You Were Ransomed

1 Peter 1:17-19 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.


Good morning, Grace. In order to honor God when life is hard for honoring God, Peter tells us to continue believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ and to order our entire lives around it. Specifically, we are to order our lives around the gospel by hoping fully in grace, being holy, and, as we saw last week, conducting ourselves continually in the fear of God in light of the knowledge that God’s judgment is continually upon us.

In our passage for this morning, Peter expands on the mindset Christians are to have as we conduct ourselves with fear in our suffering. God is fiercely holy and judges his not-yet-morally-pure people continually in light of his holiness. We must, therefore, fear God and conduct ourselves according to that fear. But, Peter writes, we must always do so in full knowledge of the gospel. Specifically, we must do so in the knowledge that even though God’s judgment will reveal remnants of our former futile life, it is not on that basis that he will ultimately judge us; rather, it is on the basis of our having been ransomed by the precious blood of Jesus from our futile life and all its remnants.

Our commitment to expository preaching means that quite often I preach on passages that I probably wouldn’t pick to preach on if left to my own agenda (which is one exceedingly significant reason why expository preaching is so important). This morning, however, is one of those passages that loves to be preached. You’d be hard pressed to find a more succinct summary of the glorious good news of the Christian faith. We’re all in for a treat this morning. I’ve already been feasting all week. I invite you now to join me in the banquet.

Let’s pray that God would cause us to conduct ourselves in the fear of the Lord in our time of exile, but to always do so dominated by the knowledge of our redemption in Christ.

Because all mankind is sinful by nature, by itself God’s holy nature would only be a terrifying thing. We are all guilty of falling short of the holiness God demands. What’s more, the wages of our sin-produced guilt is death. That is a scary reality to consider.

Without any outside intervention, then, the only thing we would know is fear of God as his judgment bore down upon us. But, Peter reminds his readers, Christians are not left to experience God’s unbridled holiness, we are not left in our guilty state, and we are not left without any outside intervention.

1 Peter 1:17-19 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Thus, while God’s holiness remains, and remnants of our sin remains, and, therefore, while a healthy fear of God remains as well, fear is not the only thing we feel toward God. Indeed, Peter writes, it is not even the primary thing we are meant to feel toward God. Rather than being dominated by fear, vs.18-19 let us know that there is a deeper reality that is meant to dominate us: the reality that we’ve been ransomed from our sin.

But what exactly does it mean to be ransomed?

What does it mean to be ransomed?
Simply, to be ransomed in the sense Peter uses the term means, “to be delivered by the payment of a price”. According to this definition there are four key components to a ransom.

  1. There must be someone/thing held against its will (that which needs to be delivered).
  2. There must be a captor demanding payment (the one who holds the thing/person against their will).
  3. There must be a person willing to pay the ransom price (the one seeking to rescue the captive).
  4. There must be a price (the amount demanded for the release of whatever is being held against its will).

Typically we think of a ransom in relation to a kidnapping. In this example a child is held against his will by a kidnapper demanding a ransom payment for his release, and the parents are the ones who must pay the ransom price of a certain amount of money.

Of course Peter isn’t talking about being ransomed from a kidnapping. But what, then, is he talking about? Let’s consider the nature of the ransom of v.18 by considering each of the four key components to any ransom.

Who has been ransomed?
In v.18 Peter writes, “you were ransomed…”. Who is the “you”? Or who does Peter say was ransomed? Before answering that question, I want to first ask a slightly different question: who is in need of being ransomed? Or who has been held against their will?

The scriptures are clear on the fact that all people—even if unknowingly—are born in captivity, in slavery and therefore are in need of rescue or deliverance.

Romans 6 repeatedly states that all people are by nature “slaves of sin.”

Jesus himself, in John 8:34, teaches, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

In Titus 3:3 Paul writes, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures…”.

And Hebrews 2:15 says all people are naturally “through fear of death [rather than God] subject to lifelong slavery.”

Again, the point here is that all people are born in bondage to sin. That is, all people, from birth, are by nature enslaved by sin, and are therefore in need of being ransomed from sin.

However, while everyone is born into sin’s captivity and requires a ransom to escape its mastery and wages, Peter does not say that everyone is ransomed. The “you” in v.18 refers to the same group as the “you” in v.17: those who rightly call on God as Father.

Peter is writing to Christians, reminding them to stand strong in their suffering by reminding them that they have already been ransomed.

What have we been ransomed from?
As we just saw, ultimately Christians have been ransomed from the bondage/captivity of sin. Sin was our master and we have been ransomed from it. However, Peter is a bit more specific in this passage about the particular hold sin had on us.

He writes that we have been ransomed “from the futile ways inherited from [our] forefathers.” Since Adam, there have been no first generation sinners. Sin is always inherited and sin is always futile. Our parents (who inherited it from their parents, who inherited it from their parents, who inherited it from their parents, all the way back to our first parents) passed down their corrupted nature and practices.

Because we inherited their corrupted nature sin easily and unavoidably captured us and became our master. And because sin has had mastery over mankind since the beginning, we have also inherited our ancestor’s futile ways of doing things. As we learned from our forefathers, we all seek satisfaction and life and joy and rescue in things that cannot bring them and only further sin’s hold over us, utter futility.

What’s worse, unlike normal captors who are forced to submit against their wills, we choose to submit to our captor. We cannot escape sin’s captivity on our own, but we don’t want to!

The good news that Peter declared to his readers, those rightly calling on God as Father, is that they had been ransomed back from all of this—from sin’s mastery, its bondage, its twisted appeal, its generational hold, and it’s futile, deadly ways.

Who put up the payment on our behalf?
But in order for this to happen, someone needed to put up the ransom price. The price, as we will see, was steep. Indeed, the price was beyond the means of all but One. This too we saw last week. It is the Father alone who possesses the means to ransom mankind, and it was therefore the Father who offered up the ransom payment on our behalf.

There’s something amazing here. I don’t want you to miss it.

When I was a boy, my dad collected his coins in a large bottle. Each day he’d come home from work (or wherever) and put his all of his loose change in this bottle. When it finally filled up he’d dump it out somewhere and begin putting it all in rolls to take to the bank. I remember being amazed by the amount of money he had. I also vividly remember counting the coins one time. We were on a blanket in the back yard and there were hundreds of pennies, nickels, and dimes (quarters didn’t fit in this jar). At some point in the process I decided to slide a handful of coins under me to keep for myself. I tried to steal from my dad. He caught me. But rather than punish me or send me to jail, he gave me a roll of coins for myself. The very person I’d tried to rob gave me more than I’d tried to take for myself.

Grace, before we get to the specific price which God put up for us, consider again the amazing reality that the very one who we rebelled against and declared war on is the very one who put up the ransom price on our behalf. The one whose rule we rejected, ransomed us from the one we rejected him for. Be amazed by this, Grace. There’s power to persevere in suffering when we remember that the suffering we experience results from the sin-master we willingly served, and that we were rescued from it by the Father we rejected.

As children of God we have been ransomed from the captivity of sin inherited from our first parents by the God we rejected. And all of this leads us to the final point and the center of Peter’s plea: the price offered by the Father on our behalf.

What was the ransom price?
What was the ransom price? Oh what a price it was! To make sure we grasp the magnitude of what it cost the Father, before stating it positively, Peter states negatively.

Negatively he reminds us that we were not ransomed “with perishable things such as silver or gold.” Those things would never do. Sin demands a much higher payment than what perishable, temporary things can provide. We were not, therefore, ransomed by anything that decays or wears out. Our souls are worth more to sin than all the gold and silver and perishable things in this world. Indeed, nothing in this world could satisfy sin’s ransom demands. What price, then, is high enough to ransom us? What price could the Father possibly pay to purchase us back from sin?

Grace, Peter reminds the children of God that we were ransomed with the one and only thing valuable enough to release sin’s grip. We were ransomed by the Father offering “the precious blood of Christ.”

The Father offered up his one and only Son as a ransom for his people. Indeed, as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

I want you to quickly notice three things here in order to help you see the preciousness of the blood and therein gain all the help for holiness God means you to have in it. First, from the beginning God made it plain that blood would be required for sin.

In Genesis 22 God provided a lamb to be killed as a substitute sacrifice for Abraham.

In Exodus 12, it was the blood of a lamb that God used to save Israel from his wrath.

Exodus 12:1-13 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt…3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that … every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household… 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old … 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it… It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

In light of God’s covenant promises to his people through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, we read,

Exodus 24:5-8 And [Moses] sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

As an annual reminder of the uniqueness of blood to atone for the sins of God’s people, the Lord commanded Moses, “You shall make an altar on which to burn incense; you shall make it of acacia wood… 10 Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year. With the blood of the sin offering of atonement he shall make atonement for it once in the year throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD” (Exodus 30:1, 10).

From there, there, under the law of Moses, God’s people were required to repeatedly offer blood sacrifices to atone for their sin. For centuries and generations, the lives of God’s people largely revolved around the blood of animals as a means of atoning for their sin. The preciousness of the ransom blood of Jesus is only highlighted by the fact that it was able to do, once for all, what the blood of countless lambs could not do.

Second, more still the preciousness of this Lamb’s blood, the preciousness of the ransom price paid on our behalf, is greater than we could possibly imagine. Grace, the blood offered by the Father on our behalf is the blood of the one who….

Hebrews 1:3 …is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

John 1:14 became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 1:15-20 … is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Philippians 2:9-11 God has highly exalted ..and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Revelation 1:14-16 The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

Indeed, it is the blood of a lamb “without blemish or spot.” It is the blood of the Son of God, the eternal second person of the Trinity. It is the blood of Jesus alone that was valuable enough to serve as the ransom price for our sins. Knowing the preciousness of the one who gave his blood helps us to honor God in our exile.

And third, notice the connection between the preciousness of the blood of Jesus and the call to holiness issued by Peter just a few verses earlier. The preciousness of this price is meant to make us grateful beyond words, but also cause our stomachs to turn at the thought of ever, ever spitting on it by continuing in sin.

If the ransom price had been a stick of gum, we might not think much about mocking the Father’s generosity by returning to sin. But knowledge of the fact that the price was the blood of his only Son is meant to show us the disgusting nature sin such that we wouldn’t even contemplate returning to it. There is great power for holiness in suffering as we consider the great suffering that was required for our holiness.

Again, then, the point of all of this is that it’s hard to suffer at all, much less suffer well, much less suffer in a manner that displays God’s glory. If we are going to do so, then, Peter teaches that we must do so “knowing that [we] were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [our] forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

The main context of these two verses (1:18, 19) is one of weightiness. Conducting ourselves according to our fear of God during our time on earth is serious business. This passage is not meant to be read or practiced flippantly. However, the main tone of these two verses (1:18-19) is one of hope and excitement and glory.

Because sin remains in us and outside of us, because we are exiles on this earth, insofar as we seek to honor God, this life is hard until Christ returns. There is much suffering in this life because of sin. There are many people who are hostile to the gospel and those who believe it. Our own hearts still struggle to submit to God at times. And yet, in all of this, for Christians, there is a higher knowledge that is meant to instruct and inform and shape and mold our hearts and minds and actions in our exile; the knowledge that we have been ransomed by the precious blood of Jesus.

We will suffer, Grace, but we must always do so knowing that no amount of suffering can wash away what the Lamb’s blood has washed away. And we must always do so knowing that Jesus has made certain that whatever we might lose on earth pales in comparison to what awaits us in heaven. In the name of Jesus, the Lamb without blemish or spot, amen.