“The Blood-Bought Life” (I Peter 1:17-21 sermon)

There is a man in Australia, James Harrison, whose blood is precious. Harrison has an antibody in his blood which is given to mothers whose systems would attack their unborn babies. When they discovered the antibody in his system, about 50 years ago, they were able to create a life-saving medication from his blood, which is now credited with saving more than 2 million babies! That’s 2 million lives saved by one man’s blood. That’s pretty precious blood. But there’s a blood that’s greater: the blood of Jesus, which has saved countless millions not only from death, but also from eternity in hell as well. Our passage this morning talks about that precious blood of Jesus, and the difference it makes in our lives:

“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

The Bible says if you are a Christian, then you have a “Blood-Bought Life”:

I. You Were Bought By The Blood Of Jesus Christ

Verse 18, addressing those of us who are children of God through Jesus Christ, says to us: “you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold … but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

This word “redeemed” means “to liberate,” or “pay a ransom” to set someone free. In Leviticus 25 in the Old Testament, God talked to Israel about how if a man became so poor that he had to sell himself into slavery, that one of his relatives could “redeem” him, or buy him back out of slavery (:49)

Well Jesus said in John 8:34 that every one of us who has sinned has become a “slave to sin.” We “sold ourselves into slavery” as it were, into the hand of sin and Satan, and Ephesians 2 tells us we were under his control. But just like the relatives of a man in the Old Testament could buy him out of slavery, so the Bible says GOD bought US out of slavery. But the price of our redemption was costly.

Psalm 49:7-8 says: “No man can by any means redeem his brother
Or give to God a ransom for him— For the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever.” God says there, you and I can’t pay for the redemption of a soul; It is too much.

What IS the price of the redemption of a soul? What is a man worth?

In the 1800’s, a slave could be bought for $1000-1200 ($20,000 or more in today’s money).

I just read in American Caesar, a biography of General Douglas MacArthur, that during the Japanese siege of Corregidor and Bataan during World War II, MacArthur and the Americans were trapped. A submarine managed to sneak in and bring MacArthur and his troops thirty-seven tons of ammunition. Of course, they could also send something OUT in that same space on the sub, so the General considered loading the gold bullion of the Philippines government on the sub, the Seawolf, so it wouldn’t fall into Japanese hands — but he decided to send his army and navy pilots instead, because he said they were irreplaceable. He later told those pilots that they were ‘literally’ worth their weight in gold! (William Mancheseter, American Caesar, p. 244)
Those pilots should have felt very precious: that they were literally considered more worthy of being taken out of there, than solid GOLD!

But the Bible says to us as Christians: listen, your soul was not just redeemed with silver and gold — but by something infinitely more precious: the blood of Jesus Christ!

Just like Jesus said, we had ALL sold ourselves into slavery to sin and Satan, when we chose to sin. And we should have been left there, and gone to hell — that is what we all deserved! But the Bible says “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” — Jesus came into the world, “the lamb of God,” John said, to die on the cross and pay for our sins with His blood. I John 1:7 says “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” when we put our faith in Him.

So we have been bought out of our slavery to sin and Satan, NOT just with silver or gold, but the precious blood of the Son of God Himself!

Is that true for you? Do you know for sure that you have been bought with the blood of Jesus? You need to make sure — because there is NOTHING else that can save you from your sin:
— going to church won’t save you;
— trying to be good won’t save you;
— being “religious” won’t save you.
It is just like the great song says: “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” If you’ve never done it before, ask God today to save you because the blood of Jesus on the cross — make sure that you have been bought by the blood of Christ.

II. You Should Take Your Life Seriously

Verse 17 says: “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth”.

He says if you call God your Father (in other words, if you claim to be a Christian, and you have been bought by that blood of Jesus) then you should “conduct yourself with fear” during the time of your stay on earth. Now, “conducting yourself with fear” doesn’t mean that you should go around shaking in fear, peeking around every corner, waiting for something bad to happen to you. There are people who do live like that — they’re always afraid that something bad’s about to happen to them. But that is NOT what God is saying here that we should do.

What He IS saying is this: Take your life seriously. God bought you with the blood of Jesus, so your life is valuable. Those pilots who were evacuated from the Philippines had to feel valuable; they took the place of GOLD — so from that day forward they should take their role as pilots seriously. But God says YOU have been bought with something infinitely more precious: the blood of the very Son of God, Jesus Christ, Himself!
In light of that, you should “conduct yourself with fear;” take your life, and your soul, seriously.

On the climactic day of the Battle of Gettysburg, on July 3rd of 1863, General George Pickett was about to lead his fateful charge, across a mile of open field, against the Union line. Just before he led the charge, an officer held out to him a little flask of whiskey, and said, “Take a drink with with me; in an hour you’ll be in hell or glory.”

Well, Pickett refused; he’d promised someone he loved that he wouldn’t drink. But here’s the thing: what that solider to said George Pickett that day is true of every single one of us. In an “hour” — maybe not literally an hour, but I can’t say it’s not for any of us — in what is going to seem to us to be a very short time — every single one of us here today is either going to be in hell, or in glory. (Some of you know I had a step-brother pass away in Kansas this week. His brother had passed a few weeks ago after struggling with cancer for a couple of years — but Jim, who was my age, just passed away unexpectedly in his sleep!) You don’t know when that is going to happen to you. You need to take that seriously.

You need to take your own life seriously. You need to take other people’s lives seriously — like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about how C.S. Lewis wrote that every person you meet will one day either be as glorious as a god, or as hideous as a demon, so he said you take every person you meet seriously. Take your soul, and other people’s eternal souls seriously.

And because your soul matters, and because other people’s souls matter, you need to take the life that you are living here on earth seriously. Listen: you aren’t here by accident. You are not who you are by accident. God created you. He made you who you are, He made you the sex you are, He gave you the gifts and abilities you have; He has a plan for your life; and He thought enough of you to redeem you with the blood of Christ. GOD takes your life seriously, and YOU need to take your life seriously too!

You need to be asking yourself: What did God create me to be doing here on earth? What are you supposed to be doing with your time here? Are you investing your life in serious, important, eternal things — or are you basically squandering it? Are you living the kind of life that someone who has been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, ought to be living?

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had given our high school graduates a book by John Piper, called Don’t Waste Your Life. In it he tells about how there was an 80-year-old woman from their church who was killed overseas while she was on mission. He said, is this a tragedy? His answer was, NO, this is not a tragedy. He said she died, serving Jesus Christ. It’s not tragic to invest your life in something like that.
And then he said: “I’ll tell you what’s tragic.” And he pulled out an article from Readers Digest, which talked about a couple named “Bob & Penny,” who took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast some years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. He said, now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball, and collect shells.” Piper said; “Now THAT’S a tragedy … As the last chapter (of your life unfolds, and) you stand before the Creator of the Universe to give an account of what you did, are you going to say: “Here it is, Lord—my shell collection”?! Or I’ve got a good swing. Or look at my boat.” He said, THAT is a tragedy; if you aren’t living your life for anything bigger than that. (Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a hobby or getting some recreation; we all need that — but you don’t want to live your LIFE for these things. If you do, THAT is a tragedy!

That is what I Peter is talking about here. God made you; and God bought you, with the blood of Jesus. You need to take your life seriously, and DO the important things that God has called you to do with your precious life.
Which means:

III. You Should Live Differently

We talked about this last week: how God has called us to be holy, because He is holy. Here he expands on that idea some more. He talks in :18 about how you were “redeemed FROM the futile way of life inherited from your forefathers” by the blood of Jesus. The word “from” there is literally “out of.” You were bought OUT OF your old way of life by the blood of Jesus. This is important to understand. You are not just “washed” of your sins, you were BOUGHT OUT of your sinful lifestyle by the blood of Jesus, so that now you can live a new and holy life, and live differently.

Revelation 1:5 says that Jesus “loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood.” That is important language. It doesn’t just say He “forgives” our sins, but that He “RELEASED” us from them — He has set us free so that we do not have to continue in them any longer! If Jesus is really in your life, your life is going to be different than it used to be.

There is a bumper sticker expression that is “true” in a way, but which we need to careful about. You’ve probably seen it; it says: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” Well that’s true. We aren’t Christians because we are so good; we are Christians because we have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus, as we just saw, NOT by our own goodness.

BUT we need to be careful that we don’t use that as an excuse, and have the attitude: “Well, I’m not any different from anyone else; I have the same sins they do, the only difference is that my sins are forgiven and theirs aren’t.” NO! That should not be the only difference. If you are a Christian, your sins HAVE been forgiven by the blood of Jesus, you HAVE been washed — but you have also been BOUGHT by the blood of Jesus OUT of your old worldly lifestyle, and you should not be living in that any more. You’ve been bought OUT of it! Jesus didn’t buy you from your sins with His blood for you to just keep living in the same old sins!

In his epic biography of Abraham Lincoln, Carl Sandburg tells the story of a beautiful young slave woman, who was being sold at the slave auction in Lexington, Kentucky in the 1800’s. A Frenchman from New Orleans and a minister, Calvin Fairbank, were going back and forth in the bidding, which kept getting higher and higher. It went past $1000, past $1200, past $1400, then she was finally sold for $1585 — an enormous price in those days. The minister, Fairbank, had won. The auctioneer gave the young woman to the minister and said, “What are you going to do with her?” Fairbank said: “Free her.” He bought her, at a very costly price, to set her free. (Sandburg, Lincoln, p. 93)

And we need to understand that this is just what Jesus has done for US! He saw how we had sinned against God, and all the misery that our sin brought into our lives. So He came to earth to die on the cross to “redeem us OUT FROM of our sins.” He didn’t redeem us so that we could just STAY in our sins; He redeemed us FROM our slavery to our sins — so that we could turn from our sins and live the new, holy life that God planned for us to live.

So if you have been bought by the blood of Christ, you will NOT be content to just stay in your same old sins. You CAN’T be content in them! If you are content to just keep committing the same old sins, it is one of the best evidences that you have never truly become a Christian at all. When you have truly been bought by the blood of Christ, you will live differently. God’s Spirit inside of you will not LET you be content with your old life. He’s bought you for something better than that.

What if that Minister Calvin Fairbank had bought the young slave girl that day at the market in Kentucky, and set her free — and then came back some months later and found her, toiling again as a slave in a Lexington Kentucky plantation? He would be furious! He would say, “This is NOT what I bought her for! I bought her for the purpose of taking her OUT of this!”

But I wonder how many of us today the Lord might look at and say that same thing: “This is NOT what I bought you for!”
— as He looks at what you’re doing with your body, would He say: “This is not what I bought you for!”
— as He watches some of the choices you’re making, would He say, “This is NOT what I bought you for!”
— as He sees you wasting your time and your money as the precious moments of your life tick by, would He say to you: “This is NOT what I bought you for!”
Think about it: what in YOUR life today might cause Jesus say to you: “THIS IS NOT WHAT I BOUGHT YOU FOR!”?

God bought you, with the ultimate price: the precious blood of His Son. He redeemed you. And since He’s redeemed you, He wants you to take your life as seriously as He took it when He paid for your sins. And He wants you to live differently. He wants you to live a better life than you used to live. He wants you to live the abundant life that He purchased for you, with the precious blood of His Son.
— If you are a Christian, are you taking your life as seriously as you should?
What is your purpose? What does God have you here for?
— Is there anything in your life that God might point at and say, “This is NOT what I bought you for!”?  If so, confess and turn from that right now …
— If today you would say, I am not sure I HAVE been bought with the blood of Jesus. You can make sure right now!  Ask Jesus to forgive you, come into your life, and help you follow Him in a brand new life from this day forward. He will!

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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