The story is told of Abraham Lincoln, who went down to the slave block and there noticed a young black girl up for auction. Moved with compassion, he bid and won her. Upon purchasing her, Lincoln told the disbelieving young girl that she was free. In her Surprise she said, “What does that mean?”
“It means you are free,” he replied.
“Does that mean,” she said, “I can say whatever I want to say?”
“Yes, my dear, you can say whatever you want to say.”
“Does that mean I can be whatever I want to be?”
“Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.”
“Does that mean I can go wherever I want to go?”
“Yes, you can go wherever you want to go.”
And the girl, with tears streaming down her face, said, “Then I will go with you.”
Admittedly, the account is probably more legendary than legitimate. Yet it does communicate an important spiritual truth. Like the young girl on the slave block, we, too, have been redeemed and set free. The Bible reminds us in 1 Peter 1:18–19 that if we are in Christ, we have been “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [our] forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.”
Before Christ, we were sold into slavery to sin. Our hearts, our souls, our bodies were captive to sin. We had no choice but to sin. Yet unlike the slave girl, we loved our captivity and reveled in it. We lived in the foolishness of our minds and bliss of our ignorance. We relished every foolish, ignorant moment. We loved the world and we hated God (Rom. 8:7). We loved the passions of our flesh and deemed God unnecessary and His Word irrelevant for daring to challenge our lives. We were lovers of self rather than lovers of God (1 Tim. 3:2–4). We were on the broad road to hell and happy to be there.
It was into this situation that the Lord came. He came to us while we were His enemies (Rom. 5:10). He came to us while we were in the chains of the Devil and the grip of this world. He came and set us free — free from slavery to sin, free from the chains of the Evil One, free from the grip of this world and the bondage of our fleshly lust and desires. As the Bible says, God ransomed us (1 Peter 1:18). He paid the price to free us, and now we are free. The price was not paid with greenbacks or silver or gold. It was with the most precious currency of them all, the blood of Christ. And like the young slave girl, we should desire nothing more than to live for and live with the One who has redeemed us. In fact, Peter reminds us that our priceless redemption should provide the motivation for our loving, joyful, holy obedience to Christ (1 Peter 1:15–16). We are called to holiness not in order that we might be ransomed but because we have been so graciously ransomed.
In fact, here we see two truths worth remembering as motivations for our pursuit of holiness. First, remember from what you have been ransomed. The Bible says we have been ransomed “from the futile ways inherited from [our] forefathers.” Life apart from a right relationship with God is futile. Vanity of vanities, the Bible calls it, all is vanity. No matter how religious, lavish, or popular, your life before Christ was, it was empty. This is a significant word in Peter’s world because he was writing to people who in most cases were the first Christians in their families. Yet, he said the rituals their parents handed down were empty, leading into bondage and away from God. But God, through the blood of Christ, has delivered us from them all.
Second, remember with what you have been ransomed. The Bible says that we have been ransomed not with perishable things but with the precious blood of Christ. Someone has said that salvation is free. Yes, it is free in that it does not cost silver, gold, dollars, or cents. But that does not mean that it doesn’t cost anything. In fact, it cost Christ everything. Salvation is free to you and me because someone else paid the price.
It’s one thing to ransom someone from slavery in this world, but how do we ransom people from slavery to sin? How much do you pay to ransom them from death and hell? Silver and gold are of no value. There is an economy wherein the only currency is the blood of Christ. It is God’s economy. It is the economy of the kingdom of God. It is the economy of the redeemed. To redeem us, Christ did not reach into the treasure bag; He reached into Himself — the treasure of all treasures — and set us free. I choose to go with Him. How about you?