There are several kinds of slavery. One form of slavery was common in the United States during the 1700-1800s: when a man was kidnapped and his freedom was taken from him. Another kind of slavery was common in OT Israel: when a man, because of poverty, sold himself to pay his debt. That man lost his right to freedom because of his debt. He became a lawfully imprisoned or enslaved debtor.
All men are lawfully enslaved to sin and the law (John 8:34; Gal. 3:13). Christ set free from sin and the law all who were given to Him by the Father. He paid God for the debt their sins earned, the wage of sin. God is holy and just and good. All debts must be paid. With God, there is no such thing as forgiveness without just payment. Unjust forgiveness is an abomination to the LORD. “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 17:15). He will neither clear the guilty nor condemn the just (Ex. 34:7). Yet God’s glory is seen by this: our Just God justifies the ungodly (Isa. 45:21; 1 Pet. 3:18; Rom. 4:5)! This He does by imputing to His Son the sins of the elect, who in themselves are ungodly.
The Son of God was eternally chosen and ordained to be the Surety for His people. He owned and paid their debt to God to obtain their redemption (Matt. 20:28; Rom. 11:27). “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” Hebrews 9:15).
When one’s debt is paid, he is set free. In the salvation of His people, Christ liberates the lawfully imprisoned debtor by payment of Himself in blood as the ransom to God for His people (Job 33:23-24).
The chosen sinner is a lawfully imprisoned debtor. He is ungodly and unrighteous and shut up under God’s law (Gal. 3:22-24). The ransom God required is Christ’s life poured out in blood. “Without shedding of blood, there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 10:28).
Christ offered Himself to God. It was God’s truth and justice that we offended. Sin is denying God His right to rule, denying His truth, rebelling against His holy, just and good law. Such offence separates us from God (Isa. 59:2). It brings God’s just wrath upon us (Eph. 2:3; 5:3-6; Col. 3:5-6). It was to God, therefore, that our debt must be paid. Christ crucified is the payment God required. His death made reconciliation for us to God (1 Sam. 29:4; 1 Chr. 29:14; Matt. 5:23-24; Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-21). He made up for the offence our sins had in God by bringing the satisfaction to God He required for our reconciliation (Ps. 85:10). God took the initiative. He removed His just wrath against us by providing Christ, chastising Him with beatings that the sins of all of God's elect deserved (Isa. 53:5; Rom. 8:32). God accepted Christ’s blood as the reconciling payment to His offended justice (Heb. 2:17). The prison in which we were lawfully kept was bondage to the the law and its curse. Redemption is setting the lawfully imprisoned debtor free. It is the forgiveness of all of our sins for Christ’s sake, because He shed His blood (Eph. 1:7; 4:32).
Freedom was obtained when Christ died (Heb. 9:12). But in our experience, freedom comes when we believe (Heb. 9:14). Believing Christ crucified is the operation of God the Holy Spirit (Col. 2:12). It is the sprinkling of the blood of Christ on our conscience (1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13).
All who look to Christ, come to Him. They flee to Him for refuge. We are under bondage. We are enslaved. God’s Gospel declares Christ to be the propitiation for our sins, the reconciliation to God for our offence, the complete payment of the ransom God required for our liberty (2 John 2:1-2; Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 9:12). Hearing the Gospel, we run from our old master to Christ for refuge and safety (Php. 3:4-7; 2 Cor. 3:6-7, 9). Seeing that God took full responsibility to repair the damage our rebellious hostility did to His just, good and holy law; seeing that He made reconciliation for us in the death of His Son, that all of our sins have been taken away and perfect righteousness before God is found in Christ alone, we therefore flee to Christ to be found in Him. In so doing, we find God to be gloriously rich in grace!
The law did not allow the one to whom a slave fled for refuge to return that slave to his master (Deut. 23:15-16)! Christ is our refuge. We flee to Him by faith in Him, that He accomplished our redemption and reconciled us to God by His death. We seek safety in Him from the law and its curse. He will not turn us away. He will not return us to our old master. We were indebted, lawfully imprisoned slaves to God’s law by our sin debt. We were enemies in our minds and by wicked works. Yet Christ paid our ransom with His own life. He reconciled us to God. Christ, by His blood, removed God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9). God-given faith in His blood removes our hostility (2 Cor. 5:20). In place of hostility there is peace. We love our new Master! He will not cast out any who comes to Him! He will save all that the Father has given Him (John 6:37-39; 10:15-18, 27-29; 17:2, 12).