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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard . . . For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 3:22–23, 6:23 (NLT)
Have you ever owed someone a debt? Maybe someone did something for you and now you owe them a favor. Maybe you took out student loans, a mortgage, or leased a car and now you owe some institution a lot of money. Maybe you racked up some credit card debt and now you owe the bank.
I’m certain we’ve all, at some point, found ourselves in debt to someone. Personally, I have student loans and a little credit card debt. It’s the absolute worst thing to have that debt hanging over your head . . . always looming, keeping you trapped, bogged down, and chained up.
But do you know what’s awesome? Eliminating a debt! Last year my wife and I were able to eliminate two loans, two credit cards, a few medical bills, and just recently our auto lease payment. It’s such a relief and joyous occasion when that burden of debt is lifted. And for us, the auto lease was a huge double cause for celebration. You see, out of the kindness of their hearts, my in-laws decided to give us their practically brand-new car! No strings attached, no debt, no payments, nothing . . . they just called us up and told us they were giving us their car. So not only did we eliminate a big debt that had been weighing us down for years, but we also got an amazing gift at the same time!
Why am I telling you all this? Simple: Because sin is a debt, friends. Sin is a debt we owe to the sinless, perfect God. This is a term that Jesus Himself equated sin to. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 NIV, emphasis added). It is a large, insurmountable debt that we keep adding to daily, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute. And as much as we try, we can’t stop adding to it, we can’t pay it off, we can’t even make a minimum payment to cover the interest. No amount of works or good deeds would ever eliminate this debt. There is only one way it can be paid . . .
So, what is the ultimate payment that squares our debt of sin to God? Paul tells us in Romans 6:23 (NLT): “The wages of sin is death.” Why? Well, it dates back to the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:16–17 (NIV, emphasis added), God says, “’You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” God made it clear from the beginning what the cost of that fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would be: death. And not just for them, but also for every single one of their descendants, for all those who carry their blood and DNA.
The sin in the Garden of Eden brought immediate spiritual death upon all humanity, and the final debt for one’s sin is the complete death that occurs upon physical death. Thus, in order to cover the debt of sin (which is death), something (or someone) else needed to die in place of the sinner. And that’s exactly what Jesus did! He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.
And here’s the most beautiful thing about it . . . not only did He pay the debt we owed, squaring us with God by His blood on the cross, but He also, like my in-laws, gave us a free gift. And you know what? Just like my wife and I, humanity did nothing to earn this free gift. We didn’t deserve it; we weren’t entitled to it; it certainly wasn’t owed to us. It was given simply because we are deeply loved and valued.
God loves us so much that He made a way to make us right, to square our debt, to bring us back to life. All we need to do to have our debt cleared and receive this amazing free gift is place our faith in Jesus Christ! On Easter, we celebrate the triumphant moment this debt was paid and gift was made.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.