Scripture speaks of men as sinners, describes them as slaves.
They are in bondage. And salvation is described as an act of redemption. Well, what does that mean? Hello and welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright. Today, as Don continues teaching God's people God's Word, he'll press ahead in his series called When You're Weary with Sin. He has part one of a message called Redemption for a Slave Like You. This time around, Don looks at the one need every man, woman and child that has ever been born or ever will be born has in common.
Let's find out what that is with Don Green in today's lesson on the Truth Pulpit. In the first century, there were many slaves and we've considered that in the past in our exposition of Ephesians. Slaves who were owned literally by another human being and their will was subject to their master. And it was the practice of the time that a slave, a literal slave in the employ, if you could say it that way, of another, a slave could be set free by the payment of a ransom price. And the payment of that price was called redemption. Once the price was paid, the slave could go free. His prior master had no claim on him anymore because the price of his slavery had been satisfied. And now that man, that slave, was free to go.
That was a real practice in the first century during the time at which the New Testament was written. Well, when it comes to the spiritual nature of Christian salvation, the Bible uses redemption as a picture, as a metaphor, of what Christ did for his people when he paid the price of their salvation at the cross. Let me just give you a biblical definition of redemption as we get started here. Redemption is the act of God in which he delivered us from our spiritual slavery based on the price that Christ paid with his blood at the cross. Redemption is the act of God in which he delivered us from our spiritual slavery based on the price Christ paid with his blood at the cross. Now, I hope you see in that definition that immediately there is a humbling aspect to Christian salvation.
Not only do we not hide or mitigate or minimize, we proclaim loudly and embrace it. The truth of the matter is for us to say that we are Christians and for that to be true of us, to say that you're a Christian is to acknowledge that there was a former time in your life in which you were a spiritual slave in ways that we are going to see in just a moment. Different aspects of that slavery. And so to say that I am a Christian redeemed by the blood of Christ is to say that my former manner of life was marked by spiritual slavery and that I needed to be delivered from that and someone outside of myself paid the price for me to be released from my spiritual slavery. That is all wrapped up in redemption. And that's why true Christians are fundamentally at their heart. There is a fundamental principle of humility at the heart of a true Christian who says, who acknowledges, who recognizes, not only was I not a man of means or a man who could be proud, I was a slave in darkness, unable to pay my own price for release, and I needed someone to come and release me because otherwise I would still be in that darkness.
If someone hadn't paid the price for my freedom, I would still be a slave. Now, I realize that in our American culture the word slave is a greatly loaded term, a politically and socially loaded term, but here among the people of God, here in the Bible, here in the mindset of those who are the truly saved, we need to come to grips with this language of slavery and not push it away or hide it simply because it's a politically incorrect term to have to talk about. We set aside the culture around us.
We set aside the political connotations of the term here in America. We say, that's not what we're talking about. Let's go to Scripture and let Scripture use its own terminology, its own lexical words.
Let it use its terminology to describe us and to embrace it because this is the sweet word of God which we love and which is a gift from heaven to us. The man who resents and rejects the idea of being called a slave in his prior condition is a man who's simply saying, I'm not a Christian and I never was because the Bible is filled with this imagery to describe it. Now, so that leaves us today then with a message that I've titled, Redemption for a Slave Like You. Redemption for a Slave Like You. And so we're just going to kind of do a thematic study of redemption very quickly here in a way that will prepare our hearts for receiving the Lord's Supper later on with a sense of understanding and with a sense of appreciation. And I want to break this down I think around four basic points that again we'll go through rather quickly.
Let me just say I'm using the second person deliberately here talking to you. I don't want to talk about this in the abstract third person as if this is something that people out there need. No, this is needed by us within this room.
This is what you and I need. This is the crux of our eternal hope to understand these things and to respond to them rightly and to understand the reality to accept as a patient accepting the diagnosis of a skilled physician to accept the diagnosis that scripture gives of us in our human flesh, in our unredeemed condition, in our unsaved manner of life. To accept that, see we must come to God, we must come to Christ on the terms that he declares, on the terms that he imposes, on the terms that scripture sets forth for us and not think that we can go around those and to come through a different door. There is one door to true salvation.
That door is the Lord Jesus as the Gospel of John tells us. And you must go through the door that he has appointed and the only door through which true salvation is found is through the humbling door of recognizing that redemption was aimed for a slave like you. It's humbling, but that's okay.
The truth that humbles is better than a lie that flatters. And so let's look at this ever so briefly. First of all, let's consider the need for your redemption. The need for your redemption, and I ask you whether you realize just how serious your prior slavery to sin was.
Now, just a little pause button here. I'm going to speak predominantly as speaking as to brothers and sisters in Christ so that this aspect of slavery is, we can rightly refer to it in a past tense sense. Yet, if you're not a Christian, although I'm using past tense grammar to describe these things, what you need to understand as someone who is not in Christ is that I am describing your present condition. This is what spiritual reality is for you if you are not in Christ.
And so because this is predominantly a Christian gathering, I will speak as to Christians and use the past tense, but don't assume that if you are outside of Christ that this slavery is something that doesn't apply to you. Scripture is describing for you your present existence, whether you realize it or not. And so with that preliminary qualification, let's consider the need for your redemption. Why does a man need to be redeemed? Why did you as a Christian need to be redeemed?
First of all, there's three aspects to this first point, three sub-points for those of you that are taking notes. First of all, the reality is that you were a slave to sin. You were a slave to sin. Slave in the sense that sin owned you and determined what you did.
The idea of a man having a completely free will is a fabrication of bad theologians and of people who don't want to acknowledge what Scripture says about their condition. You might be free to choose, but under the influence of sin all you were free to choose was how you were going to sin. You weren't free for righteousness because sin owns you like a slave.
Really crucial for you to understand that. You were a slave to sin. Now, those who are without Christ may think that they are free, but it's a delusion. It's a self-deception. It's not true.
It's not real. The reality, according to God's Word, is that they are in the grip of a spiritual power that is greater than themselves. Scripture says in John 8 34, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. Romans 6 verse 17 says, you were slaves of sin. And Titus 3 verse 3, speaking in the past tense because he's addressing Christians, says, we also once were enslaved to various lusts. You see, in multiple places Scripture describes those who are not in Christ as those who are in spiritual slavery and that they're in a slavery to sin.
They're in slavery to unrighteousness. Do you understand why it is that men do not have the power to break their bad habits? Why it is that men don't just easily walk away from their drugs or their alcohol? Why it is that men just don't stop sinning those that have been enslaved by literal physical lusts to images and different matters of material that are too shameful to mention. The reason that they can't just up and walk away from it and they keep returning like a dog to their vomit is because they're going back to the master that owns them. They're slaves to sin and that's why men can't just walk away from it.
That's why those things continue to dominate their lives. You see, Scripture describes it as a fact that sin owns you when you're not a Christian. You are in chains if you're not a Christian. The odd thing, I've said this in the past, the odd thing about unsaved people when it comes to addressing their slavery to sin is that they will protest how free they are. They're free from the demands of God and they can do whatever they want, so to speak. But they're not free to walk away from it. They're not free to suddenly become Christ-loving people because sin owns them.
And as they proclaim what they think and perceive to be their spiritual freedom, all they are doing is rattling and lifting up the chains that bind them and kissing the chains that actually enslave them. Because Scripture says you were a slave to sin. Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And so we do people no favors when we redefine sin as a disease because when you have a disease, you're not looking for a redeemer, are you?
You're actually just finding an excuse, well, I'm just so sick. We shouldn't think that way. Scripture doesn't let us think that way. The reason that you needed a redeemer, Christian brother, Christian sister, the reason you needed a redeemer, one who could pay a price to free you from slavery is because you were actually in spiritual slavery. You were a slave to sin. Now, there's another aspect of this need for redemption that Scripture points us to, and it's this, it's that you were a slave to the law.
You were a slave to the law. To the extent that men believe in God in our day and age, and I guess throughout all the ages, to the extent that unsaved men say that they believe in God, they have a twofold aspect to that. First of all, they think that God's favor is earned by what they do, and simultaneously they think that they have done that, that they're good enough and that therefore they are entitled to heaven and that God owes them in response to their supposedly good behavior. And they devote themselves to rules, to regulations, to church traditions, but what they find if they would think and reflect on their situation and their condition is if they were perceptive, if they were honest about it, if they were mindful of the inner life that God requires because God does not look on the outer man, he looks on the heart, according to 1 Samuel 16, 7, to find that there's a time where it flips and suddenly the rules own you, and there is this slavish devotion and what, I haven't kept the law, now what do I do?
And so you try harder. You give yourself over to giving more effort to trying to be more obedient to these laws and the reality of a rules-based righteousness is it is a merciless master. All it can do is condemn you for your failures. It can never offer you forgiveness in response. And so you try harder and for those who were serious-minded about it like Martin Luther, just finding that the more that they tried, the more they descended into darkness and the condemnation of their own conscience.
I'm not good enough, the rules are condemning me here. Yeah, precisely the point. Precisely the point is that when you are trying to earn God's favor through legal obedience, that law owns you. You can't step outside of it or you've forfeited the favor and when you break the law, the law is there to chastise you, to torment you.
Look what you did, look what you broke. It's never good enough, is it? Those of you that come out of Catholic traditions, you know it's never good enough. That's why you have to keep going back again and again and again and again to a so-called priest who offers you a so-called absolution and so-called more rules to obey in order to get your forgiveness back. That's just an awful slave master in a pointy hat lashing you again and again. Well, that's why you need redemption. You need to be brought out from under that harsh task master to a master who actually loves you, who can help you, who can forgive you.
You need to be brought out from under a master that binds your conscience and ties your mind to all kinds of rules that you can never fully satisfy. You need to be delivered from that. You need to be redeemed from that.
You need to be saved from that. In Romans chapter 7 verse 6, the Apostle Paul says that salvation releases us from a rules-based righteousness, and he puts it this way. In Romans chapter 7 verse 6, he says, We have been released from the law, having died to that by which we were bound.
True salvation is a deliverance from that conscience-binding manner of approaching to God. Scripture talks about another aspect of the unbeliever's slavery as well. Slavery to sin, slavery to the law speaks also about how you were once a slave to fear. You were a slave to fear. And this is a fear of the most punishing kind in that. Scripture describes that those who are afraid of death are slaves to fear.
In one sense, in one sense it's a right and an understandable fear. What is going to happen to you when you die? What becomes of you?
We don't have anyone apart from Scripture, we don't have anyone who can tell us reliably what lies on the other side. And if, if your conscience is smiting you and condemning you about your failure to keep the law, about your slavery to sin, and you have this sense, this ill-defined sometimes looming sense that judgment awaits me on the other side of death, there are significant grounds to be afraid. What's going to happen to you when you die? What becomes of you? What happens to your body? What happens to your soul? Who are you going to meet on the other side? What is that going to be like? When are you going to die?
How are you going to die? All of these fundamental questions that are really, in one sense, it's like life is a great funnel that is leading everyone to that one singular point. Because it's appointed for man to die once, and after this comes judgment. All of your activity and your games and your athletics and your vacations and your careers and all of it, it's just window dressing, beloved.
It's just a distraction to the ultimate point that we're all headed to. There's a reason why there's no one over the age of 125 living on earth. It's because they all of them beforehand died. You know what, 80, 90, 100 years from now, not going to be any one of us left either because death is inevitable. And the man who thinks about that seriously, apart from Christ, is eventually led to a sense of fear.
What is going to happen to me? And there's no comfort in there, is there? There's no comfort in this for someone, a false teacher, an atheist to come and say, well, there's no God and all that happens after death is that you cease to exist. Well, there's something in your heart that tells you that that's not true. And because God, Scripture says, God sets eternity in our hearts. We know that we live on, and if you willfully embrace a lie that you don't as a means of avoiding the issue, that's not a very smart way to live.
That's pretty foolish. But if you don't have an answer to that question, what happens to you at death? It's like you've gone back a few centuries into French society and you've just placed your head on a guillotine waiting for the blade to fall down and chop your head off. Because what's going to happen?
This is inevitable. It's just a matter of when the rope is cut for the thing to come down. Well, Scripture says and speaks about Christ in Hebrews chapter 2 verse 15. It says Christ came that he might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. You know, if you're not a Christian and you're thinking seriously about death, it grabs hold of you and you can't let go because there's no answer to it. There's no answer! There's no freedom from sin, no freedom from the law.
There's no answer to this fear of death. And that was true of each one of us before Christ stepped in in love and mercy to save us. Scripture describes, beloved, that entire matrix, that entire complex of existence as one of slavery. 2 Peter chapter 2 verse 19 says, by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. And so Scripture uses the language of slavery to describe the condition of the unsaved man. And slavery was bondage. Slavery was being owned by someone else. And slavery was a condition that you did not have the power or ability to deliver yourself from. When a master owns you, you cannot simply decide for a new one. The hearts of unsaved men are not free and neither are their wills.
Slaves had no freedom or rights of their own. They do what their masters tell them. Beloved, the unsaved man is in a bleak condition. Sin, law, death. Being his master, he cannot stop sinning.
He is not good enough and death is a terror to him. Well, my friend, there is so much about life on this earth to make us anxious, fearful, and discouraged. Whether you go through this life with joy is directly tied to what you believe about the nature of God and the salvation that we find through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I hope that The Truth Pulpit is a source of strength to you as you live for Christ. Would you return the blessing by dropping us a note at thetruthpulpit.com?
Look for the Contact Us link in the upper right-hand corner. Your brief greeting can assure that we keep the broadcast on this outlet as we continue to minister to you. Thank you so much and God bless you. Thank you, Don. We so appreciate those wise words. Friends, I'm Bill Wright inviting you to join us again next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on The Truth Pulpit.
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