Paid in Full
Bible Reading: Colossians 2:8-15
Colossians 2:13-14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
In 1505, Martin Luther made a vow during a thunderstorm to become a monk, and so he did. As part of his monasterial duties, he prayed incessantly day and night, fasted, chastised his body, kept vigils, wept at the altar, confessed his sins, repeated psalms and recited Ave Marias. Despite all of that, he found no comfort. Instead, he discovered being a monk was merely a never-ending discipline of religious duties. These duties did not affect his heart at all, having realized that all its mysticism, legalism and asceticism amounted to nothing more than a fabricated attempt to climb to heaven. He became convinced of his sin and his unworthiness, but he found himself unable to do anything in his own effort to ease the sense of condemnation he felt. He was like Christian in John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” unable to rid himself of the heavy burden he carried upon his shoulders.
We’ll get back to Martin Luther’s story in a bit, but make note of what this verse is saying–Through Christ, God has canceled the record of debt which stood against you! Your sins amounted to an unpayable debt you owed to God. Kind of like the national debt—now over 30 trillion dollars! Or, like the debt owed by the forgiven slave in the parable of the unmerciful slave (Matthew 18:21-35). He owed his master ten thousand talents. The New Testament talent was the equivalent of 6000 denarii. A denarius was equivalent to one day’s wage. So, a debt of ten thousand talents would be the equivalent of some 160,000 years’ worth of wages! Clearly an unpayable debt, which is the point. The master of the slave was incredibly gracious and merciful in forgiving the entire debt. In the parable he is likened to God in that respect. God has worked through Christ, and His death on the cross, to forgive the entirety of your sin debt!
Your certificate of debt was nailed to the cross. “But wait,” you say, “it was Jesus who was nailed there?” Indeed! God took your certificate of debt, which stood against you, and nailed it to the cross in the person of Jesus Christ. God”…made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21)! Now it’s stamped “Paid in Full!” By God’s grace, through faith in Christ, you’ve been forgiven all!
One day, Luther traveled to Rome and visited The Scala Sancta, commonly referred to as the Sacred Stairs. This staircase had been brought from Jerusalem. It was supposedly the same steps down which our Savior walked from Pilate’s Hall to the hill of Calvary. There were 28 steps made of solid marble, covered with wood to keep them from being worn away from all those who walked the stairs. Pilgrims came from all over Europe to climb these stairs. The thought being that for every step they climbed, they received indulgence, or pardon for the sins of that year. Therefore, when they reached the top of the stairs, these people believed 28 years of sins were blotted out. Martin Luther went to Rome to climb these sacred stairs, yet on the way up the stairs as he was praying, the words of the verse, “the righteous shall live by faith,” came to him. He stopped praying and descended the stairs. For the first time, he realized forgiveness and salvation were not earned, but freely given by God. He trusted in Jesus and received God’s forgiveness. The rest, as they say, is history! You’ve been blessed—by grace through faith in Jesus—to likewise share in his experience. Your sin debt has been paid in full through His shed blood! Praise the Lord!
JESUS PAID IT ALL
I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small,
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone. [Refrain]
For nothing good have I
Where-by Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb. [Refrain]
And when, before the throne,
I stand in Him complete,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
My lips shall still repeat. [Refrain]