CROSS: How does Jesus pay our debt to God?
God made us to love, honor, and obey him in thought, word, and deed. Every time we fail to do that perfectly, we accrue a debt to God. Every person has sinned against God, and hell is the eternal prison for spiritual debtors who have stolen from God by living sinful lives.
First, we need a mediator to stand between us and God to establish our total debt and come up with a resolution that God the Father, to whom we are indebted, will find acceptable. The Bible repeatedly speaks of Jesus as our only mediator: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”1 Our spiritual debt is to God, and there is only one possible mediator between God and us to work out the dangerous mess we are in.
Second, we need a redeemer willing to intercede for us and pay our debt to God the Father. A redeemer is a person who pays the debt of someone else. Paul speaks of “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”2 He also says that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree [Deut. 21:23].’”3 Because our sins are against God, only God can forgive our debt of sin. Jesus is God who paid our debt on the cross in order to forgive our sin.4
Third, we need a ransom, which is a repayment sufficient enough to erase our debt to God the Father. The problem, though, is that our sins are against a completely holy and perfect God and therefore require a perfect payment. Since all human beings are sinful, we cannot be a ransom for another. There is no way that any other sinful human can ever repay God for our spiritual debt. Psalm 49:7–8 says it this way: “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice.” Referring to himself in Mark 10:45, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Paul also speaks of “the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom.”5
Consider every single financial debt you owe. Then, consider that your spiritual debt to God is infinitely greater and paid in full by Jesus Christ!