“In Him we have deliverance through His blood — liberation from trespasses — according to the riches of His grace, which abounds to us in all wisdom and understanding,”
Do we really think of our deliverance from sins as “liberation”? Sadly, I fear that we do not. In America today, we don’t have much personal experience with slavery in a formal sense and we are accustomed to having freedoms to move and go where we wish. During my years in seminary, I worked with homeless men, many of whom were drug addicts and former drug addicts. Particularly amongst the latter group, I got a taste for the gratitude that comes along with being delivered from this horrible addiction. Today, there are many that are addicted to other sorts of sins — pornography, for example, and gambling. Therein, we can also get a sense of what it means to be delivered from something oppressive. And the most basic response to real deliverance is gratitude.
Genuine gratitude is easy to see. It shows in the way people live and in their change of thinking. It shows in their desire to please the one who has delivered them. Think of how people often respond (and rightly so) to first responders who deliver them from the jaws of death, whether it be from a fire or an accident somewhere. People go to great lengths to honor those first responders as a demonstration of their gratitude. And again, it is right and proper to do so. Yet, what does our gratitude toward God look like with respect to this great salvation that is offered in Jesus Christ? How do we show our gratitude for His delivering us? Sadly, we often don’t.
Our gratitude or ingratitude toward God for this deliverance is proportional to how seriously we take our sin and its consequences. If we really recognize that our sins (even the “little” ones) are outward rebellion against God and are worthy of the fires of eternal hell, then we will show much gratitude. But, if we look at our sins as nothing more than bad habits that need to be addressed and corrected through therapy or will-power, then our lives will hardly be marked by the gratitude we are called to give. They will be marked by an obedience to God that is pragmatic (this seems to work for me) and that is is not fundamental to one’s very existence. We will never see this deliverance as something that truly comes from the “riches” of God’s grace until we really come to terms with this notion of being delivered from our bondage to sin and death.