When someone breaks the law, we say the have a “debt to society.” They have broken the laws and the trust of that society, and so have incurred a debt that is paid through fines, imprisonment (separation from society) and sometimes death. In the case of treason the law states:
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
Sin, in the Bible, is considered treason – the highest treason against our very Creator. First, Adam and Eve, acting for the whole human race, joined in Satan’s rebellion against God. We, by our personal sin, do the same, becoming “enemies of God” (See Romans 5:8-10). The wages of sin is death. There are not enough righteous deeds in 100 lifetimes to repay this debt. So, like prison, we are separated from God, resulting in spiritual and ultimately eternal death.
To redeem means to release, set free, or liberate. Jesus, having taken our sin debt upon Himself and paying the price to God on the cross, released us from that debt and its present and eternal penalty. No longer are we separated from God. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
Jesus paid the debt of sin for all of humanity – the entire debt. Even the sins we have not committed yet. As Hebrews 7:27 says, “He [Jesus] has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”
Think of what it would be like if a generous benefactor gave their alma mater 3 million dollars to pay off the debt of graduating seniors. That money is sitting there to cover those debts, but only appropriated when a student comes, in faith believing, with the record of their account balance to apply for their share of this grace – unearned favor. In the same way, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, believing that He died for us and rose victorious over sin and death, trusting in that redemption rather than our own human goodness or good deeds, and bringing as it were our sins to the cross, asking God to receive His salvation, our debt comes under that which was paid. We receive Amazing Grace!!
This is why “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).
That’s not all, however! At that same time, we get an incredible bonus. We get born again as new creations, with the Holy Spirit coming to live in us, guiding us into all truth, righteousness, and harmony with the Lord. What an incredible identity we have in Christ!!