Paul writes to the Colossians that in Christ "we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Before we look at what redemption signifies, let's stop for a minute to ponder the meaning of forgiveness. Forgiveness implies that a wrong has been done. We sometimes mistakenly believe that forgiveness is pretending that the wrong never happened. Nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot forgive unless you first acknowledge the wrong that has been done. To do so is not unspiritual at all. Why? Because for a start God hates the sin more than you did. God is angry when people are violated and abused. Forgiveness must start with a frank acknowledgment of the wrong that was done. Forgiveness then releases the person who wronged us to God. Forgiveness acknowledges that God alone has the right to be judge -- not us. Refusal to forgive is a statement that we have the right to take the place of God in judging. Yet because we do not have that right, our refusal to forgive only results in anger, bitterness and resentment. We hurt ourselves more than whatever injury the other person caused us. Jesus describes the process as being given over to the torturers or jailers (Matt. 18:34). The fact is that what we did to the sinless Lamb of God was utterly without excuse -- yet He has forgiven us for it. How then could we assume the seat of judgment when it comes to the lesser things others have done to us? Jesus explores this theme in the parable of the two debtors (Matt. 18:23-35). When we fully acknowledge the wrong but choose to release the person to God, we find peace -- or at least I have! Unforgiveness is a denial of the cross -- it will destroy your life. You need to treat it as a deadly poison and move past it. Now let's look at the meaning of redemption. Redemption is a word borrowed from the slave market. Redemption occurred when someone paid a price to set a slave free. Man fell into sin when he rebelled against God. If God is the holy God He is, then He must punish that rebellion, for otherwise He would be endorsing our sin, in which case there would no longer be any difference between man and God. God is angry -- righteously angry -- when we sin. He is not angry in our self-centred, pouting, vengeful way, but in a pure way which expresses His utter holiness. If God were vengeful, why would He have sent His Son to die for the sins we had committed against Him? Yet someone had to pay the price for our rebellion, and until that price was paid, no one could be set free. Sin has been committed and must be atoned for. We were slaves to sin. No matter how hard we tried we could not change ourselves. In fact, we fell further into sin.
But God sent His Son, and through His Son’s death, God paid the price himself. That is our redemption – we are slaves set free. As a result, we have the forgiveness of sins. That means no longer is the judgment of God against us, the judgment which sends sinners to the lake of fire. Now instead of judgment we receive mercy, and we are transferred from the tyranny of sin into the kingdom of a loving God.
If all this is true, then there is only one way to access true freedom: by coming through the blood of Jesus Christ, by accepting His sacrifice for you, by bowing the knee before Him and acknowledging that He and He alone is Lord of all. The price of freedom -- the blood of Christ. The cost to you is nothing -- except for giving Him for your life.
And then knowing we are redeemed, we can live a life of forgiveness toward others. We can follow Jesus in the way of the cross and find true freedom.