A few years ago I was sitting in a worship service and the pastor asked us to spontaneously shout out something that we are thankful for. (And it wasn’t a Thanksgiving service.)
I immediately responded with one word: Forgiveness.
Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for His forgiveness of my sins.
Ever wonder what the word “forgiveness” means? One meaning is this – to cancel a debt.
Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). In a parallel passage, Jesus also taught us to pray, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” (Luke 11:4).
So we see that “sin” and “debt” are synonyms. Because we sin, we owe a debt to God. What is that debt? That debt is the consequences of our sin – our guilt before a holy God and the simple fact that we deserve to be punished by God for our sins – like any criminal who has broken the law and must pay a fine or do the time.
And the just punishment for sin, according to Romans 6:23, is death – physical, spiritual and eternal (in hell).
Now we all have problems in this life, right? It may be unemployment and the unpleasant financial consequences of not having enough income to pay your bills. Perhaps you are behind on your mortgage or rent and creditors are hounding you for payment.
Jesus was drawing an analogy between financial debt and spiritual debt. As sinners we owe a debt to God and there are only two ways that debt can be paid: God’s way or my way.
There are also only two places where that debt can be paid – at the cross of Jesus Christ or in hell.
And there are only two people who can pay that debt – Jesus Christ or me.
So every person is a debtor in the bankruptcy court of heaven. And we are faced with The Million Dollar Question – how are we going to pay that debt?
Fortunately, God is a God of forgiveness. He wants to cancel our debts. In fact, He delights to do just that, and He wants to forgive us more than we want to be forgiven.
He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in order to pay the debt of our sin. And because of His death, those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as the only One who can pay that debt receive forgiveness of sins and a debt cancellation notice that reads, “Paid In Full”.
This is why the gospel is “good news”. And this is why the psalmist wrote, “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).
If you know the joy of forgiveness, don’t let this day pass without expressing your heartfelt thanksgiving to God for this wonderful gift through Jesus Christ our Lord.