Monday, January 29, 2024

Debt, Crime, and Enmity (Philippians 3)

"… they are enemies of the cross of Christ …" (Phil. 3:18)

To understand sin as a debt, crime, and enmity, we must introduce three actors in the drama of redemption: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and man the sinner. First, to consider sin as a debt, we need to see God in the context of Creator and Sovereign. God has the right to impose obligations on His creatures. If God imposes an obligation on us, and we fail to perform it, we incur a debt. This happened in the garden of Eden. God imposed an obligation of obedience on our first parents, and thus on all mankind. They failed to keep that obligation and incurred debt not only for themselves but for all humanity whom Adam represented. As debtors, we cannot pay back our debt because it is of an infinite amount, as we mentioned in yesterday’s study. But we can pay back our debt through Christ, who serves as our surety and backs us up when we can’t pay our debt.

Second, we have committed a grievous crime against God, who is our governor and our judge. As criminals we have been sentenced to death for our crimes, for the “wages of sin is death.” But God has provided a substitute. In forgiving us of our sins, God does not throw away justice in the name of mercy. Justice is met in the person of Christ. He died in our place and took the punishment of our crimes upon Himself.

Third, as sinners we are at enmity against God. In our natural state, we hate God, we find Him offensive, and we despise His law. This is true because the law that rules in the hearts of fallen humanity is the law of sin. Sin is enmity against God. It is not simply an enemy, it is enmity itself. It cannot be parleyed with, negotiated with; you cannot make peace with it. The only way to conquer it and to bring reconciliation between you and God is through its destruction.

On the cross, Christ broke the power of sin, He conquered it, He crushed it by His death. As our mediator, Christ destroys that enmity within us and stands between the gap that has separated us from God. No one else can do that work because no one else is acceptable to God as a worthy mediator and no one else can bring peace where there was once hatred and animosity.

Read Luke 7:36–50. In this scene who is in debt to God? Who has the greater debt? Think of all the debt God has canceled in your life. Maybe you are still in debt because you have not put your faith in Christ, your surety. If not, go to Him today and ask Him to cancel your debts. If He already has, be grateful and thank Him.