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“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)
“…the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:14-15)
Jesus says everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Sadly, that is every single one of us. Our sinful nature has completely mastered us, and no matter how hard we try, we will never gain mastery over it by ourselves. We cannot set ourselves free from sin nor can we redeem ourselves from its penalty–death and hell. But thank God for Jesus Christ, the one who came to save us and redeem us from our sins!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Jesus came to ransom us from our sins and their penalty. As our substitute, he lived the perfectly righteous life none of us could live, then he paid the full punishment for our sins by dying on the cross for us.
In order to be freed from our sins and their penalty, we must appropriate that ransom Jesus paid for us through faith. We must repent (confess and turn away) from our sins and trust in Jesus as our personal Savior. (See “Message“)
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, [as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin] through faith in his blood.” (Romans 3:23-25)
The word “justified” (in the Scripture above) means that God judicially declares us “not guilty” in his eyes and accredits righteousness (right being, and therefore, right standing with God) to us. At the moment we believe and receive Jesus as our Savior and accept him as our Ransom, all of our sins are punished in him and all of his perfect righteousness (and right standing with God) is imputed to us. That is the meaning of “justification”, and it only comes by believing in Jesus (and not by doing good works, see Romans 4).
Though this may seem “unfair” for God to “justify” guilty sinners, it is fair because Jesus has died as our ransom. In fact, this is the whole reason why he came to earth. Jesus said of himself: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28).
In that same Scripture (Romans 3:23-25) the word “redemption” is “A word taken from the slave market–the basic idea is that of obtaining release by payment of a ransom. [The apostle] Paul [in his letter to the Romans] uses this word to refer to release from guilt, with its liability for judgment, and to deliverance from slavery to sin, because Christ in his death paid the ransom to set us free.” (Taken from the study notes on Romans 3:24 of the New International Version (NIV) Study Bible (1984), Zondervan, www.zondervan.com).
“Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” (Psalm 107:10-16)