Colossians 1: 13, 14
No Longer Slaves… I’m no longer a slave to fear. You rescued me so I could stand and sing; I am a child of God.
We sing about forgiveness and freedom but some of us struggle to fully experience it. We’re not going to focus on what to do to make “a new you,” but rather on who we are; or more correctly, whose we are. It’s not what we need to do but what’s already been done for us by Christ.
We live in an age where it’s becoming increasingly important to safeguard our identity. We also need to make sure we guard our spiritual identity because according to Jesus in John 10: 10, Satan is a thief who comes “to steal and kill and destroy.” Revelation 12: 10 says that our Adversary accuses believers “day and night before our God.” One of the best ways to protect our spiritual identity is to guard who God says we are.
The Apostle Paul had never been to the city of Colossae but became alarmed when he heard that some false teaching had infiltrated these new believers. The message was that they had to do more and to view Christ differently. In essence they were being told that Christ was not enough. As a result, Paul lifted up the pre-eminence of Christ and the position of the Christian. To help us see that we are forgiven and free in Christ, let’s focus on 4 indispensable ingredients of our identity in Christ.
1. We’ve been Rescued from Satan v. 13a
At the moment we receive Christ, we are immediately delivered from the domain of darkness. The word “delivered” is emphatic and was used of snatching someone from severe and acute danger. What you see in war movies when a soldier pulls an injured comrade to safety.
Apart from Christ everyone is under the authority of the evil one and in bondage to sin. Proverbs 5: 22 “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.” Jesus said - John 8: 34 “everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin.”
There are only 2 options – you are either in the domain of darkness and under the dominion of the Deceiver or you have been transferred into the kingdom of the beloved Son, under His reign and rule. There is no middle ground.
2. We’ve been Re-established to Serve v. 13b
We’ve been taken out of one realm and taken into another; we’ve been rescued from Satan and reestablished to serve in the kingdom. The word “transferred” was used to describe a change of place or condition. In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was customary to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it totally to the conqueror’s land.
When God sets prisoners free, it’s always for the purpose of bringing them into His own kingdom. Isaiah 43: 1 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” We go from slavery to sin to slavery to service - Romans 6: 18 “And, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” We will either serve Satan and self or the Saviour. As the song goes, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody!”
“Beloved Son” literally means, “the son of His love.” This echoes back to the baptism of Jesus when the Father declared in Mark 1:11: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” and in Mark 9:7 at the Transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
I like how the commentator Lightfoot translates verse 13: “Yes, by a strong arm he rescued us from the lawless tyranny of darkness, removed us from the land of our bondage, and settled us as free citizens in our new and glorious home, where His Son, the offspring and representative of His love, is King.”
We’ve been rescued from Satan and we’ve been reestablished to serve. The 3rd indispensable ingredient of our identity in Christ is that…
3. We’ve been Redeemed by the Saviour v. 14a
None of this is possible in our own merits - It’s only in Him, by Him, because of Him and for Him! As the Reformers would say, “Soli Deo Gloria!” The concept of “redemption” goes back to the market when a slave was released from captivity through the paying of a ransom price. The word was also used for the release of prisoners of war by the paying of a ransom. This idea was rooted in the OT as seen in Deuteronomy 15: 15 “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you.”
“We have” is in the present tense, meaning that redemption is our current and continuous possession because in Christ we are once and for all time liberated from bondage. Our redemption is not just for now; it’s for eternity.
Jesus has fully paid the price of ransom, satisfying the demands of a holy God. Here’s how Jesus said it in Mark 10: 45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” When He died, He triumphantly proclaimed, “It is finished,” which means, “the debt has been paid.”
Martin Luther, before his conversion, was tormented by the guilt of his sins. He felt like he was a slave to sin and didn’t know how to break free. After he was saved he renamed himself - “Martin the Free.” Let me rename some of you right now [walk around…Eddie the Free, Saartjie the Free, Butch the Free, Sharon the Free]
If you’re born again through faith in Christ alone, you can say, “I’ve been rescued from Satan, I’ve been reestablished to serve, and I’ve been redeemed by the Saviour.” There’s one final ingredient of our identity found in this passage…
4. We’ve been Released from our Sins v. 14b
To “forgive” has the idea of “releasing, sending away and removal.” We are released from the power of sin and from the penalty for having sinned. Some of you don’t believe that you’re forgiven. Here are some verses to write down when you feel like God won’t forgive you:
• Psalm 103: 12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
• Micah 7: 19 “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
• Colossians 2: 13, 14 “And you, who were dead in your trespasses…God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
Did you hear the key words? Remove our transgressions. Cast all our sins. Cancelling the record of debt. Set aside, nailing it to the cross. Still think you’ve sinned too much and too greatly? Do you feel like you’re disqualified because of your disobedience? Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 7: 47 “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven.” Are you feeling condemned and burdened by false guilt and incessant shame? If so, commit Romans 8: 1 to memory: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
If you are in Christ as a born again believer you have been…• Rescued from Satan • Reestablished to serve • Redeemed by the Saviour • Released of your sins
None of this will happen unless you put your faith in Christ! If we want to be forgiven and free, we must give an honest assessment of our situation. We are complete in Christ…there’s nothing more that we need to do because it’s already been done for us.
At the heart of what it means to be a Christian is to receive a new identity. We are given freedom from the penalty of sin (justification) and the power of sin (sanctification) and one day we will be free from the presence of sin (glorification).
We’ve been declared forgiven and free because we’ve been… • Rescued from Satan • Reestablished to serve • Redeemed by the Saviour • Released of our sins