When one listens to most of the messages, of most of the pastors, of most of the churches, in evangelical Christianity one could conclude that God’s goal in redemption was to produce more ethical, morally upright people. That indeed seems to be the goal of most sermons. Redemption will make you a better person is how the theme goes. Week after week, Sunday after Sunday this theme is droned on over and over again. In other words God’s goal in redemption is/was behavior modification. Is this really true? I do not believe it is!
God’s goal in redemption was to re-establish relationship with humanity out of love for his creatures. It was to restore to humanity the understanding of God’s love and acceptance of mankind in spite of mankind’s ability to judge good and evil. It appears that of all the creatures God created man alone has the ability to judge right and wrong, good and evil. Man alone has a sense of ethics and morality.
Lions, tigers, rattlesnakes, grizzly bears merely do what they need to do to survive. They eat when they are hungry and attack if they are confronted. In other words they simply do what they were designed to do. There is no morality in their behavior only natural reactions to varies stimuli.
In fact, this was the great challenge of the fall. In order for humans to judge between good and evil there had to be an ethics of sorts. We had to look to ourselves or to a higher power to establish acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Yes, moral codes are indeed necessary. They preserve life and prevent pain inflicted by greed. However, do they make us acceptable or unacceptable to God? Do they alter God’s view of his purpose in creating us? Does God judge a grizzly bear for being a bear? Of course not!
As we read the story of redemption in the bible it begins with humanity in relationship with God and fully aware of the relationship it has. Further in the story humanity has no idea of right and wrong, good or evil but simply the awareness of being in relationship with God. The analogy is made that humanity could and did walk and talk with God in the cool of the morning. A little further along and humanity partakes of the ability to understand that there is good and evil, right and wrong. Immediately, humanity assumes that it (humanity) is evil for grabbing this knowledge. This judgment is in view of the instruction from God not to. Suddenly there is the awareness of breaking a rule and a wondering of how God views this.
The truth is that God expected it as it was in fact humanity being itself… being what it was created to be…. A morally sentient being. In reality God’s view of this is not different that his view of a bear, lion, rattlesnake etc. Each is being what they were created to be. In the fall, humanity was being what it was created to be.
Now back to redemption and God’s goal... purpose, motive. In Ephesians chapter one it is explained that it was to the praise of his glorious grace. God’s goal in redemption was to re-establish the relationship that He had with humanity before they gained the knowledge of good and evil and thus became moral beings.
Finally, redemption properly understood will assure one of God’s love, acceptance and grace and if we rest in that knowledge by faith it will improve our behavior morally but that was not God’s goal.