longer slaves to sin or to the devil. As Paul writes elsewhere, “you are no longer under obligation to sin.”
Before we came to Christ our entire existence was bound up in our sinful nature. We were born in sin, we lived in sin, and we would die in sin. People talk about free will as if doing good is an option. We were slaves to sin with no free will at all. Our programming always defaults to sin.
Because of our slavery to sin we were also slaves to satan. We could not please God through our own abilities, so were always serving satan. The brilliance of satan’s plan for humanity is that he has to do nothing, and we still do his bidding. He wins by default, or at least that was his plan.
But Jesus came and paid the ransom to set us free. We should not think that Jesus paid anything to satan or anyone else. This is only an analogy and it breaks down when we push the details too far.
So now those who are in Christ have been liberated, set free, released from captivity. Like the inmates of a concentration camp, the liberation army has come and set us free from a harsh regime whose only aim is to multiply suffering and death.
We were redeemed through Christ’s blood. That is the “ransom” or the slave price. The perfect blood of the sinless Son of God was poured out to redeem all who will receive His freedom.
In the Old Testament one blood sacrifice redeemed one sin for one sinner. Every sin had a price- a sheep, a calf, a dove. The price for sin was the blood of an animal.
The price for all sins is the blood, not of an animal, but of the Son of God Himself. God incarnate, in the flesh, is sacrificed as the perfect Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
There is no limit to the effectiveness of this blood, because it is of ultimate worth. This blood is worth the ransom of every sinner who has ever lived.
This redemption is the forgiveness of our sins. Our names have been taken from the Book of Death and transferred to the Book of Life. We have been reclassified as “not guilty” by God the Father. He sees that we are “in Christ”, that our sins have been covered over by the blood of Jesus, and He sees us as untainted by sin.
Forgiveness has two dimensions to it.
The first is a legal status. We have been found guilty of breaking the law. We are criminals in God’s eyes. But, on the basis of Christ’s death, the shedding of blood, we receive a full pardon. This is a declaration that we are not guilty. It is not that we have served our time and paid a price, and therefore earned our freedom. It is because the King sees fit to declare that we are not guilty and our sin is overlooked.
The second dimension of forgiveness is the relational side. God loves us so much that when we turn back to Him and receive His grace, He forgives us out of His love. The whole project of salvation is not a legal manoeuvre to get people out of trouble. Salvation is God’s love on display.
It pained God to see us so alienated, separated and distant from Him. He was determined to bridge the gap and bring us back into friendship with Him.
Forgiveness is about restoring a broken relationship. When we forgive someone, we choose to let go of the offence that we have suffered for the sake of a person we love. We might feel justified in feeling hurt, but we choose to release the offence and relieve the person of the burden of guilt.
Forgiveness is always an act of grace. It originates in the heart of the forgiver and demands no reparation or penalty.
We cannot force the person we have offended to forgive us. No plea, no payment, no promise is by itself sufficient. If the person we have offended is not willing to forgive then forgiveness will not happen.
Forgiveness is the price we are willing to pay to those who have hurt us. It is a reverse ransom in a way.
So God’s grace is shown by the fact that He is willing to forgive and has demonstrated that in giving up His own Son fir us.
Key points from this verse:
We have been redeemed in Christ
We were slaves to sin, but have been set free
Forgiveness is both a legal and a relational term
God’s longing for relationship with His people is so huge that He gave His one and only Son for our sake.