In the first part of this article, we looked at the idea of repentance. Repentance is clearly expected of those who follow Jesus, but repentance alone couldn’t save us.
The only way for us to be redeemed is for our failures (our willful choices to sin, really) to be paid for. When we break God’s rules, whether we sin against Him directly or against people who are made in His image (Genesis 1:27), justice must be served.
However, in God’s love, Jesus (who was fully God and fully human) performed the most selfless act in history, when He traded His perfect life (and the right to peace with God) for us. He took on our punishment – both physical death and separation from God the Father – and extended the gift of reconciliation with God to us. We have true redemption in this salvation, receiving rights from Jesus (and even adoption into His family) as He traded places with us and took our punishment.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
Romans 5:8-11 NLT
Every evil thing that we did – every act of violence, every word of malice, every untruthful claim, and every other offense – was fully and completely paid for. While there are still things that we should strive to do here on earth to make things right with the people we have hurt, Jesus’ redemption fully paid the spiritual debt incurred by our past choices (as well as our present and future failures, since repenting perfectly and completely is still difficult).
With Jesus’ voluntary sacrifice completed, and extended to us as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), we just have to accept it. The Bible describes this process as:
- Turning to God and having faith in Jesus (Acts 20:21)
- Turning to God and being baptized (Acts 2:37-39)
- Placing our faith in God (Hebrews 6:1)
- …and similar explanations in many other passages
Just stopping our self-centered ways (i.e., repentance) isn’t enough. Having sinned for a while and then turning things around isn’t enough to redeem us. Instead, Jesus had to provide for our redemption, since we weren’t able to redeem ourselves.
As a result, with repentance, we must also turn to God and accept this gift of actual redemption. Note that we don’t redeem ourselves: Jesus did that. Our role is just to repent and accept this redemption. The great news is that, when we turn around (like the literal meaning of repentance), we find that Jesus is right there waiting for us.
If you have not found the joy and freedom of repentance from evil (since all of us – including me – have things to repent from), I hope that you will seek it today. Don’t stop there, though: Accept the free gift of redemption that is offered to you. Turn to God and trust that Jesus paid for your salvation. Read through the entire chapters where the passages above are found. Ask God to save you through Jesus, and begin to live as one who has been redeemed in full, gratefully walking with and serving Him.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.