Many people want to know how to experience freedom from the heavy weight and bondage of sin. We are set free by love! Notice this verse in the Amplified version:
“who [willingly] gave Himself [to be crucified] on our behalf to redeem us and purchase our freedom from all wickedness, and to purify for Himself a chosen and very special people to be His own possession, who are enthusiastic for doing what is good” (Titus 2:14 AMP).
Many believers have attempted to find freedom from the sins that plague us through so many different methods, and yet many remain held fast by the cords of bondage. Overeating, impurity, greed, gossip, slander, sinful anger, and more trap and hinder us in our relationship with God and others. Even worse, every time we give in to the specific sin that easily trips us up, the burden of it becomes more substantial, our bondage more severe, our guilt more unbearable. Our struggle is not a new one.
After decades of sinning against God, committing spiritual adultery through idol worship, and other forms of rebellion, God’s people, the Israelites were in a similar condition. They carried a massive weight of sin and bondage on their national shoulders. But at the time of the prophet Hosea, Israel was unconcerned about their sin problem.
To get their attention and communicate His message to His people, God told His prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute as an illustration of how the Israelites had prostituted themselves to foreign lovers. So, Hosea married Gomer, a prostitute, and they had children. God told Hosea to name one of his children Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “Unloved,” also translated as “No Mercy,” and another Lo-Ammi, meaning “Not My People,” for God had said, “For you are not my people, and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:9).
Soon after she married Hosea, Gomer returned to her life of prostitution, going away from her husband into the arms and bed of another lover, as a picture of the nation of Israel's spiritual adultery committed against God, her Husband.
God was appropriately angry with Israel for her adultery, but in love, He did not respond with hate. Instead, while Israel was still in her shame, God made a promise about a time coming when something would be done about the national sin of Israel:
“Yet the number of the sons of Israel Shall be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, "You are not My people," It will be said to them, "You are the sons of the living God." Then the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel shall be gathered together, And they will appoint for themselves one leader, And they will go up from the land, For great and glorious will be the day of Jezreel.” Hosea 1:10-11 (Amplified Bible - AMP)
Despite their sin and God’s turning away from the Israelites, He offers hope. A time would come when all Israel would gather under one Leader and flourish under Him. "...if we are faithless, He remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself." (2 Timothy 2:13)
But there was something that needed to happen before they would gather under that Leader. God wanted to illustrate this special event, so He said this to Hosea:
Then the Lord said to me, "’Go again, love a woman (Gomer) who is beloved by her husband and yet is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love the raisin cakes [used in the feasts in pagan worship].’ 2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley [the price of a common slave]” (Hosea 3:1-2 AMP).
Can you imagine the scene? Hosea loved his wife deeply, but she was running after other lovers. Gomer's sin is heartbreaking to Hosea, but because of his love for her, he goes to purchase her back, to redeem her from her adulteries. Watch as Hosea takes silver and barley and makes the payment (the price of a common slave), buying his wife out of an adulterous relationship, bringing her back to himself in love. He has loved her, paid for her, and reclaimed her; she is his!
Oh, friend, please don't miss the point of this story! See God loving you amid your sin as He sends Jesus to purchase you out of your slavery to sin. Feel His love explode into your heart as you watch Jesus go up to His cross on Calvary's hill. He has taken with him not silver and barley, but something much more costly, His own body and blood! And there, as He hangs naked, in darkness and suffering, He has taken your sin away, wholly forgiven you, and purchased your freedom! "who [willingly] gave Himself [to be crucified] on our behalf to redeem us and purchase our freedom from all wickedness, and to purify for Himself a chosen and very special people to be His own possession, who are enthusiastic for doing what is good" (Titus 2:14). Yes, you, like Gomer, have been set free by love. By the purchase price of Another, who loved you and gave Himself for you. “Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10 AMP).
In 1880, Fanny Crosby wrote these lyrics that have touched so many hearts as they testify of how Jesus paid the ransom for us:
Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain.
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see.
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
Love paid the ransom for me.
Take a moment to consider how Gomer must have felt. She knew what she was doing was wrong; she was living in adultery, having turned from the one who loved her to another who would only use her, covered in sin and guilt. She probably thought she would be abandoned to her sin forever; there was no hope of reconciliation; her heart was far from her husband.
But then Hosea came, and she learned that he still loved her! What? Her? And then she discovers that Hosea has paid the price to get her back! He demonstrated his love for her by purchasing her freedom. Can you see her weeping with the realization that she is still loved? Can you see her returning to Hosea, her body wracked with sobs as she blubbers out the words, “How could you still love me!? Don’t you know what I’ve done?!”
And now, understand that you are Gomer! “But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Let yourself be shocked by the Love that went so far as to purchase you to be God’s own possession, His loved wife. Be in awe of what He paid, His own precious blood, to bring you home.
We must never forget the scene unfolded before our eyes. Our Husband, Jesus Christ, wearing a crown of thorns, blood flowing down His body as He loves us unto death, buying us out of sin, marrying us poor harlots, making us His own, loving us to the end of time and throughout all eternity.
“Faith unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom ... By the wedding ring of faith he shares in the sins, death, and hell which are his bride’s. As a matter of fact, he makes them his own and acts as if they were his own and as if he himself had sinned; he suffered, died and descended into hell that he might overcome them all ... Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ, marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all evil, and adorns her with all his goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ, and swallowed up by him. And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of her own …” (Martin Luther, quoted in The Divine Substitute: The Atonement in the Bible and History)
Now, what is your response to this unspeakable love, so deep and so intense toward you?
Hosea said to Gomer, and Jesus says to us, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you” (Hosea 3:3).
Yes, in response to this incredible life-giving love, you want to live the rest of your life in purity, not returning ever again to the arms of sin but living in fidelity and faithfulness to Him who bought you and set you free by grace.
Turn away from overeating with a passion, as if it were a false lover; turn away from overdrinking as if it were the arms of another, turn away from pornography and all forms of impurity as if it was the bed of Satan that caused you to be unfaithful to Jesus who has bled and died for your freedom, and who rose for your justification. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).