As noted previously, the Swedish theologian, Gustaf Aulen authored a book entitled CHRISTUS VICTOR. He draws from the ransom theory which he calls "classic." The idea is still that humanity is under the control of Satan, sin, and death because of the on-going human condition. But instead of Jesus, by his death, being the ransom which allows humanity to be redeemed back from Satan, Aulen states the theory in such a way as not to put this act on God. Rather, Jesus volunteered his death. There was no payment made to the devil. Jesus, because of his "obedience unto death," effected a defeat-in-principle over the power of evil. This action ends the demonic control over humanity. Satan is defeated, sin does not ultimately control, and death loses its sting.
Other theories focus only on what happens with the cross. This theory has to step beyond that and include the idea of the resurrection. Jesus was willing to die, but with God raising him from the dead, death and sin are defeated. If Jesus had not been raised, his death would have been to no avail. Jesus wins this victory and humanity is given opportunity for reconciliation with God.
This theory does not put God so much in the position of being a blood-thirsty ogre who must be satisfied by the payment of a debt caused by sin. It all occurs because Jesus was willing to take this on himself. In doing so, he demonstrated his love and gave us an image of God's love. Even so, though a victory has been won, it is still up to humanity to respond by faith to what God has done. If we are not willing to cast ourselves upon what has been accomplished by some kind of action (confession of faith, trust in Jesus, ask for forgiveness of sin, etc.) we are still going to be on the outs with God. No real attention to God's grace reaching toward us to accept us regardless. Instead, we must "do something" in relation to Jesus before we are accepted.
What if we don't "do" it right?