On the Difference Between Sin, Sins, and Credit Card Debt

October 24, 2017

Colossians 2:13-15

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

CONSIDER THIS

In law school I learned two rival conceptions of reality that I have forever mixed up until now. The terms are de jure and de facto. De jure means “of law.” De facto means “of fact.” Something can be true “of law” yet not be true “of fact.”

A couple can be married “de facto” and not be married “de jure,” though it is unfortunately more often the opposite. Consider the difference between de facto sovereignty and de jure sovereignty. Though Jesus is the true or “de jure”sovereign over our lives, sin manages to hold on to rogue or “de facto” sovereignty in our experience. Why is this?

How could this be, given this word from today’s text?

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

I think it is because we don’t understand the difference between sins and sin. Do you see the distinction in the text? There are “our sins,” and there is “our legal indebtedness.” We are not in debt because of our sins. We are in debt because of sin. To be sure, our sins have added to our debt, like the interest on a debt adds to the debt, but our legal indebtedness is sin itself. It has stood against us from Eden and condemned us from the moment we were born. If I’ve said it once on the Daily Text I’ve said it a hundred time. We aren’t sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.

As I write, I have a credit card debt that I can’t pay back at the moment. Every month the bill comes back around, and I have a choice. I can pay any amount I want, from the “minimum” to the whole thing. Know what happens? Because I can’t pay it off, I usually pay some approximation of the minimum (which may cover some portion of the interest), because there are other bills who don’t permit such a slavish privilege. You too? ;0)  Now, regardless of my payment, the debt keeps going up and with that the payment.

Are you seeing the analogy to sin and sins? I get that Jesus has paid my legal indebtedness. I am de jure out of debt. So why do I keep making the de facto payment? When we keep on sinning we effectively pay the interest on a debt that no longer exists. This is why Jesus probably spends a lot of time scratching his head!

Have you ever been to a note or mortgage burning ceremony? It’s a beautiful thing to see the record of legal indebtedness go up in smoke before our very eyes. Well, this is exactly what the Cross was and is and forevermore shall be.

15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

The note on our sin, the record of our legal indebtedness, has been cancelled—nailed to the cross, no less. Reminds me again of the third stanza of the classic hymn, It is Well With My Soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Awaken me to my sin and help me to understand the difference between my sin and my sins. Come Holy Spirit and witness to this Gospel to my own soul. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Have you looked upon the Cross and seen more than your sins—but your sin? See the difference?
  2. Have you ever preached this Gospel of Colossians 2:13-15 to yourself or to those brothers or sisters you are banded together with?
  3. Are you still paying interest on a debt that no longer “in law” exists? Why?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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