Tag Archives: sin

Debt Free Lives, Part 1

3 Jul

Even now, I struggle with the title of this chapter. Sin and debt have become so ingrained in our lives and such an acceptable state, we can not imagine life without it. Maybe, in all honesty, we do not want to, but Galatians 5:1 tells us that “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Yet every day, we make choices to live in the slavery of sin. With everything we do, think or say, we are faced with the choice to do it God’s way or do it our way and more often than not, we choose our way over God’s.

Sin is disobedience, plain and simple. Sin is doing, thinking or holding on to what we should not, even when we know it. Sin is doing it my way instead of God’s way. As previously mentioned, sin is an interior issue, not an exterior one. James 1:14-15 “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” 1 John 1:6, “If we claim to have fellowship with him (God) yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” I heard a sermon recently where the preacher (not my Father or Husband) was talking about sin. Yet, he did not call it sin. He talked about mistakes and errors in judgment. He talked about those “oops” that we do, not doing things right and that we are only human. It is time that we faced sin head on, call it what it is and determine that it is time to get a handle on our own evil desires. I know the world thinks there are gray areas, but a good rule of thumb is, if we have to ask if what we are doing is wrong, we probably should stop and run away. Stop making excuses and let’s begin to take God seriously.

In order to take God seriously, we need to understand what God say about sin. The Word is very clear and we should have no difficulty with interpretation. Get ready, these are tough words, from Romans 1:18 – 2:6 “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

“But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile.* But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” (New Living Translation)

We have been taught that sin is a part of life and we have no control over it. “We are only human” and “God made me this way” have become our most favored excuses to remove our responsibility and keep doing what we are doing. Let’s be honest, we sin because the consequences seem so far away, everyone else is doing it, it seems harmless, and generally sin is fun. We would not do it, if it was not fun and if it did not give us some pleasure in return. Even if just for a short time. Watch the TV or read a magazine and you will soon understand that our whole purpose in life is to make ME happy. Society has developed a serious idol worship. The idol of self. Everything we do, we do for our comfort, progress and personal wellbeing. (continued in Debt Free Lives, Part 2)

Our Debt

2 Jul

As a Credit Manager, for a furniture manufacturer, I am very aware of debt and the driving force it has on our society. Each day I see so many companies that have given up and filed bankruptcy, because it has become impossible to manage. Some days have hundreds of bankruptcy filings. As a family with two auto loans, a camper loan, student loan and credit cards, my husband and I are very aware of the oppressive weight that debt can hold over our lives. We (personal or corporate) do not want to be in debt, but we are drawn in to the “gotta have it” mentality and then once in debt, it become very difficult to get out and stay out. It reminds me of trying to diet. We go one pound down and two pounds up, until we wake up one morning and realize that we have no idea how we got to where we are.

Let me try to give some perspective to the debt situation in the United States. With the U.S. National Debt Clock ticking, up to $10,624,404,037,210.22 on January 27, 2009 and the ever increasing Consumer Debt at $2.6 trillion, we are well in over our heads. If the estimated population of the U.S. is 305,539,618 then each one of us, from my three year old grandson to my 80 year old Father-in-law, owe $43,000 each. The average household size is 2.59 persons, which makes the household share of this debt $112,076 and since the median household income is only $50,000, we are in serious trouble.

In my work, over the years, I have been fascinated by people and their ways of dealing with debt. Some pay according to the agreement with the lender and take their commitment with all seriousness. Others pay according to their ability or the convenience of making a payment, regardless of what is owed. These people become indignant when questioned about or reminded of their debt. There are debtors that acknowledge their debt and make payments when reminded, but otherwise do not think much about it. These are the people that will only pay those debts that are brought to their attention. There are also those who simply do not acknowledge their debt and have no intention of paying it. This list is not exhausted, because it is as long as the list of people in the world, but it gives us an idea and I suspect we can put ourselves in one of these categories.

When each of us finally come to the place where we are ready to face our debt, we find that we are either totally overwhelmed and can hardly see a future of freedom or we determine that it is nothing more than a nuisance, but not a priority. We may decide that debt is really something other people have a problem with, but ours is totally under control. Some may actually have the attitude that debt is the lenders issue, not the borrowers and this is a very dangerous conclusion to draw, as it removes us from all responsibility of our debt.

Scripture is quite clear about debt. Proverbs 22:7, says, “…the borrower is servant to the lender.” and in 22:26-27, “Do not be a man who strikes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you”. Romans 13:8 states “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” I do not think God can be any clearer and we have not even looked at all of the passages that warn us about being in debt or lending.

Financial debt, the debt of money borrowed and repayment owed, is something that we are all aware of and understand. Is is the force that drives our economy and can ruin our families. It can take an entrepreneurial dream and turn it into a bankrupt nightmare. It is a predicament that can start war and end in death. It is something that can make an average,  upstanding, moral man turn to crime to make ends meet. A family with all the comforts the world can imagine may suddenly find themselves living in a shelter or worse, on the street. As overwhelming and impossible as this all may seem, it is nothing when compared to the debt of sin that we owe. If you thought $10,624,404,037,210.22 was a big number, try putting a value on the debt of our sin as viewed by the eyes of the innocent one who paid our debt on the cross. If we work hard and live within our means, we may someday find freedom from our financial debt to others. The only means we have to pay off our sin debt is the gift of Grace that God provided through his Son, Jesus Christ. We can not live within our means and do anything good.  As Paul said, “our best is but filthy rags”. It is God, and God alone, that can make all things new.

As clear as Scripture is about financial debt, it is just as clear about our debt of sin. Romans 3:23, says “for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” and 6:23 tells us that, “For the wages of sin is death….”. The hope of Christ is found in Colossians 2:13-14 which says, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

Just as people respond to financial debt in various ways, we respond to sin debt in the same manner. To some, sin is overwhelming and seems impossible. For others, it is a nuisance, but not a big deal. Sin just means a little guilt now and then. Many of us see sin as something other people have a problem with or that it is God’s issue, not the sinner’s. You know,  if he didn’t make so many rules, we would not have so many problems. We have very unhealthy attitude about both debt & sin. We become flippant about financial debt (only $20 on my JCP card), until it becomes a hopeless problem. We become flippant about sin debt (only a little gossip, only a $1 lottery ticket, not really a bad word, gluttony?, greed?, I’ve gotta have it….), until we begin to suffer the consequences of the sin. Then it becomes a mountain.

I have worked with people who have paid off huge debt over a long period of time. It seemed impossible, but when it is done, they felt great and I felt great. In those times, when I have worked with them to pay off the debt or I was able to write off a portion to help them out, it is as if they have a fresh start. What if, after the debt was clear, they continued to work on it and worry about it and call me? That would not make sense. I would feel bad that I could not convince them that it is finished. What if they turned around and ordered another $10,000, with no more ability to pay than the did before? I would feel that all my work was for nothing. So how do we suppose Jesus feels, when he said, “It is finished” – John 19:30 and yet we continue to trying to fix it (pay it off) ourselves? Why do we continue to carry it around and beat ourselves up? Why do we just turn around and do it again? Why do we have such a hard time living in the  freedom that Christ provides? The answer is simple, “…the Devil prowls around, like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8 and “…by our own evil desire, we are dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15. This is an internal, ongoing battle that is not going to go away.

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