Economists say that a person can be in debt for as short as one minute. When you walk around the store with your shopping cart, as soon as you place an item in your cart you are in debt. When you go to the cashier and pay, the debt has been settled. From this example, we conclude that almost everyone, including children, have been in debt. Many people have incurred large debts and their lives have become a burden. Creditors have come to, seize their property. Some people have borrowed money from one person in order to pay another creditor until it becomes a vicious circle. Many governments also, are carrying a large debt. Heavy taxes have to be charged to the citizens to enable the government to settle its debts.
The greatest debt that one has before God is sin that has not been forgiven. The Psalmist says: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there no guile” Psalms 32:1–2. Christ said, as we pray we must include the words: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12.
The Christian life must be a life free from debt both to God and his fellow man—spiritually and financially. Our peace of mind is dependent on freedom from debt. Every Christian, therefore, must strive to pay back his monetary debts and avoid incurring new ones. Many a time, we have erred and entered the snare of debt. The bible principle is clear: “Owe no man any thing.” Romans 13:8. The Spirit of Prophecy adds:
“Abstracting and using money for any purpose, before it is earned, is a snare. . . . Many, very many, have not so educated themselves that they can keep their expenditures within the limits of their income. They do not learn to adapt themselves to circumstances, and they borrow and borrow again and again and become overwhelmed in debt. . . . Be determined never to incur another debt. Deny yourself a thousand things rather than run in debt. This has been the curse of your life, getting into debt. Avoid it as you would with the small pox.” –Counsels for the Church, p. 155
If we have used God’s money (tithe) for ourselves, we must pay it back. Our repentance is only genuine when it is accompanied with restitution. “Whenever there has been a neglect on your part, to give back to the Lord His own, repent with contrition of soul, and make restitution, lest His curse rest upon you. . . . As the sin of robbing God was presented, the people received clearer views of their duty and privilege in this matter.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 98, 95. As this was done, a number of brethren gave back the Lord’s money. “Prayer will not pay our debts to God.” –Messages to Young People, p. 248. We may now make wise plans and pray over them that all these financial debts be settled and we are free.
The Debt of Sin
“The pleasures of sin are the cords with which Satan ties his victims to his snares.” –Maranatha, p. 82. To all who desire freedom from a sinful conscience, a remedy has been fully provided—repentance accompanied by confession. “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. The invitation to be cleansed and purged is given in simple language by the Lord through Isaiah the prophet: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18. Surely this God is a wonderful and merciful God! The beautiful picture given by another prophet regarding our sins is painted in the following words: “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, and will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18–19
The forgiveness of our sins depends on our forgiveness of others (Matthew 6:12). In Chapter 18 of the same book [Matthew], Peter greatly desired to know how many times one needed to forgive his brother who wronged him (verse 21). In His answer, Christ said that it is not seven times but seventy (70) X seven (7), which equals four hundred and ninety times (490X). What a deep lesson! In expanding the answer, Jesus gave a parable in which He likened the kingdom of God to a certain king who took account of his servants. The meaning of the parable is quite clear. God willingly forgives us large debts that carry enormous consequences while we often fail to forgive our friends who have small debts/wrongs against us. He concluded that those who cannot forgive the small debts from their fellow men will have their large debts reinstated and they will be delivered to the tormenters—eternal death. Similarly in Luke 17:3–4, forgiving one another must characterize all true followers of Christ. Upon hearing the depth of the message as presented in verse 4, the disciples were overwhelmed and felt greatly lacking. They asked the Lord to increase their faith (verse 5). We too have very likely maintained bitter enmity against others. This is the time. Cut the Chains!! Jesus is ready to grant the needed faith to accomplish this in response to our prayer as did the disciples in verse 5. The law is simple. Those who will not forgive will not be forgiven.
Small vs. LARGE Debt
Many feel that their debt before God is too big to be forgiven. Satan has successfully driven them to despair and at worst, led them to take their own lives. Our Lord, in Luke 7:40–43, teaches that those who have been forgiven much will love Him more than those who have been forgiven less. To those that feel they have gone too far and would not be received if they come to God, the message is: “Behold Your God!” Isaiah 40:9. The Lord says: “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:27–31
Dear brother, the year 2018 has now come to an end. Can you not free yourself from debt? Can you not also consider canceling that debt your brother owes you financially, or at least reduce it to half making him feel free? Dear sister, can you not forgive your adversary forever, the one towards whom you have been holding a grudge against until now?
A story is told of a young girl who had a dream about the translation of God’s people to heaven at the Second Coming. In the dream, she saw the saints going through the open passage to heaven. As she too tried to pass that passage which appeared as a big hole, an orange had covered the passage such that she could not go through. She tried and tried, but the orange had covered the circular passage. This was an orange she had stolen some time back but had not made things right. It was so sorrowful. “To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7
In the time of Ancient Israel, people distressed and with debts gathered themselves unto David. “And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him.” 1 Samuel 22:2. For us, where shall we go, for we find it challenging to change the status of things on our own? For us we have our “David”, and that is Jesus Christ. Christ is our “David” today. He is the tried Stone, the Rock of Ages. He is the only one to whom nothing is impossible. Today, He is ready to break the chains of our debts. He will faithfully facilitate the way to our freedom both from financial and spiritual debts. Only Christ can cut those chains. Let us give our hearts to Him and pray that as we enter the New Year we will enter it debt free. Amen.
Adapted from the sermon preached by Joel Msiska on Sabbath November 3, 2018