(Drought, Australia, public domain)
By Spencer D Gear
Maybe it’s the nature of my employment, but I meet a lot of unhappy people. What really makes people happy? What causes so many people to be depressed and thinking of suicide? What causes marriages to bust up? Why do people choose to live in de facto relationships instead of marriage? Why is the rate of children with alleged ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) growing?
According to [neurologist Dr. Fred] Baughman, 500,000 children [in the USA] were diagnosed ADHD in 1985 and between 5 and 7 million were today.
”University of Queensland figures show that legal use of dexamphetamine in Australia has risen from 8.3 million tablets prescribed in 1984 to 38.4 million tablets in 2001. Over the same period Ritalin prescriptions rose from 1.5 million tablets to 19.3 million.
Isn’t that alarming?
According to the Australian census in 2001, of people aged 15 years and over, there were 951,500 de facto relationships (in round figures: about a million people living as defactos). This was a rise of 28% from 1996.
It should not be surprising, then, that marriage rates dropped by half between 1976 and 2001. There are approximately 50,000 divorces a year now in Australia. Do you know how many divorces we had in 1901, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics? 398. There were 12,947 in 1971, but the floodgates opened with the Family Law Act of 1975 which took effect in 1976 (when there were 63,230 divorces).
Each year in Australia, approximately 2,500 people – roughly seven a day – resort to [the] tragic option [of suicide] in a desperate bid to end their pain and suffering. This is higher than rates in the USA and the United Kingdom . . .
It has been estimated that for every person who completes suicide, there are another 20 to 100 more attempts . . .
For both males and females, there has been a shift in suicide death rates from older to younger age groups. This is shown by an increase in the suicide rate among adolescents and young adults, and a fall in the suicide rate for people aged 55 years and over. The peak age for attempted suicide is now in the early 20s for males and the early 30s for females.”
What’s the solution to this increasing rate of gloominess and unrighteousness? I don’t believe the answer can be found in legalising prostitution, decriminalising illicit drugs, making divorce easier and promoting sexual immorality through defacto relationships, or in prescribing more dexamphetamine when there is no biological cause of ADHD.
This passage from I Peter is dynamic in showing us one of the most profound ways to bring lasting change for rebellious youth, depression (that is other than biological), family breakdown, materialism, suicide and other darkness.
1. First, “we deserve to die as the penalty for sin.” Heb. 9:26 states, “Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” We needed a sacrifice for our sins.
2. Second, “we deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin.” I John 4:10 reads, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (ESV). We needed propitiation (somebody to appease the wrath of God against us sinners).
3. Third, “we are separated from god by our sins.” 2 Cor. 5:18-19, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” We needed reconciliation with God and Christ’s death provided that.
4. Fourth, “we are in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan.” 1 John 5:19, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” Through Christ’s death, Heb. 2:15 tells us that Christ died to “deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (ESV).
We needed redemption — to be set free from lifelong slavery to sin. When we turn to I Peter 1:18-21, we discover that
II. Salvation means you are bought back from an empty way of life (vv. 18-19)
How can this be? It’s because we are dealing with the core of the problem and not just external behaviour. What am I saying? Just look at the text in v. 18, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers . . .”
A. Salvation through Christ means you have been ransomed/redeemed
We don’t understand this language much these days because we don’t come from a culture of slavery – for which we should praise the Lord. However, we do understand the “redeemed” language in terms of these kinds of contexts:
· “I redeemed myself when I painted the bedroom walls,” meaning: I made up for the lousy job I did last time. Or:
· “I redeemed myself and I’m now the manager again.” Or,
· “I redeem my mortgage.” I pay it off.
· I sell my watch to Cash Converters (or any pawnshop) and when I have the cash I go and buy it back – I redeem it.
· I don’t have many redeeming features. There’s nothing much good about my characteristics.
But these examples are not the exact concepts of what the Bible means when it speaks about this wonderful redemption we receive at salvation.
1. What is the Meaning of Redemption?
What does the Bible mean when it says that a person has been redeemed or ransomed? In the OT,
· God redeemed his people from the yoke of slavery in Egypt (Ex. 6:6). How did he do this? By sending 10 plagues on Israel’s enemies.
Redemption has to do with “deliverance from some evil or bondage
by payment of a price or ransom.” In the OT law, “the owner of a dangerous [bull] could be executed if the animal gored someone to death, but he could redeem his life by paying a ransom [see Ex. 21:30].”
This concept is used in Mark’s Gospel to describe the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
The NT word for this costly redemption [from lutroÇ = I set free, redeem, rescue] is found only in 10 places. There’s another word meaning “simply deliverance without a price being paid. The price is Christ’s shed blood (Eph. 1:7; cf. 1 Cor. 16:19f.)”
In the NT, the verb “to redeem” is found only in 3 passages:
· First, in Luke 24:21, “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.” This was on the road to Emmaus and the risen Jesus was drawing near to those disciples.
· Second, in Titus 2:13-14, “while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
· Third, here in I Peter 1:18, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.”
The Christian response to this gracious provision is to live a life of service to Christ, which means not submitting again to the life of slavery of sin. Gal. 5:1 puts it this way: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
We must understand that the Bible tells us our real condition as human beings in the world and before God:
Rom. 6:6, could not state it more clearly. Before we submitted to Christ’s rule in our lives, we were “Slaves to sin.” John 8:34, “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.'”
Rom. 6:23 confirms that the wages we earn from such sin is death.
Titus 3:3, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”
But it gets worse . . .
Eph. 2:5 confirms that all of us, before coming to Christ, were not only enslaved by sin but also we “were dead in transgressions.”
This is the true state of all human beings. This is one of the major problems facing our society. We will not acknowledge the true state of all human beings. This is God’s view of what we are like before him. God’s description of ALL unbelievers is that we are “dead in transgressions/sin” and are “slaves of sin.”
My counselling colleagues could say things like: You have a low self-esteem that needs to be elevated. It’s your co-dependency that is keeping you bound. Or, you need to recover from your alcoholic disease; you need a “higher power,” but you need this special group of us, recovering alcoholics, to help your recovery, but you are always an alcoholic.
This is also one of the defining ways a church can be discerned to be truly biblical in its ministry. When you go to any church, ask them what their views are about the nature of human beings. Do they proclaim that all unbelievers are slaves of sin and are dead in sin? One of the sad notes for me in this seeker-sensitive emphasis in so many churches is that they dumb down the people of God and unbelievers who come to that church on how radically sinful we are before we come to Christ.
How can “slaves of sin” be set free? By being redeemed from sin. Somebody needs to pay the ransom for us.
For a wonderful understanding of redemption and the price that must be paid to win us back from sin, read one of the minor prophets, Hosea. It is based on the marriage of Hosea to Gomer, his wife. His wife was unfaithful to him and the marriage looked like a human disaster.
“But it was a special marriage from God’s viewpoint. God had told Hosea that the marriage would work out in that fashion but he nevertheless told Hosea to go through with it in order to provide an illustration of God’s love. God loved the people whom he had taken to himself [the Israelites] even when they proved unfaithful by committing spiritual adultery with the world and its values. The marriage was to be a pageant. Hosea was to play the part of God. His wife would play the part of unfaithful Israel. She would be unfaithful, but the wilder she got, the more Hosea would love her. That is the way God loves us even when we run away from him and dishonor him.
At the beginning of this small book of the Bible, Hosea described God’s commission:
When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.’ So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son (Hosea 1:2-3).
The climax of Hosea’s relationship with Gomer was when she fell into slavery (possibly to pay a debt) and “Hosea was told to buy her back as a demonstration of the way in which the faithful God loves and saves his people.”
Gomer was put on the auction block in the capital city. She had been a vivacious woman, and even in her grossly fallen state, she was still beautiful. When the bidding started, the offers were high.
“Twelve pieces of silver,” said one.
“Thirteen,” said Hosea.
“The low bidders dropped out. But someone added, ‘Fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel of barley.'”
There was no higher bidder and Gomer was “sold to Hosea for fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel and a half of barley. Now Hosea owned his wife.” Hosea had redeemed her – bought her back. This is how Hosea tells it:
The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you” (Hosea 3:1-3).
This is the meaning of redemption – to buy somebody out of slavery (to set a slave free by paying a price).
If we understand Hosea’s story, we understand that we are like the slave sold on the auction block of sin. We were created for intimate fellowship with God and for freedom, but we have disgraced ourselves by unfaithfulness. First, we have flirted with and committed adultery with this sinful world and its values. The world has even bid for our soul, offering sex, money, fame, power and all the other items in which it traffics. But Jesus, our faithful bridegroom and lover, entered the market place to buy us back. He bid his own blood. There is no higher bid than that. And we became his. He clothes us, not in the wretched rages of our old righteousness, but in his new robes of righteousness. . . He has said to us, “you must dwell as mine . . . ; you shall not belong to another. . . ; so will I also be to you. 
There are two basic consequences of redemption:
· First, we are free. It sounds like a paradox. We are purchased by Jesus Christ to be set “free from the guilt and tryanny of the law and from sin’s power.” Gal. 5:1 explains it so well: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” We are not set free to be libertines to do whatever we want and even to sin as we want. We are set free to serve God and to do good.
· Second, we are called upon to totally commit our lives to the Christ who set us free. There is no place for lukewarm Christianity. Christ gave Himself so that we give ourselves for him. As James Montgomery Boice put it, “We must be willing, eager and determined to serve him. He died for us because of his great love. That love, an amazing love, ‘demands my soul, my life, my all.'”
There was a young boy who lived in a New England seaport [in the USA] and loved to watch the boats come in from their daily catch. One day he decided to build a little [sailing] boat all of his own. He worked for weeks making sure each detail was just right. Finally the big day arrived. He went down to the wharf and proudly put his boat into the water. As he triumphantly observed his new [sailing] boat, he noticed that the wind had suddenly changed, and the tiny boat was being swept out of sight. The little boy was heartbroken. Every day for a month he went back to see if his boat had been washed up on shore.
Finally, one day in the market he saw his boat in a store window. He excitedly ran into the store and told the proprietress that it was his boat. The woman only responded by saying that the boat would cost him two dollars. After pleading with her to no avail, the boy finally pulled out the money and gave it to the storeowner. As the boy was leaving the store, he said, “Little boat, you are twice mine. You are mine because I made you, and now you are mine because I bought you.”
What was your life like before you surrendered to Christ for salvation? This passage gets straight to the point. It was
B. “The empty way of life” (v. 17 NIV, NET Bible)
Other translations define it:
· “the futile way of life” (NASB, ESV “futile ways”, NRSV, NJB),
· “useless way of life” (CEV),
· “aimless conduct” (NKJV),
· “vain conversation” (KJV)
· “empty folly” (NEB),
· “worthless way of life” (ISV).
That doesn’t sound very positive and it isn’t. Folks, we must never preach the good news unless people understand the bad news. The good news means nothing to people who don’t understand their true position before God. Here it literally says that our former way of life is “vain conduct,” meaning “a lifestyle that is without purpose, unfruitful, useless.” That’s how the Bible describes your life without Christ – empty, worthless, useless, vain, aimless, or futile.
Doesn’t that sound like the world and its problems, personal sins, and the mess our country is in with murder, rape, sexual abuse, prostitution, domestic violence, corruption in government departments, etc.?
Where did it come from? Peter says that it was . . .
C. “Handed down to you from your forefathers” (v. 18)
We are not told whether this way of life came from our parents and
their heritage. We are not told if it refers to:
· Jews who were observing the traditions of their forefathers, or
· Pagan forefathers of the Gentiles,
But since this epistle is written to “God’s elect, strangers in the world scattered throughout” Asia Minor (1:1), there is the definite possibility that it refers to all people – Jews & Gentiles.
All of us have received a terrible heritage and we pass that shocking background on to our own children and they to their children. It’s a useless way of life that has been passed on to us and we cannot help but pass it on to others after us.
But we must understand this from God’s perspective: We are sinners from conception. Psalm 51:5 puts it so clearly, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Imagine seeing that proclaimed on the billboards down the highway or on radio, TV and newspaper! This is the BAD news about all of us BEFORE salvation. We are sinners from conception. We are sinners from birth. If it were not for this BAD news, the GOOD news would be meaningless.
It is only sinners who need a Saviour. Those who are good living people but are not sinners have absolutely no need of a Saviour. If you have been a good person all your life, why would you need Christ? It is absolutely essential that we proclaim Christ as the Saviour of sinners, people who are sinful at the core of their being.
We who are “slaves of sin” were created by God himself but we need to be bought out of slavery to sin. How can this be done?
It is very interesting to note some of ways of redemption that people are advocating. These are some examples:
· “With the ‘Fall’ [into sin in Gen. 3], Adam & Eve caused Death & Suffering to enter into our world. With the Redemption, Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Mediatrix of all Graces; caused Grace to enter the World.”
· “One of the popular word faith teachings is that Jesus took on the nature of Satan and had to be born again. This doctrine is intrinsically linked to the ‘Jesus died spiritually’ heresy which postulates that Jesus’ shed blood was insufficient for the redemption of man; He had to suffer at Satan’s hands in Hell and be born again as the first man to conquer death. [Benny] Hinn also teaches this heresy, [saying]:
“He [Jesus] who is righteous by choice said, ‘The only way I can stop sin is by Me becoming it. I can’t just stop it by letting it touch Me; I and it must become one.’ Hear this! He who is the nature of God became the nature of Satan where He became sin!” (TBN, 1 Dec. 1990). [Please note: Jesus was not righteous by choice. He was completely righteous, sinless by his very nature, he is God.]
Believe that Jesus did what the Bible says. Believe He is indeed the Son of God, born of a virgin. He took man’s sin Himself. He became our sacrifice and died on the cross. He did not stay dead. During that time He entered hell, where you and I deserved to go (legally) because of our sin. He paid the price there.
The apostle Peter, writing in I Peter, rejects such heresies. He is very clear about what he means. Note v. 18:
D. Salvation through Christ means you cannot be ransomed or redeemed using “perishable things.”
Peter is very specific. In the NT world and even today, silver and
gold were very valuable.
Comparatively speaking [they] are least perishable. First he specifies silver. But silver, when exposed to any sulphur compounds in the air, tarnishes, corrodes, and loses its value. Next Peter cites gold, which is more durable than silver. Even this precious metal is subject to decay. In brief, earthly possessions do not qualify as payment to redeem [people from their slavery to sin].
We must understand that NOTHING that we can do by way of good deeds can ever be good enough before God to redeem us from slavery to sin. NOTHING we do will ever meet God’s standard.
Redemption is entirely the work of God’s grace. How can it happen? Any person dead in sin, in slavery to sin, according to v. 19, can be bought back – redeemed – “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
E. Salvation through Christ means you can be ransomed or redeemed “through the precious blood of Christ” (v. 19).
How can this be? To understand why the spilling of blood is necessary for your redemption from slavery to sin, we need to understand the OT context from the Passover history and ceremony. Remember the situation told in Exodus 12:1-11:
The Jewish people were set free from slavery when each family took a lamb without defect, slaughtered it at twilight on the fourteenth of the month Nisan, put the blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes of their homes . . . and ate the Passover.
· Paul stated that our redemption is accomplished because we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:24-25).
· In the Book of Hebrews, it declares that Christ “did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (NIV).
· In the Book of Revelation, it is recorded that that saints in heaven will sing a new song to Christ, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
This is a wonderful teaching that Christ is our redeemer. We don’t use this language very often. We prefer: He is our Saviour. It is true that Christ has saved us from “power and destruction of sin. Of even greater significance, however, is the truth that [Christ] has purchased us by shedding his precious blood on Calvary’s cross.”
I’m convinced that we need to give far greater emphasis to Christ, Our Redeemer.
I am thinking of Philip Bliss’s wonderful hymn that we should sing with triumph and delight:
I will sing of my Redeemer;
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
He’s the one who has:
· It’s “a special kind of freedom.” You are not free to do what you like and sin as much as you like because your salvation is guaranteed, but you are set free to serve.
More of that next time, when we continue this exposition: Salvation means you are free but you must live a Christ-centred life.
When Dr. Howard Kelley of Johns Hopkins University [USA] was going on a walk, he got rather thirsty. Seeing an old farmhouse, he went to the door and asked the girl who answered if her parents were home. She said no. He asked if he could have a drink of water. She said she would have to [pump] it uphill. She offered to let him come in and have some milk though. He did, and then went on his way. Weeks later he operated on a girl on the operating table and she was this same little girl.
The hospital and doctor’s bills soon came to the family and they had no idea how they could pay them. However, they looked down at the bottom of the bill and read these words: “Paid in full by two glasses of milk.” 
Jesus paid the price in full through his own blood, God’s price, to set us free from the power of sin and to live a life wholly committed to Him.
- What have you done with Christ’s sacrifice for you?
- Have you accepted Christ’s diagnosis of how bad your situation is – you are slaves to sin and dead in sin. You are in a hopeless and helpless situation.
- But Christ has paid the price in his death for you to be redeemed from sin.
- How will you respond to Christ’s offer to repent of your sin and trust Christ and Christ alone for your redemption? Will you do that today if you don’t know Christ as your Redeemer?
 The original said “19 million” but the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that on 8 July 2007, the resident population of Australia had passed the 21 million mark, available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/1647509ef7e25faaca2568a900154b63?OpenDocument [8 July 2007]. According to the Australian census 2001, the population was 18,769249, available from: http://www.crc.nsw.gov.au/statistics/Sect1/Table1p03Aust.pdf [31 May 2005].
 ‘ADHD Statistics: ADHD Report.com’, available from: http://www.adhd-report.com/adhd/1_adhd_statistics.html [31 May 2005].
 Yearbook Australia, Population 2005: Marriages, divorces and de facto relationships, Australian Bureau of Statistics, “Between 1996 and 2001 the census count of people aged 15 years and over in de facto marriages rose by 28% from 744,100 to 951,500”, available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/992C91E65FB38B66CA256F7200832F7E?Open [31 May 2005].
 “Panic/Anxiety Disorders” January 12, 2005, available from: http://panicdisorder.about.com/b/a/138992.htm [31 May 2005].
 The Salvation Army 2005, “Suicide Fact Chart,” available from: http://www.salvos.org.au/SALVOS/NEW/me.get?SITE.sectionshow&FFFF358#australia [31 May 2005].
 Catholic Church Apologetics ‘Suffering’, available from: http://www.iamonetruth.com/suffering.htm [4 June 2005].
 Witness Lee 1997-2005, The Body of Christ, ch. 1, ‘The issue of dispensing the divine Trinity’, available from: http://www.livingstream.com/witness-lee/0870833952_Cexcerpt.html [4 June 2005]
 ‘Benny Hinn Insights’, Apologetics Coordination Team: Deception in the Church’, available from: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/benny.htm [4 June 2005].
 Bob Waldrep 2003, ‘What Joyce Wants, Joyce Gets’, Watchman Fellowship of Alabama, available from: http://www.wfial.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=artWordFaith.article_2#14 [4 June 2005], emphasis added.
Copyright (c) 2007, Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at: 13 October 2015.