Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to re run a series I wrote a while ago. It is one of the first things I ever wrote, and remains one of my favorites.
Jesus paid it all. That is a very simple statement, with very profound implications. Today begins a multi part series on Jesus’ payment. A good starting point is for us to discuss exactly what Jesus paid for. We will end with a discussion of why we really don’t want to make that payment ourselves.
What did Jesus pay for? Well he paid the necessary payment for our sins, of course. That seems fairly simple, yet the vast majority of the world fails to truly understand exactly what that means. The non believing world, as well as a large part of the “Christian” world totally fails to really understand what the Bible teaches about this issue. Of course the non believing world simply dismisses the issue completely; and within the “Christian” world there are so many perversions and misunderstandings about this issue that they simply cannot be counted.
This series will be a close examination of some of the truths contained in the simple statement, “Jesus paid it all.” In this first part, we will simply discuss the nature of both our sin debt and the payment Jesus made on our behalf for that debt.
Let’s talk about sin. In its simplest meaning, sin is the breaking of God’s law. By God’s Law, we aren’t talking about the Old Testament Law, such as dietary laws and so forth. We are talking about the moral codes of behavior which God has laid out for us to adhere to. God’s law comes out of the aspects of the nature of God. For example, God considers a lie to be a transgression of His law, because God himself cannot lie. God’s Law reflects His character and His Holiness. To not love others transgresses God’s Law, because God is love. God’s Law is not just some arbitrary list of rules, but a reflection of His character, holiness and perfection.
Do we sin? Well of course we do! The Bible teaches that clearly. Romans 3:23 is the most famous scripture verse on this issue, stating that .
Romans 3:23 All have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God
Not only do we all sin, but we were all born into this world as sinners. Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all mankind has inherited a sin nature. Romans 5:12 teaches us that,
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
But let’s get more specific. It’s easy to toss out the general idea about how we are all sinners by nature and by choice. But we should actually discuss some particulars of our sin. Most people would agree that the Ten Commandments are a major source of a great number of the specifics of God’s Law. We should give ourselves a test. By the way I fail this test miserably!
Have you ever told a lie? Any lie, small or large. Any lie, whether a little white lie or a big black one? What is a person who tells lies called? A liar of course
Have you ever stolen anything? Big or little. Have you stolen a pencil at work? Run copies on the company printer? Have you cut in line? Then you stole that person’s spot. What do you call someone who steals? A thief of course.
Have you ever used God’s name in vain? This doesn’t even have to be the most obvious one where we actually use His name as a curse word. Have you called Him “the Big Guy?” Any use of the Holy name of God in a flip way is considered blasphemy by God.
Ever looked at a member of the opposite sex with lust? Of course we all have, unless we like the same sex. Jesus taught that to look at a woman with lust is to commit adultery of the heart.
We really have not gotten through all of the Ten Commandments, which are His moral law, and we have established that for the most part we are all lying, stealing, blaspheming adulterers at heart! (Thanks to Ray Comfort for that little test by the way)
So, the only question that remains is: Someday when you stand before God will you be found innocent or guilty? Based on our test, the answer obviously seems guilty is the only possible answer. To really get this, we have to understand and try to look at the issue from God’s perspective. We might look at some of those things and just not consider them to be a big deal; however, God disagrees. The real issue is this: Do we get to rate ourselves, so to speak, against our own human thoughts about right and wrong, or are we subject to the evaluation of a Perfect and Holy God?
Let’s start with something basic. God hates sin. That is an uncomfortable truth, but a truth nonetheless. Why does God hate sin? There are many reasons, and we will cover a few of them. First and foremost, God hates sin because He is Holy and sin is unholy. Sin, simply put, is outside the character of God and it offends Him. Like we said before, the Bible teaches that God cannot lie and that God is love. It flows from His character naturally then, that He would hate liars and those who do not love. God hates our sin because it separates us from Him. Before they rebelled and ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden daily with God, as we learn in Genesis 3:8. After The Fall, they were physically expelled from the Garden of Eden and the presence of God. The Prophet Isaiah was inspired to write the following:
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Our sin separates us from God, yet He created us to commune with and worship Him; therefore He hates anything which separates us from Him.
God hates sin because we will love our sin more than we love Him. God is love, loves us and wants our love. He hates anything which diminishes that love. James covered this in his epistle:
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
God hates sin because sin is a sign of our rebellion toward Him. In the Garden of Eden, God only made one rule for Adam and Eve, and that was that they not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve succumbed to the temptations presented to her by Satan, and she and Adam ate the fruit anyway. God’s plan was for Adam and Eve to live forever in harmony, in communion and in worship of Him. They chose, however, the things that appealed to them rather than the things that mattered to God. That is what our sin represents to God today. When we sin, we are simply saying to God that we think our way is better than His way.
So, God is the Creator of the Universe and the supreme law giver. He is entitled, by virtue of that position, to make the guidelines by which we live; falling short or refusing to comply with those guidelines offends God’s character and He hates it. Obviously, it seems, any violation of His law makes us guilty of being law breakers. Nonetheless, many come up with various defenses of their actions in attempts to say they really are not guilty. We are going to look at some of those defenses; and we are going to compare what God might think with what any judge in any courtroom in the world would say if these defenses were presented to him or her. That seems fair; we would understand a human judge responding in accordance with the law. It seems we would expect no less of the Supreme Judge of the Universe! For this scenario, just envision being before a human judge, say for the crime of armed robbery and that the penalty for that is imprisonment. This is the law, no exceptions.
“Judge, it wasn’t really a big robbery. I didn’t even use a gun! And I only got a little bit of money anyway.” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge. God likewise does not care about the size of our sin. God is perfect and Holy, remember? A small sin makes us just as guilty as a big on in they eyes of a perfect God. James 2:10 teaches us that a man can keep the whole law and yet offends in one point is still guilty of violation the entire law.
“Judge, I may have committed that robbery, but I never killed anybody!” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge. God is not going to look at all the things we could have done, but did not do. Once again, a violation of the law is a violation of the law.
“Judge, I may have committed that robbery, but did you know I have been working down at the food kitchen helping the homeless for years? What about all the money I gave to charity?” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge. No matter how many good things we may do, they do not make up for our violation of God’s law. We cannot cover our penaly due by doing anything good.
“Judge, look what THAT guy has done!” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge. God is not comparing us to each other to decide our innocence of guilt. He only compares us the the standard of His perfection and Holiness. It only matters what we have done, not what anyone else has done.
“Judge, I’m really, really sorry for committing the armed robbery.” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge. The idea that we could tell a judge we are sorry and expect to be released is really absurd. The law says what the penalty is, and the penalty must be paid. Why would God be any different?
Let’s get serious for a few moments now. Based on the standard of the law, we are all guilty of breaking it. I am; you are, every single one of us is. Someday we will all stand before God and the only possible verdict is a resounding GUILTY! This however, is not armed robbery, and the penalty is not simply imprisonment. What, then is the penalty? God’s Word tells us the answer to that question:
Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death………
That’s right, the penalty prescribed in God’s Law for violation of that law is the death penalty. The penalty is not penance, or purgatory, or a monetary fine or any sort of good works to make up for what we have done. The penalty for our sin is death. What does this mean? Well, after the first sin, it meant physical death. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have lived forever in their physical forms, in harmony with God. Their sin brought into the world all the sickness and death as we know it today. Death also means spiritual death. Even though we all eventually die physically, we are are all eternal in our spirits. Our spirit, or soul will exist for all eternity. So, again, what is it to spiritually die? Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in a place of torment we call Hell. It’s really that simple. When God says the wages of sin is death, that is the death of which He speaks.
The penalty is due; we all owe it, for we have all sinned and transgressed God’s law. And each and everyone of us can pay that penalty ourselves if we want to. We each owe it, and we can each pay it. I could have payed for my own sin; you can pay for yours if you wish. But that’s the point of this article. We don’t really want to pay our own way; we don’t want to suffer eternal death in a place called Hell.
Although we can certainly pay our own way, we do not have to. The title of this article is Jesus Paid it All, and He did. The Good News of the Gospel is that even though a penalty is was due and payable, it has already been paid! We need to go back to Romans 6:23 and look at the rest of that verse, as we only showed part of it earlier:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God has given us a gift. Even though we owed the penalty of death for our sin, He have us His Son, Jesus Christ as a way for that debt to be satisfied. God became flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ and became incarnate on this Earth for that very reason. Jesus Christ was fully human, so He could pay the price humans owed for their sin; He was also fully God, so He could pay the infinite price of the sin of all humanity past, present and future. Despite how He hates sin, God loves us deeply and completely.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is a gift, we do not pay a thing for it; Jesus paid it all. We do not deserve it and we do not earn it. All we have to do is accept it. How do we do this? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about this:
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
It’s simple really. We have to confess Him. Basically we have to agree with Him that our sin is wrong and understand we should have paid for it. We agree with God that our sin is wrong and turn away from it. We call that repentance. We also need to believe that Jesus paid the price we should have paid ourselves, and to trust Him as our Savior and Lord. And finally, we do have to call on Him. Romans 10:13 teaches that. The gift is available, and it is free; however God will not force it on anybody. He does require that we call on Him and ask for that gift.
Jesus paid it all. Four words full of meaning. We all have a choice. We can pay our own way or we can accept that Jesus has already paid our way, if only we repent toward God and believe in Jesus Christ.