September 11, 2001. If you are at least twenty years old, you probably remember that day well. You can recall where you were and the emotions you felt. No one knew where the terrorists would strike next. Would any more buildings fall? Will something happen in my town? Is a new world war about to erupt?
A short time later we were glued to our televisions as our armed forces invaded Iraq. We waited in suspense because we were not sure how it would turn out. Who would emerge the victor when the smoke of all the chaos finally settled?
Contrast the feelings of that time with how you felt when you were in school and read about the American Revolution, the Civil War, or maybe even the Holocaust.
Were the emotions different?
They were, because you were reading about these events as history. No matter how dreadful the things you read about were, you knew how it would turn out. There was no suspense.
How would you react if your child came home from school one day shaking with fear because the Redcoats are coming? You would assure him that everything is OK. That battle has already been won.
Unfortunately, we adults often are just as guilty as that child. It is tempting to think that there is a huge cosmic battle between good and evil and hope that in the end good wins out.
Is there a cosmic battle between good and evil?
Jesus answered that question for us. The last words that came out of Jesus’ mouth before He died were, “It is finished” (John 19:30 NKJV).
A little phrase, but it packs a powerful punch.
When you’re finished, you’re done. There is no more to do. You have completed the final step in your plan and you can move on to something else.
When Jesus died, He was finished. The reason He came to earth was completed.
Contrary to public thought at the time, Jesus had not come to assist the Israelites in an overthrow of Rome. He had not come merely to set an example for how we should live. He had not come to be whipped, ridiculed, and nailed to a cross.
He came to die. All of the sins of mankind were put on Him and He suffered the collective punishment for them. On the cross, the battle between God and sin was finished.
So, what does that mean for us?
THE REIGN OF SIN IS FINISHED
The promise to Adam and Eve millennia earlier was that if they rebelled against God, they would die. When they did rebel, they became spiritually dead and were unable to have the relationship with God that they previously had. Their physical lives, however, were prolonged on account of the substitute of continuous animal sacrifices.
However, Jesus made the payment “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).
Because of that one payment, Jesus permanently defeated death and made possible eternal life for all who would put faith in Him.
His one payment also defeated the power of sin in our lives. That is why Paul urged the Christians in Rome to “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin,” following it with “do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (Romans 6:11-12). Because of the “once for all” payment of Jesus, we are no longer slaves to sin! Its reign is finished.
THE PAYMENT FOR SIN IS FINISHED
As a young man, Martin Luther was tormented by his sin. He made repeated trips to his confessor, often returning quickly because he remembered yet another offense that he had not yet confessed. Finally, one day as he was studying the book of Romans, he settled on the words “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). For the first time he grasped the concept of what we call “justification by faith.” He realized that it was not his works or his confession that cleared his name before God. It was simply his faith in the work of Jesus!
We can continually kick ourselves over the mistakes that we have made. We can go through life paralyzed in our service for God because of our past life. However, what does God have to say about that?
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)
Have you ever stopped to think about what that means? It says “no condemnation.” God has released you from the payment for sin.
That does not mean there will be no consequences. However, they are temporary. When you come to the end of your life, God is not going to “almost” allow you into Heaven. At the gates of Heaven there is no list of sins that require a little extra payment.
We were charged with the debt of sin, which put us in a desperate situation. Regardless of what we do, we can never pay off the debt. However, through the death of Jesus, the despair we experience on account of our debt is also finished.
THE DESPAIR OF SIN IS FINISHED
Last year a good friend of mine passed away. We had met him during our first year of full time ministry, which brought us to Florida. As a dentist, he was affectionately known as “Doc.” When our time in Florida was coming to an end, he kept setting up appointments for me. After many of these appointments when I went to pay my bill, the receptionist simply said, “No charge.” So, I would make my trek down the hallway to his office where he would refuse to let me pay.
Each time, I had a choice to make. I could say, “Thanks Doc!” and go home. Or, I could live in guilt that I had not paid my debt. I could lie awake at night worrying about it. I could go over and rake his yard, mop his floors, and buy him gifts to try to feel like I have paid him back.
Did I truly owe him? No. Did I feel like I owe him? Yes. Regardless of how I felt, Doc’s records showed no charges to my account.
Abraham, the great saint of Old Testament fame, was far from a perfect man. However, God noticed his faith and “He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Paul recalls this while writing to the Romans and points out that “it was not written for his sake alone . . . but also for us” (Romans 4:23-24). Just as God’s righteousness was put on Abraham’s account because of his faith, it will also be put on our account because of our faith.
In effect, God takes a blood-stained pen and writes “no charge” across your account.
There is no reason to go through your life with those sins hanging over you. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” He meant exactly that.
Seems so simple, right?
It is, but we often try to make it difficult. We tend to think that we need to do something to gain His acceptance.
Relax! There is no debt anymore! Sure, we should serve God, but it should come out of a heart of thankfulness for what He has done rather than guilt over our sin.
Throughout this whole “Battle for Your Mind” series, we have discussed many of the battles that we experience.
– The battle for your fear
– The battle for your faith
– The battle for your actions
– The battle for your habits
– The battle for your emotions
– The battle for your choices
– The battle for your bitterness
– The battle for your relationships
– The battle for your happiness
However, you can never expect to win the battle for your mind until you win the battle for your soul. Fortunately, it is a battle you do not have to fight. Jesus already fought it and won. Your job is to neglect any of your feeble attempts at paying off your debt and rest in faith in what Jesus has already done.
This is the final post in the “Battle for Your Mind” series. Click here to view the previous post.