The believers in the early church belonged to three social groups. Slaves, former slaves, and people who were born free. Slaves in the Roman Empire were always not slaves. They were forced into slavery by the circumstances of life. By the time the New Testament Church was formed however the slave community of Rome consisted mostly of people that were born into slavery.
Like any human being, slaves also desired to be free. Therefore at times, they ran away from their masters, in search of everlasting freedom. According to Roman Law, however, a runaway slave was still a slave. Running away did not set him free. Not legally. In fact, he had to keep on running to avoid capture by his master and it was only a matter of time until he was captured. Under Roman law, a slave had to meet one out of three conditions in order to receive his freedom.
A. He was free if he repaid the money his master paid for him. (It’s ironic because slaves did not possess any money.)
B. He was free if his master voluntarily decided to set him free. (Also known as “Manumission”). Slave owners rarely released their slaves unless they were old and too weak to work anymore. Such slaves when freed, often died in the street due to starvation or sickness.
C. A slave was free to go if someone else bought him his freedom by paying the owner. This was known as “the act of redeeming”. Unfortunately, people rarely wanted to pay for someone else’s freedom. Sometimes the act of redemption was carried out with other ulterior motives in mind, which landed the slave in worse situations.
I shared these historical facts with you tonight because it’s a perfect analogy to explain the condition we suffered before we met Christ. All of us were slaves to the sinful nature we inherited from birth. We were slaves to its fruit until Christ came and died for us in an act of redemption. Tonight, in the light of these, I want to share with you 4 key truths about the redemption Christ offers us.
1. Religion cannot redeem Us
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the orchard. (Genesis 3:8 – NET)
The religious man is like the runaway slave. Perhaps religion can put a safe distance between a man and sin. But it cannot rid him of it. It’s only a matter of time before sin will catch up to him. Therefore religion cannot redeem us.
2. Good works can’t redeem Us
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind, our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 – NIV)
Religion teaches anyone can go to heaven if they are good. But being good is like the slave who wishes to buy his freedom. He can only wish because he doesn’t have money to do so. Likewise, the price of redemption is so high, that acts of righteousness are not enough. Therefore good works can’t redeem us either.
3. False saviors can’t redeem Us
Beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 – ESV)
According to Wikipedia, there are at least 450-500 known cults around the globe today. Cults vary from one to another. But the majority of them share two characteristics in common. First, the founders of these cults are self-proclaimed Messiahs. Second, they preach Jesus is not the savior. They preach lies and lies cannot redeem anyone but land us in far worse situations.
4. Only Jesus can redeem Us
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-18 – NIV)
For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:20 – NET)
In the ancient world, slaves were very expensive property. Hence anyone who wished to set a slave free paid a hefty price to the slave’s rightful owner thus carrying out the act of redemption. Sometimes the price paid was a lot more than the slave was worth.
Likewise, freedom from sin also requires an enormous price. The Bible calls it the blood of a sinless person. But nobody is sinless except Christ. Hence he suffered and died on a cross-carrying out the act of redemption needed for our freedom. Therefore redemption is found in nothing but Christ only.
We no longer need to be slaves on the run because Jesus has already paid the price and earned us our freedom. If you desire to be redeemed from being a slave to sin, please come forward and repeat this prayer after me.
I now confess to You all of the wrong and sinful things that I have ever done in my life. I ask that You please forgive me and wash away all of my sins by the blood that You have personally shed for me on the cross. I am now ready to accept You as my personal Lord and Savior. I now ask that You come into my life and live with me for all of eternity.
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