The Redemption Price
In Him we have redemption through His blood, (7a)
The price of redemption is His blood. It cost the blood of the Son of God to buy men back from the slave market of sin (cf. Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22).
Shedding of blood is a metonym for death, which is the penalty and the price of sin. Christ’s own death, by the shedding of His blood, was the substitute for our death. That which we deserved and could not save ourselves from, the beloved Savior, though He did not deserve it, took upon Himself. He made payment for what otherwise would have condemned us to death and hell.
The blood of sacrificial animals was continually offered on the altars of the Tabernacle and then the Temple. But that blood was never able, and was never intended, to cleanse the offerers from sin. Those animals were only symbolic, typical substitutes. As the writer of Hebrews explains, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). But in the shedding of His blood, “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (10:10). He “gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:2). The Savior Himself said that His blood was “poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). As the writer of Hebrews explains, Christ’s sacrifice was “not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:12–14).
We “were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold … but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18–19). No wonder John saw the four living creatures and the twenty–four elders singing, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Rev. 5:8–10).
The “redemption which is in Christ Jesus … in His blood through faith” (Rom. 3:24–25) has paid the price for those enslaved by sin, bought them out of the slave market where they were in bondage, and set them free as liberated sons of God. In their freedom they are in union with Jesus Christ and receive every good thing that He is and has. His death frees believers from sin’s guilt, condemnation, bondage, power, penalty, and—some glorious day—even from its presence.
The Redemptive Results
the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, (7b–9a)
Redemption involves every conceivable good thing, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (v. 3). But here Paul focuses on two especially important aspects. One is negative, the forgiveness of our trespasses, and the other is positive, wisdom and insight.
Forgiveness. The primary result of redemption for the believer is forgiveness, one of the central salvation truths of both the Old and New Testaments. It is also the dearest truth to those who have experienced its blessing. At the Last Supper, Jesus explained to the disciples that the cup He then shared with them was His “blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Redemption brings forgiveness.
Behaviorists and those from some other schools of psychology maintain that we cannot be blamed for our sin, that it is the fault of our genes, our environment, our parents, or something else external. But a person’s sin is his own fault, and the guilt for it is his own. The honest person who has any understanding of his own heart knows that.
The gospel does not teach, as some falsely maintain, that men have no sin or guilt, but rather that Christ will take away both the sin and the guilt of those who trust Him. As Paul told the Jews in Pisidian Antioch, “Through Him [Christ] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things” (Acts 13:38–39).
Israel’s greatest holy day was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On that day the high priest selected two unblemished sacrificial goats. One goat was killed, and his blood was sprinkled on the altar as a sacrifice. The high priest placed his hands on the head of the other goat, symbolically laying the sins of the people on the animal. The goat was then taken out deep into the wilderness, so far that it could never find its way back. In symbol the sins of the people went with the goat, never to return to them again (Lev. 16:7–10).
But that enactment, beautiful and meaningful as it was, did not actually remove the people’s sins, as they well knew. It was but a picture of what only God Himself in Christ could do. As mentioned above, aphiēmi (from which forgiveness comes) basically means to send away. Used as a legal term it meant to repay or cancel a debt or to grant a pardon. Through the shedding of His own blood, Jesus Christ actually took the sins of the world upon His own head, as it were, and carried them an infinite distance away from where they could never return. That is the extent of the forgiveness of our trespasses.
It is tragic that many Christians are depressed about their shortcomings and wrongdoing, thinking and acting as if God still holds their sins against them—forgetting that, because God has taken their sins upon Himself, they are separated from those sins “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12). They forget God’s promise through Isaiah that one day He would wipe out the transgressions of believers “like a thick cloud” and their “sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me,” He said, “for I have redeemed you” (Isa. 44:22). Even before the Messiah came and paid the price for redemption, God spoke of it as already having taken place. Depressed Christians forget that God looked down the corridors of time even before He fashioned the earth and placed the sins of His elect on the head of His Son, who took them an eternal distance away. He dismissed our sins before we were born, and they can never return.
Hundreds of years before Calvary, Micah proclaimed, “Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:18–19).
To ancient Israel the distance from east to west and “the depths of the sea” represented infinity. God’s forgiveness is infinite; it takes away our trespasses to the farthest reaches of eternal infinity.
In Shakespeare’s King Richard III (5.3.194) the king laments,
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
That is not true of Christians. When Jesus comes into our lives as Savior and Lord, He says to us what He said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way” (John 8:11). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:1–2).
Forgiveness in Jesus Christ is undeserved, but it is free and it is complete. Those who have Him have freedom from sin, now and throughout eternity. In Christ our sins—past, present, and future—“are forgiven … for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12; cf. Eph. 4:32; Col. 2:13). They were forgiven countless ages before we committed them and will remain forgiven forever.
Because we continue to sin, we need the continued forgiveness of cleansing; but we do not need the continued forgiveness of redemption. Jesus told Peter, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean” (John 13:10). Even though we continue to sin, Jesus “is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). He forgives all our sins in the sweeping grace of salvation. That does not mean we will no longer sin, nor that when we do our sins have no harmful effect. They have a profound effect on our growth, joy, peace, usefulness, and ability to have intimate and rich communion with the Father. Thus the believer is called on to ask for forgiveness daily so that he may enjoy not just the general forgiveness of redemption, but the specific forgiveness of daily cleansing, which brings fellowship and usefulness to their maximum. That is the issue in our Lord’s teaching on prayer recorded in Matthew 6:12, 14–15.
There are no second class Christians, no deprived citizens of God’s kingdom or children in His family. Every sin of every believer is forgiven forever. God knows how we were, how we now live, and how we will live the rest of our lives. He sees everything about us in stark–naked reality. Yet He says, “I am satisfied with you because I am satisfied with My Son, to whom you belong. When I look at you, I see Him, and I am pleased.”
Because God accepts every believer as He accepts His own Son, every believer ought to accept himself in the same way. We do not accept ourselves for what we are in ourselves any more than God accepts us for that reason. We accept ourselves as forgiven and as righteous because that is what God Himself declares us to be. To think otherwise is not a sign of humility but of arrogance, because to think otherwise is to put our own judgment above God’s Word and to belittle the redemption price paid for us by His own beloved Son. A Christian who denigrates himself and doubts full forgiveness denies the work of God and denigrates a child of God. If we matter to God, we certainly ought to matter to ourselves.
A person may have many friends in high places. He may know presidents, kings, governors, senators, and world leaders of every sort. But such friendships pale beside that of the most obscure Christian, who not only is a friend but a child of the Creator of the universe.
Philip Bliss wrote,
I am so glad that our Father in heav’n
Tells of His love in the Book He has giv’n.
Wonderful things in the Bible I see;
This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.
Oh, if there’s only one song I can sing,
When in His beauty I see the Great King,
This shall my song in eternity be:
“Oh, what a wonder that Jesus loves me!”
The vastness and comprehensiveness of our forgiveness is seen in Paul’s statement that it is according to the riches of His grace. God’s grace—like His love, holiness, power, and all His other attributes—is boundless. It is far beyond our ability to comprehend or describe, yet we know it is according to the riches of that infinite grace that He provides forgiveness.
If you were to go to a multimillionaire and ask him to contribute to a worthy ministry, and he gave you a check for twenty–five dollars, he would only be giving out of his riches. Many poor people give that much. But if, instead, he gave you a check for fifty thousand dollars, he would be giving according to his riches.
That is a small picture of God’s generosity. His forgiveness not only is given according to the riches of His grace but is lavished upon us. We need never worry that our sin will outstrip God’s gracious forgiveness. “Where sin increased,” Paul assures us, “grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). Our heavenly Father does not simply give us subsistence forgiveness that will barely cover our sins if we are careful not to overdo. We cannot sin beyond God’s grace, because as wicked and extensive as our sins might be or become, they will never approach the greatness of His grace. His forgiveness is infinite, and He lavishes it without measure upon those who trust in His Son. We therefore not only can enjoy future glory with God but present fellowship with Him as well.
Wisdom and Insight. The second result of redemption for the believer is his being given wisdom and insight. Sophia (wisdom) emphasizes understanding of ultimate things—such as life and death, God and man, righteousness and sin, heaven and hell, eternity and time. Paul is speaking of wisdom concerning the things of Coot, Phronēsis (insight), on the other hand, emphasizes practical understanding, comprehension of the needs, problems, anti principles of everyday living. It is spiritual prudence in the handling of daily affairs.
God not only forgives us—taking away the sin that corrupts and distorts our lives—but also gives us all the necessary equipment to understand Him and to walk through the world day by day in a way that reflects His will and is pleasing to Him. He generously gives us the wherewithal both to understand His Word and to know how to obey it.
In Jesus Christ, God takes us into His confidence. “We do speak wisdom among those who are mature,” Paul said; it is “a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory. … Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:6–7, 12). He concluded that amazing passage by declaring, “we have the mind of Christ” (v. 16).
The French philosopher André Maurois said, “The universe is indifferent. Who created it? Why are we on this puny mud–heap, spinning in infinite space? I have not the slightest idea, and I am convinced that no one has the least idea.”
It is not surprising that those who do not even recognize that God exists, much less trust and serve Him, do not have the least idea of what life, the universe, and eternity are all about. Jesus said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes” (Matt. 11:25). James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). When God takes away sin, He does not leave us in a spiritual, moral, and mental vacuum where we must then work things out for ourselves. He lavishes wisdom and insight on us according to the riches of His grace just as He lavishes forgiveness on us according to those riches.
MacArthur New Testament Commentary