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Hebrews 9:12
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

What does it mean to redeem? The dictionary definition of redeem is “to recover ownership of by paying a stipulated sum. To rescue or set free by paying a ransom.”[1]

The purchase of blood is Christianity 101, a foundational truth of our faith that we need to understand. If you have been in the faith for a long time, you might not find much new here. But it would grieve me not to remind you of these things. And as we proceed, you may find that your foundation could use some shoring up.

We are talking about redemption, and redemption means to “buy back.” This has a different implication than simply buying. To buy is to purchase something from someone else, an exchange of property between parties, be it money for goods or barter. But to “buy back” signifies that one had ownership over it at a particular point in time. An example may help to clarify this difference.

I can go to a car dealership and buy the automobile of my choice as long as I have the money. This is a straight out purchase. The dealership owns the car; I give them the money they request and they transfer the ownership of the car to me. Now the title deed names me as the owner. But suppose I owned a car and it was parked illegally. A towing company contracted by the city may now tow my vehicle to an impound lot. Does my car belong to them? No, but they do have possession of it. For me to get my car back, I would have to pay a fine. By paying the fine, I would “buy back” or “redeem” my vehicle.

What if the towing company wasn’t reputable? Would that matter to the judge? Not so long as I had parked illegally and had been towed for breaking the law. I could accuse the towing company of theft for all the world to hear, but I wouldn’t get my car back until I paid the fine.

Acts 20:28
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

God purchased the Church by His own blood. The blood of Jesus Christ was the means of exchange. The word translated “purchased” is the Greek word peripoieomai and means “to save for oneself.” This word is also used in Luke 17:33.

Luke 17:33
Whosoever shall seek to save [peripoieomai – to save or keep for himself] his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

When we talk of purchasing, as of buying an item in a straight transaction, we think of buying someone’s property so that we may have it. When this idea is brought into the concept of redemption, it leads to the speculation of God buying us from someone. But bought from whom? A common understanding is that God bought us from the devil. But is this what the Scripture teaches us? To find out, we must first reexamine the price of sin.

The Price of Sin
Romans 6:23
For the wages[2] of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In this verse, we have the dichotomies of death and life, wages and gift. Life is given; death is earned. What did any of us do that brought us life? Nothing; we played no part in it. This makes our life a gift. Eternal life is no different; it is a gift. If we worked for it, it wouldn’t be a gift. But death is earned. This tells us that the natural order of things is life. We did nothing of ourselves to be alive; our life is a gift from God. Death we have to earn. And how do we earn it? Through sin.

In the Garden, the Lord gave Adam the one command he had to obey:

Genesis 2:17
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

God was very clear on the consequences for breaking this command. “The day you eat thereof you shall surely die.” The doctrine of sin has been plain from the beginning: the wages of sin is death. Adam was created to live eternally with God. But if he sinned, this purpose and destiny would not be fulfilled; he would die.

Death, Lies, and Murder
Legally, one doesn’t have to be a direct agent of death to be accused of murder. For instance, if I cut the brake lines in somebody’s car with malice aforethought and they had an accident and died as a result, I would be guilty of murder. David arranged circumstances in such a way that Uriah was killed in battle. But it was David that the Lord held responsible for Uriah’s death.[3]  These are examples of killing by subtlety, letting other people or other things do the dirty work for us.

Neither does one have to be violent to be a murderer. Say I invited my neighbor over for a cup of coffee. My neighbor comes and drinks what he thinks is a good cup of java. But unbeknownst to him, I’ve poisoned the cup; that which he thought was good actually contained a poison that killed him. I would have killed him by deception. I lied to him, presenting something to him as good that was actually deadly.

This is exactly what the devil did and does. He murders through subtlety and deception.[4]

Genesis 3:4-5
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

This was an out-and-out lie. God said, “Thou shalt surely die.” And surely die he did. Those who argue that Adam didn’t die in the day because he lived 930 years (and most of those years were outside of the garden) don’t understand two important things: 1) how God keeps time; and 2) what death means. Man died that day. The day he sinned, his spiritual eyes closed in death. Nine centuries and change later, Adam “gave up the ghost” and his soul went to sheol, hell. And his body went to the ground and became dust “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”[5]

But was he alone in this calamity or was it assisted suicide? No, it was worse than that. It was murder. This is why Jesus tells us that the devil is a murderer and a liar.

John 8:44
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Through lies and deception, the devil deceived Eve into committing spiritual suicide. Though Eve took the fruit, as did Adam, the devil’s role in the fall of man earned him the epithet of murderer. But because Adam sinned willfully[6], he transferred his allegiance and authority to God’s archenemy, the devil,[7] who uses part of his pilfered authority to execute mankind for sin.

Hebrews 2:14
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil…

Though the devil is a liar and a murderer, he had jurisdiction over the impound lot of life called death. Why do we suffer death? Because of sin. The wages of sin is death. We have to earn it. Not only did Adam earn death for all his progeny, his progeny (that’s us) also brought death upon themselves by involvement in sin. As the psalmist said “We have sinned, even as our fathers did.”[8]

Sin is what gave satan the jurisdictional right of execution. Death was meted out because of sin, but sin against whom? To fully answer this question, we must to look into what we were redeemed from and to whom the price was paid.

[1] From The Tormont Webster’s Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary, © 1987 Houghton Mifflin Company, Tormont Publications, Inc., Montreal, Canada. These are definitions 1a and 6.
[2] Greek opsonion – a soldier’s pay.
[3] 2 Sam 12:9
[4] He also enjoys violent crime, but usually through secondary agents. He is a coward that seldom does his own dirty work.
[5] Gen 3:19
[6] Adam was not deceived as Eve was (1 Tim 2:14). This means that he sinned with full knowledge. As such, he is called a covenant-breaker by God (Hosea 6:7 NIV).
[7] Luke 4:6
[8] Ps 106:6 NIV