While finances can create frustration and the lack of them can create hardship1, there is an occasional point where we finally get to a finish line. This can be something as simple as paying off a credit card bill, or making the last layaway payment. Or, it can be when a house or car is finally paid off (although that can take some real financial discipline).
This is often a cause for celebration. Some organizations will have a ceremony to burn the mortgage note when it is paid off, while individuals might go out for a nice meal with family or friends to savor the joy of owning something without owing money on it, anymore.
Take a look at this verse from the book of Romans, describing what God did for us through Jesus’ sacrifice:
He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
Romans 8:4 NLT
This is a relatively straightforward (although theologically deep) concept: Jesus fully followed God’s instructions, when we failed to do so. Then, He was able to transfer the blessings of this perfect life onto us (even as He took on the punishment that our offenses deserved). There is nothing else that we need to do in order to fulfill the requirements of the law, other than to accept and follow Jesus. We don’t have to complete a certain number of “good deeds” or give a certain amount of money to the church. We don’t even need to ensure that we follow the Ten Commandments perfectly for the rest of our lives (although they still tell us the difference between right and wrong).
Of course, for a follower of Jesus, doing the right thing is still the right thing to do. He gave us both teaching and examples to live by, and He explained that our love for Him would result in obedience. However, living as righteously as we are able, surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s leading, is what that we get to do, rather than what we have to do in order to somehow cover our past transgressions.
I have the hardest time remembering this when I get stuck in an awareness of my own sins. I get frustrated when I fall into the same traps, and make the same mistakes (by choice) over and over again. In these cases, I sometimes feel like I need to get back to some level of “goodness”, or perform some atoning acts (whether asking for forgiveness, or just trying harder not to sin) in order to get back into a “saved state”.
That’s not the case, though. As the old hymn reminds us, God’s grace is greater than all our sins (even mine!). He knew all of the bad things that we would do, even before He sent Jesus to atone for them. When people decide to follow Jesus, God knows what they will do after making that decision – both righteous and sinful; yet, He offers this complete salvation, anyway.
Just as there is no past sin that Jesus’ salvation cannot cover, future sins committed by those who are continuing to follow Jesus do not disqualify us from that salvation. It is paid for, completely.
Accepting and following Jesus results in all of our requirements (for being right with God) being fulfilled. The result is the same as if we had somehow managed to do everything right – following the rules to the letter without ever failing.
That’s a great reminder when the Accuser (i.e., Satan) tries to tell me that I’m not “good enough” for God’s kingdom. By myself, I am not even close to being good enough. With Jesus covering my account, I am free to live out the second part of this verse: following the Holy Spirit into a divinely-led life.
- By the way, God didn’t leave us to fend for ourselves when it came to handling our finances. The Bible speaks about money at length, and you can learn from it directly, or read any one of many Bible-based studies on how God has shown us to manage our resources (which really belong to Him, anyway) effectively. ↩