Redemption is a picturesque way of looking at what Christ did on the cross. Vividly it brought before first-century men some important aspects of the salvation Christ died to bring… People are by nature slaves to sin. This means more than they occasionally do evil things.

In the state of the modern world it cannot be denied that there is a good deal of evil in the way people live. But it may be held, and it is held by some humanists and others, that this evil is not an insuperable [not able to be overcome] object in the way of human progress.

Man can do good. There is that deep down within him to which appeal may be made and when he responds he can rise above his lesser self and do deeds of altruism. In that lies the future of the human race they say.

When Christians speak of redemption they are emphatically rejecting this whole position (though they do not, of course, deny that people sometimes act altruistically). They are saying that the evil that people do is simply the outworking of the evil that is part of their nature.

Jesus put it this way: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean'” (Mk. 7:20-23).

The evil we do is not accidental and occasional. It arises out of what we are. And being what we are, we can never break free. Our victories are always comparatively small and incomplete; our defeats are always with us and their effects may be calamitous. Redemption reminds us to face the facts of life realistically.[1]


[1] Leon Morris, The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance [Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 1983], 128.