Summary: The promise of God that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus is based on the fact that we are saved by grace through faith, because of the righteousness of Christ is credited to us when we believe and are baptized.
A. A comedian was joking about life in the U.S.A. and said, “Believe it or not, America is still the land of opportunity. An immigrant who comes to this country with absolutely nothing, and becomes a citizen, immediately owes $80,387.”
1. Yup, that is the share per citizen of the U.S.A. national debt as of 10 AM last Thursday morning.
a. And if they’re a tax paying family, then their share of the national debt is $213,276.
2. Next time you visit NYC, you might want to visit The National Debt clock, it is only a block away from Times Square.
a. The National Debt Clock is a billboard-sized running total display which is constantly updated to show the current United States gross national debt and each American family's share of the debt.
b. There are plans to install an updated model that can display some quadrillion dollars.
B. I’m not an economist, or a politician, but my experience has taught me that when people owe more than they earn or own, it usually causes trouble.
1. I’m not here this morning to talk about financial trouble, but the national debt clock is a good illustration to get us thinking about a different and more serious kind of debt.
2. What if heaven had a debt clock – not one that tabulated financial debt, but one that tabulated our spiritual debt?
3. The Bible often refers to sin in financial terms – Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts” (Mt. 6:12).
4. So, imagine for a moment that if sin is a debt, and there was a trespass counter in heaven that clicked a higher and higher total with each infraction, how big your number would be.
5. Which reminds me of the old joke about the man who died and went to heaven.
a. When he arrived at the Gates of Heaven, he saw a huge wall of clocks.
b. The man asked an angel, “What are all those clocks?”
c. The angel answered, “Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move.”
d. “Oh,” said the man, “And whose clock is that one, it looks like it has never moved?”
e. The angel answered, “That’s Moses’ clock. The hands have never moved, indicating that he never told a lie.”
f. “Incredible,” said the man, “And whose clock is that one?”
g. The angel said, “That’s Abraham Lincoln’s clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that honest Abe told only two lies in his entire life.”
h. The man asked, “So where’s my clock?”
i. “Your clock is in God’s office. He’s using it as a ceiling fan.”
C. So whether there is an adding machine totaling the number of our sins, or a clock spinning when we lie, the idea of our spiritual debt is depressing and scary, because our debt of sin has serious consequences.
1. The Bible tells us that: “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
2. The Bible tells us: “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; you sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).
3. Max Lucado writes: “The algebra of heaven reads something like this: heaven is a perfect place for perfect people, which leaves us in a perfect mess.”
D. Unfortunately, the realization of our moral debt sends some people into a frenzy of good works.
1. For them, life becomes an unending quest to do enough, to be better and to accomplish more.
2. They believe that if they attend church enough, and tend to the sick enough, and fast and pray enough, and give enough of their time and treasure, then their debt will be erased.
3. Sadly, this approach to salvation always leaves people wondering, “Have I done enough?” And most conclude: “Probably not!”
E. Other people, when faced with these thoughts of the debt of sin, and the path of good works, throw up their hands and walk away exasperated.
1. They give up in defeat, declaring, “It’s no use, I will never be good enough. God is too demanding. God will never be pleased or satisfied.”
2. Others just decide that none of this makes sense and that God must not exist, and if He does exist, He is not worth knowing.
F. Is there any hope for the weary legalist who is tired of trying to please God with their good works?
1. Is there any hope for the atheist who has concluded that there must be no God?
2. Are despair and disbelief the only options?
3. No, there is another option which clearly and correctly understands who God is and what God wants.
4. That correct understanding is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.