Redemption according to dictionary.com means:
- an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.
- deliverance; rescue.
- deliverance from sin; salvation.
- atonement for guilt.
- repurchase, as of something sold.
- paying off, as of a mortgage, bond, or note.
I doubt I will ever tire of the incredible truth that is contained within the meaning of the word ‘redemption’. Redemption is truly an amazing thing!
Consider for a moment the reality that everyone one of us, without exception, have made mistakes in our lives; we’ve all done things we feel guilty about; we’ve all made choices that led down a path that ended up costing us something or requiring us to deal with issues. No one reading this can claim they haven’t needed to be redeemed at times in their life…multiple times in their life.
We are all equal in this sense, no matter what specific mistakes or poor choices we have made.
We are also equal in the sense that we have all been offered complete redemption full and free. No one person has been offered it more or less than another. When Christ came to this earth and died on the cross to pay for our sins (redemption), he died equally for all. That is because God loves everyone equally. We were all created in his image as humans, and thus we all have value in God’s eyes.
Even those we don’t agree with or who don’t care about God? Yes. God loves them as much as he does everyone else. Because the truth is, we are all equally sinful, whether we love God or don’t care about him.
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)
We are all equally sinful, and we are all equally loved by God.
“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 3:16-17)
God desires to have a relationship with all, no exceptions.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
However, it can be easy to change our mindset once we or someone else becomes a believer. We can allow our mindset to shift from “everyone needs to be redeemed because we are all sinners in need of a savior” to something like “if we are a believer, then we must live our life perfectly for God and not make any major mistakes, or else we’ll forever deal with the consequences.”
It’s as if we allow the Gospel message to change a bit once we’ve accepted it. Before we or someone else accepts it, the focus is on God’s grace and love and mercy and redemption…but after it’s been accepted, we can begin to focus more on discipline and judgment and being forever marked by mistakes.
Redemption, God’s redemption that he offers us, does not change once we choose to believe in him. It remains just as beautiful and amazing and incredible as it ever was. It remains the same because God does not change (Hebrews 13:8) as well as because we are still humans who make mistakes, and God knows that.
What changes is that we now have received God’s INCREDIBLE forgiveness…his redemption…for our sins. And not just the sins we’ve already committed, but every sin we have or will ever commit; past, present, and in the future.
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. (Hebrews 7:26-27)
Once for all. Done. Finished. All is forgiven. Yea, we still need to repent of our sin so that we can stay in a good relationship with God, because when we sin we hurt our relationship with him…but it doesn’t mean we aren’t forgiven of that sin. When Christ died on the cross and paid for our sin, he redeemed all of our sin for all time. All we must do is accept it.
Sometimes I think we struggle with this, because we think certain sins should have consequences that last a lifetime, or that certain mistakes are supposed to forever mark a person. We can struggle to not put limits on God’s redemption as humans.
It’s as if we have decided that there are certain sins that are worse than others. If those select sins are committed, then the person who committed that sin will forever be marked by it. Their identity changes from “a child of Christ” to ” a child of Christ who did ______ (fill in the blank).”
We can do that to others, or we can do it to ourselves. Sometimes we think that we or someone else who has a certain mistake in their background can’t serve within the church anymore, or can’t move on in their life in certain areas. Even after they have obviously repented and have shown faithfulness to God, it’s easy to think that certain things in a person’s background will define them forever.
Does sin have a consequence? Absolutely. Will certain sins have more lasting effects than others in this life? Of course. There are always consequences and effects of sin, that fact should not be minimized or forgotten. But it also shouldn’t lead us to place limitations on God’s redemption.
Redemption requires us to show complete and full grace to ourselves or others, despite their sin and its consequences in their lives, and that isn’t natural for us. That’s why redemption can sometimes be difficult for us. We are much better at looking down on or condemning. Showing grace takes work. But showing grace and redemption is the right thing to do; looking down on and condemning is the wrong thing to do.
We love to read Paul’s letters in the New Testament. God used him mightily to share some amazing truths in His Word. Paul, the same guy who was originally named Saul and was a murderer of Christians. If redemption is limited by our past mistakes, then God should have never used him, or given him a second chance like he did.
David did a lot of great things and showed over and over that he truly loved God. He also committed adultery, and then tried to cover it up by orchestrating the death of the husband of the woman he committed adultery with. Yet we still love to read the Psalms he wrote, and he is still called a man after God’s own heart.
Peter was completely sold out for Jesus…until he sold out Jesus three times. Yet Jesus himself restored him, knowing that Peter sold him out and denied him, and God used him to bring thousands and thousands to Christ while starting the early church.
Rahab was a prostitute who helped the Israelite spies when they were preparing to attack and overthrow Jericho, and in return God spared her and her families lives. Not only that, Rahab is listed in the lineage of Jesus…that’s right, a prostitute is in the line of Jesus.
If the God we serve today is the same God of the Bible, why would we ever assume that God’s redemption for people today is different from his redemption for people back then?
Here’s the bottom line. Either we believe in complete redemption or we don’t. Either God can redeem us and use us despite our sin and mistakes, or he can’t.
God is a God of redemption. Don’t let yourself try to limit it, even if it’s difficult to accept or we can’t fully understand it. Accept it, be thankful for it, embrace it, show it, and live in the freedom that comes from it.
May we learn to be defined as children of God, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and able to live our life to the fullest for God’s glory. May we place that same definition on all who are Followers of Christ, both ourselves and others, rather than being defined by their past mistakes.