To begin with we humans had nothing that needed redeeming. But in the span of just two chapters in Genesis we lost everything. And it’s what we lost that God is redeeming. He’s restoring us back to what we had in the Garden of Eden.
So what did we have back then? In Adam we see that humans had three things: a SPIRIT that enables us to relate to God who is spirit, a MIND that enables us to think and decide for ourselves, and a BODY that enables us to function independently. Put all three together – spirit, mind and body – and they perfectly equipped us humans to become God’s very own children, capable of fulfilling his purpose for his creation with wisdom and love, and in bodies that could last forever.
I imagine God took whatever time was needed, therefore, to get all this into Adam’s head so that Adam was fully aware of what God had created him with, and what for. He also gave Adam a perfect companion in Eve to talk all this over with, and with their offspring discover just what God had in mind in creating such a world to live in.
But all that was lost when a crafty creature told Adam and Eve that God was not being truthful with them. And, first of all, it affected their spirit that had given them their wonderful, open relationship with God, because now they wanted to hide from him instead. It affected their minds too, because they felt guilt and fear, and they were embarrassed about being naked. And instead of their bodies living forever, their bodies would die. So in spirit, mind and body they were dealt a fatal blow.
But a fatal blow forever? No, because Jesus took that fatal blow on himself as a human being, by being hit in his spirit, mind and body too.
Jesus was hit in his spirit, for instance, when he cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” For those few shattering moments his relationship with God was lost. And in the agonizing hours before the cross, his mind was so distressed he appealed to his disciples to pray for him, something he’d never done before. He even resorted to begging God to change his plan. But as God willed, Jesus went to the cross and the death of his body. In spirit, mind and body, then, Jesus experienced the loss of all three as a human too, because that’s what it took to redeem us from the fatal blow on our spirit, mind and body that evil and our disobedience had inflicted on us. But that’s not all that his sacrifice did for us; it also set the scene for the Holy Spirit to restore us in our spirit, mind and body as well.
We see that in Romans 8. In verse 16, for instance, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children,” so it’s through the Holy Spirit that our relationship with God is restored. And in verse 6, “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace,” so the Holy Spirit restores our minds as well. And then in verse 11, “life” is given “to your mortal bodies through his Spirit,” so “the redemption of our bodies” is included in the work of the Holy Spirit too, verse 23.
So in spirit, mind and body the Holy Spirit is restoring us back to what we humans had in the Garden of Eden – with one major addition in verse 26, that “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” We now have the Holy Spirit “interceding for us with groans that words cannot express,” so that we are “in accordance with God’s will,” verse 27. And that’s hugely important, because it was NOT being in accordance with God’s will that caused the loss of everything we humans had in Eden.
In answering the question, then, “What does it take to redeem a human being (and restore us back in spirit, mind and body to what we had)?” – it took Jesus experiencing what we lost, or “personally taking on our human condition,” verse 3 (The Message), and now it takes the moment by moment dedication of the Holy Spirit helping us to trust and obey God, so that we don’t do what Adam and Eve did.