If there is one attribute of God and aspect of my story that is paramount to all others, it is redemption. I know what it is to be a slave, and I know what it is to be set free. A slave cannot free themselves. I know what it means to be in captivity, with no hope and no way of escape, and then to be ransomed and delivered; not of my own will, but by the will of the One who loves me. I know intimately what it means to be redeemed in every sense of the word.
-to buy or pay off; clear by payment
-to buy back
-to recover by payment
-to make up for, make amends for some fault, or shortcoming
-to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom
-to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner
-repurchase, paying off
-recovery by payment
I was once a captive to addiction, depression, fear, and all that a party life brings. Enslaved by my own choices, wrapping the chains tighter and tighter around my neck. My Record of Wrongs increasingly expanding giving the devil plenty of ammunition for his accusation arsenal. But God had other plans.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart. “I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’” Jeremiah 29:11-14a
When God redeems your life and rescues you with a mighty outstretched hand, you can’t help but love Him. At the beginning, your whole life changes and you think, “Everything will be different now.” Which is true. Everything is different. You experience life where there was once death. Love where there was desolation. Acceptance where there was rejection. You experience the divine romance with the Creator of your soul. Your knight in shining armor, Jesus, has come to rescue you. His blood shed on the Cross, the grandest romantic gesture of love for all mankind. He has ransomed you, bought and purchased you, with His own blood. There couldn’t be anything more romantic.
But it doesn’t feel so romantic when face to face with the demons from the past waging war for my soul. When I’m in the trenches wrestling down memories of sins from long ago, fighting for the life which Christ purchased for me on the Cross. It feels violent, brutal, exhausting, and sometimes just plain defeating. It begs the question, am I really a new creation in Christ? I know I’ve been taken out of Egypt, but has Egypt been taken out of me?
How do I really lay hold of the truths behind verses like “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Or “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Or “I am a new creation, the old is gone the new is here!” How do I actually live free and experience the full redemption that God promises me? Not living half saved, with my external behavior changed and my internal reality still a torture chamber. How do I live and stay free? Not allowing the sins of the past to affect my present and future?
“Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is FULL redemption.” Psalm 130:7
The devil knows what happens when a believer gets full of hope. When someone puts their trust in God and believes the words that He says are true. The devil knows he is defeated, so his only tool is deception. If he can deceive the free person into believing they are still a slave, and they owe, then they are enslaved. Their experience is one of captivity. But when a person puts their hope, faith, and trust in God, there is no stopping them. There is no stopping God. He has finished the work for us. He has delivered us. When our hearts fully grasp it and believe it, there is no power the Devil has. He is defeated. Truth defeats the lies, and the truth is I am redeemed. I am set free. Jesus has broken the shackles that once bound me and there is no more the devil can do to destroy me. He may try, and God may let him. But when I cling to the Truth and stand in the Light, all darkness loses its power and its grip. It cannot hold me anymore.
There is a legality to redemption. When Jesus Christ purchased me on the Cross, there was a transaction made in the spiritual realm. His blood for my soul. All I have to do is believe. Believe that my debt was paid in full. Remind the devil of the blood ransom when he comes trying to remind me of my debt. But this hasn’t always seemed to work. There has been a back and forth in the spiritual realm. Like a tennis match to the death.
“No you’re not.”
“I’m made new.”
“You’re still the old creation. I even have the evidence to prove it.”
“I’m set free.”
“Oh really? Remember when…”
Somewhere in “remember when” I get lost. Guilt and fear sweep over me. Suddenly, instead of volleying, the Devil is pelting me with blow after blow of accusation and ridicule. A continuous barrage of death delivering tennis balls from his caddy with a bottomless pit; I cower in the corner.
“Jesus why is this happening? There is no other name above Your name. Why won’t the Devil flee when I proclaim it?”
“Believe in you heart.” (Rom. 10:9)
The devil knows our minds are faulty, our reasoning can become foolish and darkened. He uses our own understanding against us. We can be easily tricked into believing a lie if we don’t intimately know the Truth. He reminds us of all the external evidence as to why we are guilty and will never be free. He becomes a legalist when it works to his advantage.
Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Belief happens in the heart. When you have the heart you have the all. Out the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. When we see the truth plainly, and trust God and what His word says in our hearts, there is no contest. Jesus has legally purchased me. I am not my own, I was bought with a price. The devil has no rights to me. When I believe it, I then experience it. When I look at the evidence God has provided, and believe it, something rises up inside of me. Like a defense attorney, the Holy Spirit pleads my case and I believe.
God put it to me this way. If a police officer were to come trying to arrest me for crimes I was guilty of long ago, but I had completed the punishment for, would I go with them? No. Of course not. I have the evidence to prove I’ve completed my sentencing. The only way I would go with that officer would be if they deceived me—if they got me to believe I was in trouble with the court. But if I provided the evidence proving my debt to society has been paid and I have no further obligation, then I would go free.
The problem is, when the devil comes trying to arrest us for crimes committed long ago, we can’t seem to find the evidence that our debt has been paid. Or we don’t believe the Cross was sufficient so we are deceived into going back into captivity. Even if it is just minor enslavement, the devil will take what he can get.
So how do I get the “Greatest Failures” highlight reel to stop? The images to stop flashing and condemning voices to be silenced?
Look at the evidence and believe. In my heart. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (Jm 4:7).
“And such were some of you [before you believed]. But you were washed [by the atoning sacrifice of Christ], you were sanctified [set apart for God, and made holy], you were justified [declared free of guilt] in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the [Holy] Spirit of our God [the source of the believer’s new life and changed behavior].” 1 Corinthians 6:11 AMP
Justified—declared free of guilt.
God has declared it, and no word from the Lord ever fails. Do I believe it? Not just know it in my head, do I believe it in my heart? Free of the guilt and burden of my sin. I just believe and I’m free? Yes.
God allows the wrestling to happen because we are in a war. The most epic war of all eternity. He wants to love us, and redeem us, but also to transform us and train us. Conform us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). Christ is an overcomer. God wants to raise us up to fight. If we never have the opportunity to overcome, we will never know how.
Knowledge is information. Wisdom is knowing what to do with that information. God has provided ample evidence to prove His great love for us. He has finished the work on the Cross. There is nothing left for us to do but believe. Believe the truth and resist the lies. Once I believe the evidence that has been presented whole heartedly, standing confidently in my righteousness in Christ, the tennis match looks a little more like this:
“I am a new creation.”
“No you’re not. Remember when…?”
“I do remember when and that person has been crucified. I also remember when Jesus said, “It is finished,” and paid for that too. He loves me anyway. I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who LOVED me and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2:21).”
Game over. End of story. No more to be said. Because I have believed the Truth, and the Truth has set me free.
The blood of Jesus is all powerful.
I believe. Do you?
“Seems like all I can see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “Daughter,
Stop fighting a fight that’s already been won”
I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
And wipe away every stain now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed”
—Big Daddy Weave