The bill has been paid
In our modern culture we don’t talk much about sin. Sin is breaking the rules of God. Once the rule is broken it causes a debt between us and God. Somehow that debt needs to be paid.
In the book of Isaiah God speaks to his beloved children about their sin.
“But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel! You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense. You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your faults. “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.
Isaiah 43:22-25 – NLT
Later on, he says this:
‘“Pay attention, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I, the Lord, made you, and I will not forget you. I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel.”’
Isaiah 44:21-23 – NLT
God lives in NOW. God is always in the present and somehow, all things past and present and future exist in the NOW of God. His plan for salvation, for redeeming our sins, paying our debt, has always been sending his son Jesus to die in our place. By having God the son die to pay for all sins, God’s justice was satisfied, the sin was paid for, not swept under the rug, the full price was paid in Jesus’ suffering and death. It literally cost God to pay our debt. It caused him pain, it was a sacrifice, but he did it willingly. He gave up his son Jesus. Jesus left heaven, was born as a human, lived life, was subjected to the human condition, he was just like us, except he never sinned.
He lived a perfect life but was killed using the most tortuous way to die, death by pain. The pain of hanging by nails driven through hands and feet slowly suffocates the victim because the pain of getting a breath is overwhelming. The body fights to breath and yet fights against the pain of the act of breathing. Pushing down into the nails driven through the feet in order to raise the rib cage enough to suck in enough air to stay alive, only to be shot full of pain from the nails in the hands, paralyzing the muscles in the arms and upper back. On and on the process goes until the pain actually kills him.
While Jesus was going through all this he uttered this statement, “it is finished “. The debt has been paid.
In Isaiah God may have been looking through the lens of Jesus payment on the cross because he sees things not as past, presentand future but everything is “now”.
Modern people may think, that’s nice Jesus, thanks for doing that, but I’m okay, I’m a pretty good person, better than most people I know, I’m no Mother Teresa but I’m also not Jeffrey Dahmer. I’m closer to Teresa than Jeffrey so I’m going to be okay. We tend to judge and grade ourselves on a curve, thinking that avoiding the big bad sins, murder, infidelity, stealing and adding in some good deeds along the way, picking up litter, holding open doors, being generally nice, giving to the poor occasionally. But have we ever lied? Then we are liars. Have we ever stolen? Then we are thieves. Have we ever lusted for someone we were not married to? Then we are adulterers in our hearts. Have we ever been so angry with someone that we fantasized their untimely death? Then we are murderers in our hearts.
But Gods holiness is beyond reproach. His purity is unmatched, unparalleled, his divine goodness has no shadow or blemish. Where I work we have clean rooms to handle the products that we manufacture. The air is filtered, and the workers are gowned and gloved and masked and netted to keep their dust and hair and cells from polluting our products. God is holy and pure; he cannot tolerate our impurities and yet he loves us. He longs for a way to have us in his presence. Jesus is that link, that clean room, that robing and masking and netting and gloving, his blood covers over our sin. Like a clean room suit, we are covered and yet naked at the same time.
We do have a debt we owe. Jesus has paid it for us, but we must admit that we need his help before we can have our debt washed away.
Later on, Isaiah he gives a more thorough description of the blessings to come.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released, and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations. Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards. You will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches. Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
Isaiah 61:1-7 – NLT
Good news for the poor, comfort for the broken-hearted, freedom for captives, comfort for the mourners, all of this hinges on us seeing our own need.
“For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins.”
Isaiah 64:4-7 – NLT
There it is, in order to break the cycle, to get out of our rut of sin we need to call on God for mercy.
For our sin, our deeply rooted selfishness and rebellion, we owe God our lives, but instead of demanding payment from us only to be disappointed, he paid our debt himself, with his only son Jesus.
How about today we start fresh with God? Confess our need and call out for mercy and forgiveness? Today is a good day to be cleansed and forgiven. Today is a good day to have our debt paid off.