Do you know the difference between living for God rather than from God? I didn’t until after I was arrested. That night, God showed up in ways only He could have to pay my debts and literally take the handcuffs off of my life.
I had become undone at that moment because the reality of my situation and the reality of how Jesus paid my ransom on the cross paralleled each other until these two facts were woven into my heart.
Prior to this moment, I was trying so hard to prove my worth to God and others. This way of living had me hitting the ground on a dead run every morning.
I hustled to prove I was the best as a student, mother, wife, friend, employee, and everything in between.
It was my job to make my to-do list shine because I didn’t want anyone to see the dirty rags that enveloped my heart.
On the inside, I knew I wasn’t worthy of anyone or anything. I was a girl who made a lot of mistakes. I was the girl who made the woman at the well look good compared to my own life.
But then God taught me that I had nothing to prove because Jesus had paid my debts and He ransomed my heart!
Like me, if you belong to Jesus Christ, you are completely and eternally forgiven for all of your sins: In the past, present, and future. Jesus paid the highest price for you and forgives your debt to God as a free gift called grace.
Why Do We Need to be Ransomed?
If you look up the word “ransom” in the dictionary it says, “a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity, to deliver from sin, to free from captivity or punishment by paying a price” (Merriam-Webster).
A ransom is something that is paid to provide for the release of someone who is being held captive. The word ransom implies our need — to be rescued from captivity. Here’s our reality — any sin, no matter how great or small separates us from God.
Thus, begins the battle for the good of all! Just like the superhero box office movies that portray the battle between good and evil, these movies point to the grand story of One who came to rescue us and defeated the enemy — and each of us has become His reward!
But first, we have to travel all the way back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the fall of mankind. Our condition from the fall puts us into the bondage of sin, corruption, and death.
Because we disobeyed God, we became slaves to death and sin. The psalmists tell us that no man can rescue himself. Psalms 49 says, “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice . . .” (vv.7-8)
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and of or sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4).
Our Sin Required Payment
Before Jesus stepped onto the scene, God required atonement for our sins. Why? Because God is absolutely holy and demands holiness. We cannot give full holiness because of our sin propensity.
Throughout the books of the Old Testament — Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy —God’s requirements for sacrifices are found. Their sins would be passed onto an innocent animal that died in the place of that person.
Hebrews 9:12-15 provides the best explanation:
Once for all time he took blood into that Most Holy Place, but not the blood of goats and calves. He took his own blood, and with it he secured our salvation forever. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ritual defilement. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our hearts from deeds that lead to death so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, so that all who are invited can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.
Jesus — Our Hero
When Jesus arrived on this earth, He put the old laws of atonement for sins to rest. He came as a perfect man who led a sinless life as the Son of God to pay our debts. He paid our ransom to God because our sin violated God’s perfect justice.
Christ’s death paid that ransom and secured our release from our bondage to sin. In 1 Timothy 2:5-6, Paul writes, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”
John 3:16 is perhaps the best-known scripture that simply states why God did what He did and how our ransom was paid, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus followed up that astounding statement with this,
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18).
So, the beautiful paradox is this, we were saved from God by God. Our security from God’s wrath is found in Christ, Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
For further reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Audrey Popov
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.