Ruin and Redemption
James Smith, 1860
Israel is the type and looking-glass of the church. In the heart of that people — we see our own hearts; and in the conduct of that people — we see our own conduct. They bring out God's character, and set before us the nature of the divine government. What they did — we do; and what the Lord did for them — he does for his people now.
When Israel was in bondage to the Chaldeans, and were groaning under their iron yoke, the prophet bore testimony against them, and delivered a gracious message from God to them. A message to exercise faith, excite hope, fire them with courage, and fill them with comfort. His message was, "Thus says the Lord: You have sold yourself for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money!" Isaiah 52:3.
Their conduct was dishonest, their sin was great, their situation was dreadful, their sufferings were extreme — and their deliverance was to be gratuitous. They were the authors of their own misery — and God alone would be the author of their deliverance. They suffered from their own sin — but they were to be delivered alone by his grace. Such is our condition; and, blessed be God — such is our mercy!
We have sold ourselves. Man was once free. He was holy. He was happy. No creature was more indulged in all God's universe. But he became dissatisfied with his lot. He listened to the tempter. He yielded to temptation. He got as far from God as he could. He surrendered himself into the hands of Satan. He came under the power and authority of the prince of darkness, who took possession of him, ruled him, and reduced him to a state of the most abject slavery! Thus he forfeited his liberty, his peace, his possessions, and his all!
He was now a traitor — a rebel in arms against God. He sympathized with Satan in his enmity to, and opposition against God. He sold himself, as far as he could, out of God's hands; and gave God's sworn foe the dominion over himself. It was his own act and deed. It was done willingly — for no coercion was employed. He did it knowingly — for he was not deceived. He did it, though warned against it, and threatened with terrible consequences if he did.
What he did — we as his posterity assented to. As soon as we were capable — we gave our consent to the bargain, and testified our approval of his conduct by imitating it as nearly as we could. We sold ourselves for nothing, for all we got for our bargain was vanity, falsehood, and suffering! O the folly we displayed! O the sin we committed! O the misery we entailed upon ourselves!
We sold ourselves — but to whom? Satan was the purchaser. He presented the bait — and we took it! He made the offer — and we accepted it! Thus we sold ourselves to the greatest tyrant, the most degraded being, the most hardened monster in the universe! By sin we subjected ourselves to him, and by sinning we continue under that subjection. God's justice had a claim upon us, and will not, cannot give up that claim — and therefore our purchaser is made both our jailor and our tormentor — and is employed by justice to inflict punishment upon us.
Sin not only gave Satan power over us — but delivered us over to death. We are therefore separated from God, the fountain of life; deprived of all moral and spiritual power; and are exposed to all the horrors of banishment from God, and the vengeance of eternal fire! In selling ourselves — we lost the freedom of the will, which came under a sinful bias, and we were enthralled by evil, and reduced to bondage by Satan. We parted with the purity and holiness of our nature — and became polluted and unclean. We gave up our rectitude and righteousness — and came under guilt and disgrace. Our conscience being defiled, turned against us; so that we became the slaves of fear and shame! Happiness and comfort — gave place to misery and woe! Health and strength — gave place to disease and weakness! And paradise, with all its beauty and blessedness — gave place to a waste-howling wilderness.
Thus we were degraded, rendered wretched, and exposed to all possible misery! Earth would have been turned into hell, and every one of us would have been tortured with black eternal despair — but for the mercy of God, who had thoughts of peace respecting us. The world, as bad as it is — is not what it would have been, if sin had been allowed to take its natural course. Man, suffer as he may — does not suffer as he would, if mercy had not interfered for him. We sold ourselves for nothing — but God determined that we should be redeemed.
The appointed Redeemer was his only begotten Son. He saw our state. He pitied our condition. He volunteered to effect our deliverance. In the covenant of grace it was arranged, that though he was God — he should become man. That though naturally incapable of suffering — he should be made capable of suffering, that by his sufferings, obedience, and death — he may give unto God a ransom for us. For if we were ever to delivered — our sin must be atoned for, the demands of justice must be met, and the penalty of death must be paid. Satan must be vanquished, death must be abolished, and a perfect righteousness, answerable to all the demands of the law, must be provided.
Here was work which no angel could perform! Here was a task which no created being could undertake! But Jesus had the ability — and he undertook the work. He alone had the love and compassion, necessary to induce him to the task. He alone had sufficient strength and wisdom, to undertake it. He alone could merit our release. He alone pay the price of our ransom. He alone would condescend to stoop so low, for such vile creatures, to effect such an astonishing deliverance.
He is our Redeemer — the Lord Almighty, is his name. He undertook the work, he gave himself as a ransom for us, and he will work out our complete deliverance from Satan, sin, death, hell, and the grave! Thus we are redeemed without money — but not without a price. We are redeemed without paying a price ourselves — but wholly, entirely, and altogether by another. What wondrous grace is here! How free! How sovereign! How glorious!
We stupidly, wickedly, inexcusably, sold ourselves to sin and Satan! We were the sole cause of our own ruin! He, out of his own pure love, undertook to be our Redeemer. He took our nature, became related to our persons, and so acquired a right to redeem; and having acquired the right, he exercised it; and at the expense of his own life — he redeemed us.
What love we owe him! What obedience we should render to him! What praise we should give him! Beloved, do you enjoy redemption? Do you know, love, and obey the Redeemer? Are you trusting in his precious blood, and in his almighty power, to complete your redemption?
If he has redeemed us from sin — he will deliver us from Satan — and ransom us from the power of the grave. Having begun the work — he will complete it, and all his redeemed will ultimately unite in the song, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"