Redeemed for Holiness
Topic: English Passage: 1 Peter 1:18-19
One of the most frustrating or annoying part of living in a fallen world is when things don’t work. I think all of you would agree with that. My wife and I had to take our van in this week because it had a radiator leak.
We had also ordered a specific size scooper online, which has arrived. I’m talking about those spring powered scoopers that you normally use for ice cream. There are many different sizes to choose from, and after some trial and error we found the right size for my wife’s cupcake pan.
Well, once it arrived, the spring mechanism didn’t work well. It wouldn’t go back all the way. And if you’re planning to make a large batch of cupcakes, you can see how that would get frustrating or annoying.
Now, generally speaking, I’m not that bothered when your stuff doesn’t work. I’m bothered when my stuff doesn’t work, especially when it’s something I paid for. My stuff is supposed to work properly. There is a distinct connection, for most of us, between ownership and expectation. If something belongs to us, we’d like it to work. We want it to do what it’s supposed to do. Ownership brings with it an expectation. That’s the connection that’s being made in our passage for today.
Let me read it for us. And I’m going to back up a little so that we can hear some of the context again. First Peter 1:13-19.
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, 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.
We have stated multiple times that this letter was written to Christians in a time of great suffering. The truths here don’t apply only to those times, but they are especially needed in those times. What we’ve seen is that Peter is leading us to focus on our eternal salvation, and he’s calling us to a life of hope and a life of holiness. Those aren’t easy pursuits. Those are battles. And Peter, moved by the Holy Spirit, wants to equip us for those battles.
The battle for hope is not simply a battle against a pessimistic spirit; it’s a battle to put your hope in Christ and in His promises rather than in what this world can offer. It is a hope that leads you to take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. The battle for hope is serious.
And it’s the same for the battle for holiness. The battle for holiness is not just about behaving better. It’s about denying our flesh, and treasuring Christ and His promises, so that our lives glorify our heavenly Father. And again, Peter wants to equip us for that battle.
Verse 13 talks about placing our hope in Christ, and then, beginning in verse 14, Peter focuses on our pursuit of holiness. To help us, he reminds us about our relationship with God our Father. He reminds us about God’s holiness. And, like we talked about last week, he reminds us about God’s fatherly judgment. This is meant to help us walk in fear.
Again, this is not a fear of condemnation or a fear of eternal judgment. For those who have trusted in Christ, this is a godly, righteous fear that prompts us to walk in holiness.
And now, we come to another reminder; and that is the reminder of our redemption. Look at verses 18 and 19 one more time. This is still part of the sentence that began in verse 17. The command there was to walk in fear, and now, this is part of how we can do that better.
Verse 18—knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, 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.
We are empowered to walk in holy fear by reminding ourselves that we have been ransomed. We have been redeemed. That’s the key word for today: redemption.
What does it mean to be ransomed or redeemed? When I hear the word “ransom” I think about a kidnapping. Someone with evil intent kidnaps a person and demands a price to be paid in order for the person to be set free.
Well, that’s not too far from the biblical idea of ransom or redemption. To ransom, or to redeem, means to pay a price in order to free someone. It’s more than just rescuing; it’s rescuing with a price. There are some occasions where the Bible talks about a future redemption, that is our glorification, our final salvation. But here, Peter is talking about redemption in the past tense. This is pointing back to the moment of our salvation. What does it mean to say that we were redeemed?
The idea of redemption has roots both for Israel in the Old Testament and for the Greeks and Romans of the first century. It could be used in a general sense, meaning to rescue, but more specifically it spoke of rescuing with a price. Something had to be paid.
In the Old Testament, for example, the firstborn son of beast and man belonged to God. So, if your donkey had its first baby donkey, you had to sacrifice it to God. If you didn’t want to do that, that was okay, but then you had to sacrifice a lamb.
Now, if you’re wife had a firstborn son, he was not to be sacrifices, but he had to be redeemed. A price had to be paid to God for that son.
The same principle applied to slaves. Slaves, in the Hebrew Old Testament culture served as a way of providing for themselves when they couldn’t do so on their own. Sometimes, that was a way of working yourself out of debt while still guaranteeing food and shelter for you and your family. Well, a slave could also be redeemed. Someone could pay the price to set that slave free. That was called redemption.
Now, if you fast forward to the time of the New Testament, you get the same kind of idea with the pagan culture of the Greeks and Romans. Redemption was a term that applied to slaves. If a slave wanted to be freed, he or his family and friends would gather a sum of money and pay it to the temple of one of the gods or goddesses they worshipped.
The temple would take a commission for itself and then pay a price to the slave’s owner. And the idea was that the god or goddess was buying the slave back. That was called “redemption.” Once redeemed by a god or goddess, a slave was free with regard to others in the world, but he was considered a slave of that god or goddess.
Like I said, redemption is a rescue that comes at a price. That’s why it’s considered a precious thing, because “precious” is connected to the word “price.” And you see Peter pick up on that idea.
Now, in seeking to understand a Christian’s redemption, I want to walk us through four questions and answers about redemption. That’ll be our outline for today—four questions about redemption.
Question number 1: Who has redeemed us? Who has redeemed us?
The simple answer there is “God.” God has redeemed us. He is the One who has paid the price to set us free. Through out the Old Testament, God is known as the Redeemer of His people. That’s who He is; He saves His people. He redeemed Israel from Egypt, and He will redeem His people eternally.
Psalm 19:14—O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 34:22—The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalm 130:7—O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
Isaiah 43:14—Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
Well, when we come to the New Testament, we add a new facet to that reality because we see that our Redeemer is Jesus.
Galatians 3:13 says “Christ redeemed us...” Colossians 1:14 says. “in Him we have redemption.”
That’s a great theological point to make, by the way, if if you want to make the case for the deity of Jesus Christ. Every Israelite knew that God alone would be the Redeemer of His people. And then in the New Testament, we’re told that Jesus is our Redeemer. How does that work? It works because Jesus is God. He could do what no other man could do.
Now, this leads us to our second question. Question #2—What have we been redeemed with? What have we been redeemed with?
Peter tells us that in verse 18. Unlike how it was done for the slaves of that day, this redemption by God, through Christ, was not done with cheap things, like silver or gold. Peter isn’t saying money isn’t valuable, but he’s saying it doesn’t compare to what was paid for our salvation.
The price of our redemption was “precious blood.” Silver and gold are part of this temporary world. But the life that was given is not of this world. We were redeemed by the blood of a spotless lamb. And that Lamb was Jesus Christ.
This is the principle that God was teaching His people in the Old Testament. He demands a price to be paid. On the first Passover, on the last plague on Egypt, a sacrifice had to be made so that the angel of death would pass over that house. A life had to be given. That was the life of a spotless lamb, a lamb without defect.
When the Bible talks about the blood of Jesus, it’s not trying to focus on His literal blood. It’s a way of talking about His life and his death. “Shedding blood” was an expression used, not for cutting yourself, but for taking life. Because blood symbolized life.
The key passage here is what God said to Israel in Leviticus 17:11—For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.
The Jews understood that significance. That’s why blood was taken seriously. Blood represented someone’s like. So, when you read about Jesus’ blood, don’t just think about red bodily fluid. Think about the sacrificing of His life for us. As the true Passover Lamb, He gave Himself in our place.
Ephesians 1:7 says “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”
This was God’s plan. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. He gave His life to redeem His people.
Every Old Testament sacrifice made by faith was really pointing us to the one and only true sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That’s what the Old Covenant system was pointing to and anticipating.
Hebrews 9 makes that point in verses 11 and 12. When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
You and I deserve to die physically and spiritually. We deserve to be cut off from God forever in judgment. The world says we’re good. The world says God will accept us for who we are. But the Bible emphatically says, “No! If you come to God on the basis of your merit, you will perish! Left to yourself, you are an offense to the holiness of God.”
But in His merciful love, God sent His Son Jesus. And He paid the ultimate price to satisfy the righteous demands of God’s holiness.
Colossians 2 says it like this: You... were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, [but] God made [you] alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
If you will turn away from a life of sin, if you will surrender your way of thinking, and if you will embrace the risen Lord Jesus as the one and only Savior, worthy of your allegiance, God will save you. He’ll save everyone who comes to Him, because He is the great Redeemer.
The list of your sin, and the list of my sins, before a holy God is inexhaustible. God sees and knows everything. And every sinner must give an account. But for those who have trusted completely and only in Jesus, the penalty due for those sins is paid for in full by Jesus who gave Himself as our ransom. There’s no other way to be saved.
You’re not going to be saved because your parents are saved. You’re not going to be saved because you attended church. You’re not going to be saved because you knew all the Bible answers. You aren’t going to be saved because you got baptized. The only way you will be saved is if you surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Call out to Him for mercy and forgiveness, and place all your confidence in Him alone, and you will be joined to the family of God, and we will rejoice with you at the mercy and glory of God.
Like I said, this world rejects any idea that we are unworthy before God. And that man-centered system creeps into Christianity as well. There are groups and pastors out there who talk about Christ’s redemption as some indication of your intrinsic worth. In other words, they say things like, “God paid the highest price for you because you are worth it!” This is all connected to that self-oriented self-esteem model for life.
In fact, I saw a message this past week where the pastor used the parable of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price to say that we are that pearl, rather than Jesus. The greatest treasure in life, he said, is to be who you were meant to be. That’s the treasure. And then he came out as a trans woman.
That’s where that kind of philosophy will end. It ends in self-worship and self-idolatry, rather than in humble worship of God and in the laying down of your life before Him.
Jesus didn’t give His life because we are worth it. That’s not the point of redemption. The price God and Christ paid for our redemption is not an indication of our intrinsic worth.
Romans says Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. We were children of wrath. God didn’t pay a high price because we were worth it. God paid the price because He is that holy and that merciful.
The price of our redemption is an indication of how serious and how desperate our situation was. Sin demanded death. Sin separated us from God eternally. The death of Christ is an indication of how far we were from Him. It’s an indication of how heinous and atrocious sin is before a holy and righteous God.
Only the infinitely valuable life of the spotless Son of God could pay the price for sinners. He is God and man, and the only Mediator between them. And the blood of Jesus is precious enough to pay for everyone who comes. It pays for every man and woman who repents of their sin and embraces Jesus Christ.
Who has redeemed us? God has, in Jesus Christ. What have we been redeemed with? What was the price? We were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. He gave His life on our behalf.
Let’s move on to question number 3. What have we been redeemed from? What have we been redeemed from?
This is the second part of verse 18. We have been redeemed from the futile ways inherited from our forefathers.
I can’t say this enough. Apart from Christ, everything in this life is meaningless. It’s pointless. It’s vain. Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” You can’t give anything in exchange for your soul.
That meaningless pursuit of life is the result of sin. It’s the result of our sinful nature. Our hearts are tainted by it and we see expressions of it in every aspect of our being. Where did that come from? It came from our forefathers. It came from your mom and your dad.
It doesn’t matter how godly or religious or sinful and wicked your parents were. You inherited from them a sinful nature. You inherited a heart bent away from glorifying God and inclined to glorify yourself.
Romans 5 says this—"sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned... because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man... one trespass led to condemnation for all men... by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners.”
That is what is known as the doctrine of original sin. We have inherited the guilt and the sinful nature of our father Adam. And from the moment we come into existence, that sin manifests itself in our choices and actions, and we deserve God’s judgment.
We don’t all sin in the same way, and we don’t all experience the same kinds of temptations or inclinations, but we are all guilty before God. We don’t love Him with all our heart.
Apart from Christ, we are slaves to sin. We are enslaved to our sinful desires. We don’t sin as much as we can, or as wickedly as we can, but we have no possible way to please God or to enter into a right relationship with Him.
Speaking of our life before salvation, Romans 6:20 says, “when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.”
Left to ourselves, we couldn’t do anything to be declared righteous by God. Nothing we could do would ever please Him or put us in a right standing with Him. We were enslaved to sin. And there was nothing we could do about. We were spiritually dead, blinded by sin, walking according to the course of this world.
But Jesus has redeemed us from that. He was the only one who could. He opened the eyes of our heart, and He applied to us His atoning work on the cross. He paid the price to free us from the penalty of sin and the power of sin in our life.
Now, does that mean that we can now do whatever we want? Are we free to live as we please because we’ve been redeemed by Jesus? This is going our final question for today. And let me ask it this way: What difference does our redemption make? What difference does our redemption make?
The Apostle Paul had to respond to the idea that forgiveness from sin meant you could live however you wanted. And the point he made was this: if you think redemption means you get to live however you want, you don’t understand redemption. That’s the point of Romans 6.
Yes, we were slaves to sin, and yes were have been freed by Christ. But that doesn’t mean we no longer have a master. Being freed by God with regards to sin means that He purchased you for Himself. You need to understand that. In Christ, you are free in regard to sin, but you are not free from a master. You have a new master.
Romans 6:11 says “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Verse 17 says, “you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
And verse 22 says we “have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God.”
A transfer took place. God redeemed us, and we now belong to Him. And ownership brings with it an expectation. Ownership brings with it an expectation.
Our battle for holiness is enhanced when we recognize that we belong to God. Our practical righteousness doesn’t cause our salvation. Our salvation causes us to grow in practical holiness. We walk in obedience and fear because we remember that our life is not our own. We belong to someone else.
Think about how backwards that message is from the culture’s. Scientists and philosophers and educators have told us for years that we are nothing more than the product of blind, random chance. There is no God. There is not judge. There is no sin. There is no absolute morality. All this is meaningless. That’s the culture’s message.
“Same old song. Just a drop of water in an endless sea. All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see. Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind."
So, culture says, “Live it up. You only live once.” That’s the culture’s message. There is no final accountability. You are in charge of your own life.
It’s a dangerous message, because it’s a lie. We will all see God one day. And we will give an account. He is our God. He created us. And if you have surrendered your life to Jesus, you have a heavenly Father who has redeemed you with the precious blood of His eternal Son.
First Corinthians 6:19-20—You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Redemption makes all the difference.