Summary: Debt can be very bad. Our spiritual debt is so bad it has killed us! But God has a credit plan that is out of this world!
Jenny and I are making payments on our kid’s college loans. We considered it an investment to send them to Christian colleges and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It has been one of the wisest choices we have made for our children. But it came with a cost we couldn’t pay for without credit. We look forward to the day when they are paid in full.
Recently we got a note from the bank where Tim has his school loans saying: “Congratulations, your loan is paid in full!” Jenny and I were real excited until we found out what happened. Tim had taken a loan for graduate school and as it ended up, he didn’t need it, so the funds were returned. They made it sound like his entire four years were paid in full. But no… Lord willing, they will be, but not yet.
Is there anyone here today that owes money on something you bought on credit?
Debt is a big problem. Many people close their eyes or pretend that debt isn’t a problem, but it is. Our national debt is at around 7 trillion dollars and growing. Do you know how much that is? A trillion seconds is more seconds than have passed since Jesus was born.
As staggering as this debt is, we can still pay for it eventually. But Romans reveals a debt we owe that we can’t pay for and yet eventually it demands full payment.
In Romans 1:18-3:20 we read of a debt of humanity that reveals that we are bankrupt, ruined, hopeless, lost in the darkness of our own moral decadence, and powerless to help ourselves in any way. Man has mortgaged his eternal soul. If all we had of the Bible was Romans 1:18-3:20 there would be nothing to look forward to but hell.
If you will read it carefully, slowly, and thoughtfully, you will see that the Bible proves that we are in a mess of our making leaving us all totally out of control, spiritually over the edge of the pit of disaster and destruction and condemnation. One commentator said, “There is no ray of light, no flicker of hope and no prospect of rescue” in Romans 1:18-3:20. All have sinned. None is righteous, no not one.
Sin is a spiritual debt. Yet some people can know that, and take it lightly. Listen. One of the devious things about sin is how it makes us underestimate its destructive nature so that we even excuse it as acceptable or at least a necessary alternative. The deeper we go into darkness, the more we rationalize away the horror of our sinful condition. Sin allows us to believe that we are still not lost, that we are still under control, that it is not as bad as God thinks and says it is.
We must realize how bad it is, or we will never appreciate how God saves us from it.
But listen to the first two words of Romans 3:21 “But now…”
Did you catch that? Those two words mark what ought to be the next chapter of Romans. But now… What? What now? After painting us into a corner of sin so that we are bunched together and wrapped into a package stamped and addressed to hell, what now?
How many of you get credit offers in the mail? Do they ever make you mad? They even call you on the phone at dinner time and interrupt your meal to offer you a zero percent interest rate for six months credit card!
There’s only one problem with these offers. Besides breaking in on a good meal or cluttering the post office garbage can. If you transfer all your debt to one of these cards, guess what? You still owe every penny!
But now… what if there was a call that offered to pay off all your debts in full? Would you be interested?
Well, in fact, that’s just what we find here in beginning in Romans 3:21 and following.
God offers to pay off your debt. Not your school loans or your house or your car, but something infinitely more valuable, the cost of your sins.
By the way, you and I are so bad off, we can’t even contribute to it! It’s a trust. The entire payment has already been applied through Jesus death on the cross and there is no other access for the credit offered by God, except by faith. If you accept, you do so on God’s terms by faith. The currency of salvation is “righteousness.” Something we are lacking in. All our righteousness is as filthy rags.
You will notice here that Paul doesn’t rush to talk about baptism or anything we might mistake as our own effort to attain this righteousness that comes from God. He even delays speaking about baptism for two and a half chapters just so we will get it!