Sunday, March 20, 2016

[Matt's Messages] "Freed from Debt"

“Freed from Debt”
Jesus Paid It All :: Palm Sunday
March 20, 2016 :: 1 Peter 2:24

Our series this month has been named after song:

Jesus Paid It All
All to Him I Owe
Sin Had Left a Crimson Stain
He Washed It White As Snow

The first Sunday of March, we meditated on the Suffering Servant predicted in Isaiah 53–“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (v.6).

Jesus Paid It All.

And then last Sunday, we read about the fulfillment of that prophecy in the gospel of John chapter 19. We read about how our Lord Jesus was tortured, mocked, and killed for us with the dying cry, “It is finished. Tetelestai. It is completed.”

Jesus Paid It ALL.

And we even thought for awhile about what it would mean if Jesus’ death was not sufficient to pay for our full sin debt. We’d still have unending work to do and unending punishment to suffer.

But our debt is paid in full.

Jesus Paid It All.

Today, I want us to go one step further and think about how being freed from that debt frees us to live in a new way.

Our title for today’s message is “Freed from Debt.”

If Jesus has paid it all, then we are free.

We are no longer under debt.

We no longer have a sinful liability to our names.

We are no longer in “in the hole.”

We are free.

What does that mean?

I’ve only two points to share this morning, but they are big ones.

And the first point comes from 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 24.

Speaking of Jesus. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”


Here’s what I mean.

By the way, did you catch what Bible passage Peter was referencing here?

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

Where’s that from?

It’s Isaiah 53, isn’t it?

Peter has been riffing off of Isaiah 53 since verse 22 in this chapter.

He’s writing to Christians who are suffering, unjustly. They have gotten a raw deal. They have gotten a beating when they had done something good instead of something bad. It’s totally unjust.

And Peter is telling them to follow the example of our Lord when injustice comes. He’s teaching them how to endure unfairness and inequity. V.20

“... if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ [That’s Isaiah 53, verse 9.]  When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

And then our verse.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray [Isaiah 53 again!], but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Now, I want you to see a few things from this passage.

First, it’s Jesus that paid it all and nobody else.

“He HIMSELF bore our sins in his body on the tree.”

Jesus paid it all. Nobody else.

I talked to the teens in the FCA Bible Club on Thursday about this passage, and I emphasized that point.

Jesus didn’t delegate this responsibility.

Jesus didn’t send Moses or Aaron or David or Isaiah or John the Baptist.

Jesus didn’t send an angel to take our place on the Cross.

Jesus did it Himself.

This task was too much to assign to another person.

No other person, no other entity could do what Jesus did.

He had to do it himself.

He had to bear those sins.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree...”

Jesus paid it all.

We couldn’t do it!

Notice again how important are the pronouns here.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree...”

That’s what we’ve been celebrating this whole month.

We are freed from debt.

If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, you are freed from debt.

My sin–O the bless 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!

Freed from debt.

Now. What difference does that make?

Last week, we thought about what difference it would make if it wasn’t true.

What difference does it make that it’s true. What does Peter say? Look again at verse 24.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness...”

Isn’t that interesting?!

Here’s how I say it: we are freed from debt to live from free from more debt.

Last week, my friend Pastor Dan Ledford and his family were visiting us and worshiped with us.

And while I was preaching, I gave the illustration of being freed from my school loans. Do you remember that?

The amazing feeling of no longer being in debt financially.

I could burn the paperwork. I didn’t owe Sallie Mae even one more red cent!

And my friend Dan said to me afterwards that he remembered that same moment in his life of being freed from his school loans, and his first thought was, “I’m never going to borrow another dime ever again!”

Can you relate?

Now, that’s financial debt.

And it’s not necessarily wrong to incur it.

But what about sin debt?

What about the hole we get ourselves into when we sin against God?

Some people think that if they are freed from debt, that they’d just run out and sin some more.

Like we said last week and in Romans 6, why not sin all the more so that grace may abound?

May it never be.

That’s not where Peter went was it?  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins.”

We are freed from debt to live free from more debt.

We are freed so we could stop sinning!
So we could stop doing the things that offend God.

Jesus' death wasn't just so that we could be forgiven.

It was also so we could be empowered to repent.

Die and live.
Die to sin and live for righteousness.

Those are powerful words.

That's what baptism is a picture of.

Next week, when Hunter and Aspen go down into the water, there will be a picture of death, of burial.

Dying to sins.

Jesus' death means the death of our sins.

And when Hunter and Apsen come up out of the water, it will be a picture of new life, of resurrection.

Living now for righteousness.

What sins in your life need to die?

What do you need to repent of?

To live free of?

The death of Jesus means that we need to consider ourselves dead to sin. No longer enslaved. No longer do we have to live in sin.

We can say no.

We can resist gossip.
We can resist pornography.
We can resist hating our enemies.
We can die to sexual immorality, to sex outside of the covenant of marriage.
Living with our boyfriend or our girlfriend outside of marriage.
We can die to gluttony.
We can die to greed.
We can die to being anxious about the future.
We can die to cussing and lying and boasting.
We can die to getting drunk or stoned.
We can die to taking the Lord's name in vain.
We can die to envying what someone else has.

And not only CAN we die to sins, but Jesus CALL US to die to those sins.

He died for them, so we can die to them.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sins..."

To live free from more debt.

What sins do you need to repent of right now?
What sins are you holding onto?
What sins are you hiding from others?

Jesus is calling you to die to them.

And more than that, to (v.24) “live for righteousness.”

That means that we are freed from debt to live free from more debt.

Not just to NOT sin but to live well, to live good, to live for righteousness.

Jesus Himself bore our sins so that we could live for righteousness.

So it’s not enough to just resist gossip, we get build others up with our words.

It’s not enough to not just sleep around or sleep with your boyfriend or your girlfriend.

We get to, outside of marriage to “treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

And, within the covenant of marriage, we get to bless our spouse with the gift of our bodies.

It’s not enough to just not steal. We’ve get to work to earn to care for our families and to get to others.

“Die to sins and live for righteousness.”

Are you living for righteousness?

That’s what the Cross was all about.

That’s what I told the teens on Thursday.

If you think of the Cross as just a get-out-of-jail-free card, you are missing so much.

The Cross frees us to live a new way.

To live lives of love.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

You are no longer sin-sick.
You are no longer diseased by sin.
You are no longer under the curse.

You are healed.

His wounds have done it.

His stripes. His bruises. His lashings. His beatings.

His wounds have healed your sin.

You are freed from debt to live free from more debt.

And to live free to love!

Isn’t that great?

What difference will that make for you today, this week, this month, this year?

Do you feel free? Do feel freed?

I remember when I realized that I no longer have to sin.

I don’t have to sin any longer.

I will still sin because I’ve yet arrived. I’m not perfect yet.

But the power of sin has been broken in my life.

I don’t have to sin. I’m free.

And not just free from debt, but free to live for righteousness.

I only have two points today, but they are both really big.

And for this second one, I want to take you to a whole other passage of Scripture.

It’s Matthew chapter 18, starting in verse 21.

This is a story that Jesus told Peter.

Peter had come to Jesus and asked him (v.21), “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Do you see where this is going?

Peter wants to know what the limit is on forgiveness.

And he suggests something pretty high.

Many of the rabbis had said that the magic number was 3.

Three times to forgive. So Peter is being generous.

Have you ever been sinned against 7 times and had to forgive 7 times?  It's hard to do.

But (v.22), “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Again and again and again. And let me tell you a story. V.23

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. [That's over one billion dollars in today's money.]  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt [and even that wouldn't have done it.].

The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.'  The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.”

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii [Now, that’s not a small amount of money–a hundred days' wages  a considerable sum – say $14,000 – It's a real debt but nothing compared to what he's just been forgiven].

[This fool] grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' [Sound familiar?] But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”


Not just so that we can be free, but so that we can free other people.

In other words, so that we can learn to forgive.

Uh oh. Now he’s “gone to meddlin’.”

Have you been sinned against?

Of course you have. Maybe not in a major ways, but all of us have been sinned against in minor ways.

Some of you have been sinned against in terrible terrible ways.

And there is no excuse for them.

But there is forgiveness.

Because we have had our sin debt canceled, we can free others from their sin debt against us.

We can be forgiving people.

Now, I know that raises a whole lot of questions.

And I’m not going to answer them all this morning.

The best book I’ve ever read on the subject of forgiveness is called Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns.

He answers a lot of the tough questions that come along with the topic of forgiveness.

For example, do you forgive somebody who is not yet repentant?

If they haven’t asked for forgiveness, do you still grant it?

And the answer is both “yes” and “no.”

“Yes” to a kind of forgiveness that takes place in the heart, an attitudinal forgiveness or a releasing of bitterness. But, also “No,” for forgiveness to go the full way to reconciliation, there needs to be a measure of repentance first on the part of the offender.

And there are a lot of other questions you might ask about forgiveness.

But the main point I want to make today is the one Jesus makes here in this parable.

If you have been forgiven, then you will be forgiving.

If you have experienced the canceling of your sin debt, then you will be ready to forgive the sin debt of others.

Does that make sense?

Do you feel it?

So often we feel how others have sinned against us MORE than we feel how we have sinned against God.

But that’s totally backwards.

We have a hard time seeing our own sin.

But we feel the pain being sinned against.

That’s why Jesus tells this story. So that we understand just how audacious grace is and let it change our hearts to become gracious ourselves.

Who is the King in the story?

Who does he stand for?

It’s God, right?

And our sin is the millions probably billions of dollars.

We’re the forgiven servant.

But are we forgiving?

When we are wronged–and we are genuinely wronged. Those 100 denarii are a real debt. When we are wronged–are we merciful to others?

That ending of this story is so scary, isn’t it?

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

We need to believe that.

Jesus is not teaching that we can earn our forgiveness by being forgiving.

And He’s also not teaching that we can lose our salvation by being unforgiving either.

Jesus is teaching that grace changes us.

And that if we are not changed then we have not been graced.

If we are not merciful, then we have not yet known mercy.

And that if we have been freed from debt, then we are now able and expected to free others from their debts against us.

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Flipped around, we can forgive our debtors because we have been forgiven our debts.

Is that hard to do?

It’s so hard to forgive people. To cancel a debt.

We’ve been wronged!
We’ve been hurt!
We’ve been cheated!

We have every right to be angry.
We have every right to demand satisfaction.
We have every right to make them pay.

But so did the Lord.

So did our heavenly Father.

And that’s not what He did.

He sent Jesus to pay it all.

Jesus Paid It All
All to Him I Owe
Sin Had Left a Crimson Stain
He Washed It White As Snow

But I’m going to keep holding a grudge????

I’m going to stay bitter????

I’m going to demand satisfaction and make them pay????

Colossians 3:13, says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Is there someone you need to forgive?

I remember a few years ago I preached this on that verse and one of you took it to heart and forgave a friend who you had been estranged from for several years.

And the relationship was perfectly restored.

It’s better now than it has ever been.

I love it when I see the two of you together today because I know that it was hard to do.

But it’s so good to forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Freed from debt.

Because Jesus paid it all.

So that now we are able to live free from making more debt. We can die to sins and live for righteousness. We our healed of sin sickness.

And free to free others from their debts against us.

Isn’t that wonderful?

The gospel so powerful, friends.

Let’s believe it and live out of its truth.


Messages in This Series

Jesus Paid It All
What If Jesus Had Not Paid It All?
Freed from Debt


Questions for Group Discussion

1. Recap and Review the previous sermons in this series. Thinking back over both Isaiah 53 and John 19, what have you learned so far about “Jesus Paid It All?” What has meant the most to you personally?

2. Read 1 Peter 2:13-25 and discuss it. Why does Peter quote from Isaiah 53? How should Christians follow Jesus’ example in the face of injustice?

3. Re-read 1 Peter 2:24. How does our being freed from debt enable us “to live free from more debt?” What does it mean to “die to sins and live for righteousness?” What does that look like in your life right now?

4. Read Matthew 18:21-35 and discuss it. How does our being freed from debt enable us to free others from their debts? Have you forgiven someone it was hard to forgive because you realized that you have been forgiven an even greater debt? Do you have a story you can tell the group (without gossiping about the one who sinned against you)?

5. What has been your biggest “takeaway” from this sermon series on “Jesus Paid It All?”  How do you hope to live differently because you have taken it to heart?