Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Man's Indebtedness to God

"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matthew 6:12).

Sin has three dimensions or aspects that are dealt with in Christ’s atoning work. Sin involves debt, crime, and an estrangement between the persons of God and man. I want to focus on the difference between pecuniary and penal debt.

If I borrow $10,000 from Bill, I owe him a pecuniary debt. Suppose I simply cannot pay it back, but my best friend comes forward and says that he will give me the money to pay it back. Is Bill obligated to take this repayment? Certainly, because the only responsibility I have to Bill is to pay the money back. Once I’ve repaid him, even if it’s with my friend’s money, I am debt-free.

But now suppose I stole $10,000 from Bill, and I am arrested for robbery. Then my best friend comes forward and says that he will pay Bill the $10,000. Is Bill morally obligated to take that repayment? No, not at all, because in addition to the financial dimension, a crime has been committed. There is more involved than mere money.

In a robbery, there is a pecuniary debt that must be paid off with money, but there is also a penal debt that must be paid by punishing the criminal. Suppose my best friend also offers to take my punishment? He can offer it, but it will be up to Bill to accept.

In order for Jesus’ payment of our debts to be accepted, God had to decree that He would accept that payment on our behalf. Suppose Jesus had simply appeared and died for my sins. Would God be under any obligation to accept that payment? No. There first had to be a judgment by the Governor of the Universe that He would accept a substitutionary payment for my debts. This prior decision by God the Father is pure grace on His part.

In light of our two-fold indebtedness to God, consider how presumptuous it is when people refuse the work of Christ and replace it with their own “good” works. Aside from their inability to perform even a single “good” work, they would obligate God to accept their offering. In your prayer time today pray for those who teach and preach that they might have significant opportunities to speak the Gospel truth regarding the only way of salvation.