Lord of Our Past

Lord of Our Past

Text: 1 Peter 1:17-19 — … conduct yourselves with fear (a deep respect and reverence for God) throughout the time of your exile (i.e. sojourning – we are only passing through this world because our citizenship is in heaven), 18 knowing that you were ransomed (redeemed) from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers (the worldly wisdom handed down from generation to generation), not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Introduction: During my thirty-plus years of ministry, I have talked with many Christians who carried a great burden of guilt over past offenses they committed. Just like many of us, they had done things to others that had caused great emotional pain and in some cases, had long-term detrimental effects on them. As a result, these believers were riddled with self-blame and had no idea how to get rid of it.
I also encountered some Christ-followers who understood that their past sins had been atoned for by the shed blood of Christ on the cross. They knew they were forgiven – (God remembers our sins no more against us — Hebrews 10:17). Unfortunately, some of these same people never experienced victory over past sins despite the fact that Scripture teaches we are new creatures in Christ (See 2 Corinthians 5:17). Oh, I suspect at least a few of them had read in Romans 6 that we have been raised with Christ to new life, and maybe even shared this truth with others. Sadly, however, they never really experienced that reality for themselves. In fact, if they were honest about it, these individuals would have to admit that life in Christ has not brought them peace, joy and victory, but frustration and anger as they find they’re still enslaved to the very things for which our Lord died to set mankind free. If either of these situations describes you even a little bit, I have some good news for you this morning. In our eleventh message in the preaching series, “The Lordship of Jesus Christ,” we’re going to discover how Jesus deals with our past failures by becoming our Redeemer.
In previous messages, we’ve learned that calling Jesus our Savior means that He has rescued us from the wages of sin, which of course is death (See Romans 6:23). When we call Him Lord, we’re saying that He is our master, our owner, our ruler. The title redeemer is also packed with meaning. It refers to the price that Jesus paid to ransom us from the curse of the law. Galatians 3:11-13 explains it like this …  If anyone does not continually do everything written in the book of the Law, He is under God’s curse. And the only way to be delivered from that curse is by faith in Jesus as our Redeemer. In a sense, Jesus is the currency God had to spend to deliver us from sin and darkness and bring us into the Kingdom of heaven. There simply was nothing else that God could offer but the life of His Son.
Let me illustrate this for you: When I was a kid, before anyone really talked about cigarettes being the leading cause of lung cancer, both of my parents smoked. My dad puffed away on a brand called Raleigh. My siblings and I were young, so we weren’t tempted to smoke, but we really wanted the coupon on the back of the pack, because if you acquired enough of them, they could be used to purchase all kinds of cool things. The wording said something like, “Collect and redeem these coupons for exciting gifts and prizes.” To us, those coupons were like getting free money to buy things that we didn’t need but wanted nonetheless. Here was the catch. You couldn’t redeem these gifts with cash or stocks of bonds or any other kind of legal tender recognized by the United States government, but only with Raleigh coupons. The only way you could purchase anything they offered was by trading coupons for them. The coupons were the only currency acceptable to the sellers of Raleigh cigarettes. NOW LET’S TRANSLATE THIS TO OUR STUDY FOR THIS MORNING. WHEN IT COMES TO OUR REDEMPTION, THE SAME THING CAN BE SAID OF JESUS CHRIST.  HE IS THE ONLY CURRENCY THAT GOD ACCEPTS AS PAYMENT FOR OUR SIN. THERE SIMPLY IS NO OTHER.
·      A definition of redemption. In the ancient world, men, women and children were routinely bought and sold into slavery. Some became slaves because they were born into it, others because they owed a great debt to someone that they could not repay and still others because they were captured by an invading army and forced into it. As best as I can tell, there were only two ways that a slave could be set free. On rare occasions, a slave could acquire enough money to purchase his own freedom. In other words, he could redeem himself. Most of the time, however, the only hope a slave had for being redeemed was if someone took pity upon him and paid the price for him. There are at least three words in the New Testament that are used for redemption. (1) Agorazo — It comes from a word that refers to an open area like a market, as in a place to buy a slave. (2) Exagorazo – It’s a stronger form of the first word and refers to purchasing someone out of slavery. (3) Lutron – it refers to a ransom paid for someone. Put them together and you get something like this … A redeemer is someone who purchases another out of slavery by paying the ransom himself.
·      An illustration of redemption. Do you remember the story of Ruth and Boaz? A woman named Naomi moved with her husband from Bethlehem to a place called Moab. There her two sons married Moabite women (Orpah and Ruth). Tragically, all the men in the family died and the woman found themselves to be homeless. Orpah left to be with her family, but Ruth refused to abandon her mother-in-law. The two traveled together to back to their hometown of Bethlehem. Because they had no food, Naomi instructed Ruth to go to the fields of a blood relative named Boaz and glean from his crops enough food for the two of them to survive. When Boaz saw Ruth, he immediately wanted to take her as his own wife, but the only way for him to do it was to redeem both of the women since they were members of his family. Since he wasn’t the closest relative, he had to purchase from the closest relative the right to take them out of poverty. He was willing and became their kinsman-redeemer. In the Old Testament, there were four conditions that had to be met to become a kinsman-redeemer for someone. (1) He had to be a blood relative; (2) He had to reach an agreement with all the parties involved; (3) He had to be able to pay the price; (4) He had to be willing.  THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT JESUS IS OUR KINSMAN REDEEMER. He is one of us because He became flesh and dwelt among us; He is the mediator between God and man; He could pay the price because He was without sin, and He was willing. All you have to do is look at the cross to see that.
·      Three truths regarding redemption. In our text, Peter wants us to be aware of three important truths that lead to Jesus being our Redeemer.
o   We were all by nature slaves to sin (1 Peter 1:18 — …knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers). This is talking about all the wasted effort that mankind, including those who have come before us, has put forth to make ourselves acceptable to God. No matter how hard any of us has worked, it has never changed our status as those in need of being redeemed. We came into this world in need of redemption and nothing we could do would be capable of ransoming ourselves from slavery to sin. Some people doubt that we are born into this world with a nature that serves sin. It is not difficult, however, to prove otherwise. Think about it. When you were a child, did your parents have to teach you to do wrong or right? They spent countless hours teaching and disciplining us so that we would resist our sinful urges and do what is right. That’s because we are all by nature slaves to sin.
o   No perishable thing is able to redeem us (1 Peter 1:18 — knowing that you were ransomed … not with perishable things such as silver or gold). Nothing that is itself perishing is able to redeem us from sin. And what is perishing according to the Bible? Well, I can think of at least two things. In this text, we’re told it is money…that’s what is meant by silver or gold? Because our wealth is not meant for eternity, we cannot expect that it can ransom us. It is just as corrupted as our human bodies which will not be in heaven. We will get new resurrected bodies. In the same way, no one will take their wealth with them into heaven for it is not meant to last forever. We’re also told that man is perishing according to the Bible (Romans 1:22-23 — Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal (lit. corruptible … as in perishing) man and birds and animals and reptiles). This means that no other human being is capable of redeeming us from sin because all of us are in the process of dying because of our sin. “For the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23. This brings us to his third point.
o   Jesus had to pay the ransom by shedding His blood for our sin (1 Peter 1:18-19 — … knowing that you were ransomed … with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot). Jesus is the unique God-man. He is God and shares His nature as the exact representation of His being(John 10:30). He is also a man in every sense that we are except that He is without sin. He was never corrupted by sin as we are and therefore did not have to die for His own sin. This made it possible for Him to take the death intended for us by dying on the cross. This is how He paid the ransom to redeem us. He shed His blood for us. We are washed in His blood! Illustration: When Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ was released in Italy, the review board gave it a “G” rating. Some parents objected, saying the movie was too violent for children to watch. But the reaction of Italian author Riccardo Zucconi, quoted in USA Today, said more about theology than parenting. He refused to allow his children to see the film, in his words, “because I want them to have this idea of the spirituality of Christ, not this idea of debauchery. The soul of Jesus is important, not his body.” The writer preferred to have his son watch a 30-year-old film, The Gospel According to Matthew. “That film is very deep,” he said, “and you don’t see a drop of blood.” Zucconi planned to see the movie himself, however, “I think sometimes I will shut my eyes to preserve myself from all this blood,” he said. This reaction says much about the contemporary response to the Crucifixion: People want the spirit of Jesus, without the Incarnation; the death without the pain; the sacrifice without the blood. But without the body, the pain, and the blood, the Crucifixion is meaningless. Sacrifice cannot be sanitized. Sacrifice has always been bloody. That’s the point. (Eric Reed, Wheaton, Illinois; source: USA Today (4-6-04). It’s how Jesus ransomed us from sin.
·      Four applications of redemption.
o   Because Jesus redeemed us, we are forgiven of our sins. Our debt is paid in full. It is not a debt of sin, but a debt of righteousness. Because God is our creator, we owe Him our undivided love and complete obedience. When we sin, we rob Him of our love and obedience and in the process incur a debt that now needs to be redeemed. That’s why Jesus had to die on the cross. The Bible says that God made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. God took our sin and placed it on Christ who met all the requirements to become our redeemer. Then He took the righteousness of Christ and placed it on us. This means that no matter what you’ve done in the past, we are completely forgiven because Christ has paid the price. Application: Have you hurt others with your words? Have you been violent toward people? Have you been involved in sexual activity that you’re now ashamed of? Have you had an abortion? Have you abandoned those you love? Have you broken promises you made and intended to keep? It doesn’t matter. It’s all been paid for by the blood of Jesus. You are forgiven. And get this! Not only are you forgiven for the sins you have committed, but you’re also forgiven for the sins you will commit. Jesus’ death is the currency God charges for redemption. When we place our faith in Him, we are totally and eternally forgiven.
o   Because Jesus redeemed us, we are no longer slaves to sin. Earlier in 1 Peter (1:16), believers are commanded to “be holy as I (God) am holy.” The reason God can issue such a command is because Jesus has redeemed us from the power of sin, not merely its penalty. Sin no longer has dominion over us. We are now free to be holy people as unto God. What this means for us is this: If we’re believers and we’re still living in slavery to sin in any form, something is not right. God never makes allowances or resigns Himself to the fact that Christians are going to have to settle for sin. In fact, He says, “Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Listen…if you’re struggling this morning with habitual sin that robs you of joy and purpose in your Christian life, I want you to know that Jesus’ death was meant to set you free. And by humble confession and repentance of sin and dependence upon the Holy Spirit, you have the ability to walk in the footsteps of Christ who always does what pleases His Father. If you would like to talk to me about this, I will not share it with anyone and I will help you reposition yourself to draw upon the strength of God to overcome any temptation in your life.
o   Because Jesus redeemed us, we know we have great value to God. This is clearly not because of who we are, but because of the price Jesus paid to purchase us. Here’s a thought for you: Something is only ever worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. In our case, Jesus paid the price by sacrificing His life for each one of us. There is nothing that God could have offered to demonstrate just how much he values each of us.
o   Because Jesus redeemed us, we cannot possibly be in a better position with God. Any attempt on our part to gain further approval or forgiveness from God is futile. We are citizens of heaven, children of God and co-heirs with Christ. That was decided for us the moment we placed our faith in Jesus.
Conclusion: In a sermon by Philip Griffin called A God Who Redeems, he tells the following story: During the early days of our church plant in Texas we were baptizing lots of people so we brought in a small indoor swimming pool. There were about 30 people who were planning to be baptized. But just before the service we realized that we didn’t have a hose. We had a leaky one at home, so I asked other staff members, but no one had a hose. So, I decided to go buy one. As I was leaving to get the hose, a guy named John stopped me and said, “I’m glad I caught you, pastor. I need to talk to you.” I tried to have a conversation with him as I kept aiming for my car, but he said, “No, I need to talk in private.” So, when we got to my office, he said, “I want to know if you’re for real.” I had been talking about how God says to each and every one of us that there is nothing we can do or say to make him not love us. He doesn’t always love our behavior, but he loves us. I told John, “Absolutely, it’s for real.” He said, “Well, I’m struggling with homosexual desires and behavior. I’m in and out of gay relationships. I understand what the Bible says, and I want to do what God wants me to do—but I’m losing this battle. Several months ago, I tried to go to another church, but when I came clean with my struggles, they told me never to come back again. So, I want to know if you’re for real.” We stayed and talked, and I connected him with a ministry that helps people battling same-sex attraction. I also connected him with one of our church’s small groups, which ended up embracing him. Before he left my office, he said, “Now I want to tell you one more thing.” At this point I’m thinking, I’m not going to have time to get the hose. “When I pulled into the parking lot today, I wasn’t aiming my car in this direction. I was going to kill myself.” When I asked John if he had a plan for ending his life, he said, “Yes, I did. It was already in motion. I went to the hardware store and bought a garden hose earlier today, and I bought some duct tape. My plan was to drive down this little rural road and tape the hose to my muffler and feed it into my car window.” I said, “John, for real, you bought a hose?” I got a glimpse of redemption that day. I saw John cross the line of faith and let Christ put his feet on a different path. And I saw God take something that was intended for death—that hose—and use it to fill up something that means life—the baptismal pool. John is a great example of the power of redemption. Jesus ransomed him from the wages of sin … death … and from the power of sin. That day he was set free to live as God intended.