I’d like to talk a little bit about sin and debt. And to illustrate what I’m going to discuss, I’d like to read a few verses from Colossians 2:13-14 in the New World Tranlsation,
“Furthermore, though YOU were dead in YOUR trespasses and in the uncircumcised state of YOUR flesh, [God] made YOU alive together with him. He kindly forgave us all our trespasses and blotted out the handwritten document against us, which consisted of decrees and which was in opposition to us; and He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake.”
In these verses, it is clear in stating that we have a debt that we owe God because of our sins against Him. And its also clear that Christ has paid the debt for us by dying in our place. I think we’d all agree with this.
Next, I’d like to quote from a Watchtower article which talks specifically about our debt and how we as sinners are to pay for it:
*** w85 12/1 p. 9 par. 4 Declared Righteous “for Life” ***
In the Scriptures, sins are likened to debts. (See Matthew 6:12, 14; 18:21-35; Luke 11:4.) All men are sinners and are, therefore, heavily in debt before God. “The wages sin pays is death.” (Romans 6:23) Since they had been “sold under sin” by their forefather Adam, his descendants could do nothing to relieve themselves of this crushing debt. (Romans 7:14) Death of the debtor alone could wipe it out, “for he who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Romans 6:7) No good works done during a sinner’s lifetime could buy back what Adam lost, nor even give him a righteous standing before God.
In light of what is said in this article and the verses in Colossians, there are only two options:
1) You can pay for your debt
2) Christ can pay for your debt
But let’s say you want to go with option one and you want to pay God back for the debt that you owe Him. How would you do that? Well, according to the Watchtower article, good works aren’t going to do that. So what are we left with? The answer is, physical death. That is, going to the grave. This is why the article says that the, “death of the debtor alone could wipe it out.” So again, physical death wipes away your debt.
So, this is what happens when you choose option 1. But what if you choose option 2? In this case, Christ pays for your debt with His own death. And if this happens, your debt is erased and you no longer have to pay it.
However, there’s one little problem, and that is, people die. So, whether you like it or not, if you die as a Christian who’s debt Christ paid for, then you are inevitably choosing both options. And this is why I call this, Double Jeopardy. Christ is canceling your debt, but you are having to pay it too with your own death. But how can this be? Well, here’s an illustration that I hope will make this clear.
Let’s say you go and vandalize your neighbor’s house. And after you get caught, you are given a sentence of a year of community service. That is the debt that you must pay for your crimes. But there’s a catch; your neighbor, who’s house you just vandalized, has agreed to pay your debt for you, which inevitably, wipes your slate clean; you’re a free man with no more debt! So, you have 2 options:
1) You can pay your debt by doing 1 year of community service
2) Your neighbor can pay your debt for you by doing community service on your behalf.
Next, let’s apply the Watchtower’s reasoning to this example. Let’s say you choose option 2, where your neighbor graciously agrees to pay your debt by doing the community service for you. Thus, you are a free man. You have no further obligation to pay your debt. Its all done. Your slate is clean. But then, several years later, a policeman breaks down your door, handcuffs you, and drags you out to the highway where you will pick up trash for a full year.
Now, how would you react to this? Would you not be outraged? Well, I think you certainly would, and rightfully so! I mean, your neighbor already paid your debt, so why are you now being forced to do the same thing?
And similarly, if Christ paid your debt for you by dying on your behalf, then what happens when you die? Won’t you be a bit outraged?