Paid In Full
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I have had a rough couple of months when it comes to driving – I’ve gotten three tickets! One was because I didn’t “stop” when I was turning right on a red light, and the other two were for speeding. All three were my fault. I couldn’t say the red light camera didn’t actually have a picture of my car failing to stop before I turned right. On the other two, I couldn’t say the policeman’s radar wasn’t correct. I was actually going as fast as the policeman said I was. Now on the last one, I could claim ignorance because I hadn’t ever noticed that most of Hillcrest is now marked as a school zone.

Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

Claiming ignorance wasn’t going to help me though. I wasn’t any less guilty because I didn’t notice the School Zone. The alternative to paying is losing my driver license, paying a bigger fine, or, if I continue to refuse to pay for my transgression, I could go to jail.

Do you think that if I went into City Hall and told them I was very, very sorry for speeding, and I won’t ever do it again, that they would tell me not to worry about it and let me go on my way? Well, for the first ticket I got to take Defensive Driving, but that only works the first time. After that, I am responsible for paying some kind of fee for my transgression and, once I’ve paid, the ticket is still on my record.

Getting tickets really stinks, but beyond that we know that the “fine” we owe God for our sins is not just a few dollars! We owe full price – and there’s no defensive driving course to get that particular transgression off the record.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Are you prepared to pay the “wages of sin?”

I am not!

Thankfully, long before Adam and Eve sinned, Jesus had made a plan of what to do to pay the fine for you and me. And not just to pay the fine, but completely wipe it off the books as though we had never broken the rules in the first place.

Have you ever wondered how that whole substitutionary thing works?

“For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” Romans 6:10

But what does that mean, exactly? I always pictured it like this: Jesus is standing in what looks like a courtroom. God is sitting in the judge’s seat. Satan is the prosecuting attorney and Jesus is the defense attorney. The bailiff angel calls your name and Satan stands up and begins to list all of the things you have done that qualify as sins. (It’s usually a very long list.) Before he gets too far, though, Jesus jumps up and objects. He tells the court that none of those infractions appear on your record.

Now it’s Satan’s turn to object. He insists that you have committed all those sins and that the wages of sin must be paid. You’re sentenced to death and blood must be shed. God agrees that since you have committed all those sins, you cannot be with Him in Heaven – being in His perfect presence would destroy you.
Just when you think your case is lost, Jesus steps forward again and announces to the court that since you accepted Him as your Defense Attorney, your record has been purged of all of your infractions. He has shed the blood that is required and posted it beside your name.

God smiles and strikes His gavel on the desk. Your case is dismissed; you’re free to go.

You are still reeling from the unexpected turn of events. You’re trying to wrap your mind around what just happened when you hear the bailiff call the next name. He also announces that this person has waived his right to the Defense Attorney. The person sitting next to you stands up, and Satan begins reading the list of laws that that person has broken, but you don’t hear any objection from Jesus. You look around and see Jesus sitting at His table with tears running down His cheeks. When Satan finishes his list, the courtroom is silent. Finally, God sadly brings down His gavel and announces that this person has chosen to pay his own fines for his own sins, and the fine for sin is death.

We believe that is what’s been going on the heavenly Sanctuary since 1844. When it is finished, then Jesus will come and take those who chose Him as their Defense Attorney into Heaven with Him. Those who did not chose Jesus stay out.

“Can I propose that Jesus began his public ministry the same way he ended it? He ended his ministry being crucified, covered with the sins of the world. He began his ministry being baptized, identifying volitionally with the sins of the world.

“Would you allow me a couple of minutes of silliness? Let me give you a vision of what could have happened that day. It expresses, as I see it, the implications of what is going on here. We’re standing around there, and we understand that big things like this have to be organized. We make a plan. One of us says, ‘When you decide to come and repent, folks, we want you to register. We’ll get your name down on a mailing list, and we’ll give you a name tag so that the baptizers can be more personal with you. Just step forward, and tell us your first name and your most awful sin.’

“Up to this table steps Bob. ‘Name?’

“‘Bob.’

“‘What’s your most awful sin, Bob?’

“‘I stole some money from my boss once.’ The person takes a marker and writes, BOB: EMBEZZLER.

“Next person: ‘Name?’

“‘Mary.’

“’Mary, what’s your most awful sin?’

“’I slandered some people. I said things that weren’t true. I just didn’t like them.’ So the person writes, MARY: SLANDERER.

“’Name?’

“’George.’

“’What’s your most awful sin?’

“‘I’ve been coveting my neighbor’s Corvette.’ GEORGE: COVETER.

“’Name?’

“’Gordon.’

“’Gordon, your most awful sin?’

“‘Adultery.’ GORDON: ADULTERER.

“And the person writing, with some degree of gloating, slaps the name tag on the chest of each person. Then all these people, with their name tags and their most awful sins, line up by the river, waiting to be baptized in repentance.

“Up to the table comes Jesus. Jesus’ most awful sin? Well, there aren’t any. So Jesus starts walking down the line. He steps up to Bob and says, ‘Bob, give me your name tag,’ and he puts it on himself. ‘Mary, give me your name tag.’ He puts it on himself. ‘George, give me your name tag.’ It goes on himself. ‘Gordon, give me your name tag.’

“Soon the Son of God is covered with name tags and awful sins. Someone comes up and gently says to Jesus, ‘It’s a nice thing you’re doing. If you must do this, couldn’t you take off a few of the worst ones? If you’re going to spawn a messianic movement, you’ve got to be above reproach. Why don’t you take off the tag that says, MURDERER. Take the adulterer tag off, too. Those are too despicable. We’re talking about nines and tens here.’

“Jesus says, ‘You don’t realize that I am the Son of David. David had to wear those name tags, and I will not write him off, for I have forgiven him.’

“In my vision, I see Jesus going to the water to present himself to John. The Savior is baptized. At the risk of being trite, in my vision, the people who had the markers didn’t buy indelible ink. When Jesus comes up, all of the ink has been washed away and is going down the river. And I recall the words, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’

“That’s what repentance does. And that’s what Jesus’ ministry is all about. Without him, you and I are stuck.”1

  1. Gordon MacDonald, “Repentance,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 121
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Paid In Full — 12 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. I read this article this morning during my devotion and I was truly blessed. I felt as though I was ushered right into the throne room of God. Yes Jesus came to take away not just some but all of our sins. But it is even better than that. He has the power to change us so that we don't have to keep sinning. How wonderful is that! Oh that men would praise the Lord for His wonderful acts towards the sons of men! Glory Halelujah!

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  2. Beautiful lesson Lillianne. Is that Hillcrest in Dallas? I remember it well. I too had a similiar experience while living in the Dallas area. I was on my way to work one morning and got a speeding ticket. Just a few hours later I had to deliver some things in downtown Fort Worth and while walking across the street I got a jay walking ticket! Two tickets in one morning! I did go to the traffic court and pleaded for mercy and one ticket was dismissed. The judge kept hinting at me to plead another way or something but I did not catch on. I think he would have dismissed both tickets. Thank God for merciful judges! At the same time Jesus does not dismiss our charges. He pays them Himself! Thank you Lilliane for a wonderful post, and one that hit home with me.

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  3. Sometimes we present God the Father as being this stern judge.
    My understanding is that Jesus is not only the sin offering, He is also the defense attourney and also the Judge. See Is. 33:22, and Acts 10:42, 2 Tim 4:1. Everything that can be done has been done
    by Jesus. What a wonderful, loving, saving God is He!

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  4. Lillianne, actually the lesson of the tags is already taught in scripture. The high priest was to wear a breastplate with twelve gems representing the twelve tribes of Israel. It was worn over his chest and was suspended from his shoulders (tied to the two stones on his shoulders which also bear the names of the twelve tribes). Jesus is our High Priest who carries the burden of His people on His shoulders and over His heart so as to never forget them or the burdens they have.

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    • Tyler and Lilliane, thank you so much for this picture that will now be forever in my mind: The breast plate of the High Priest which has the tribes of Israel represented on it, can also be seen as having the sins of the people "tagged" on it, as in Lilliane's post.

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    • I had not thought about the similarities of the illustration I used and the high priests breastplate. It is such a blessing to realize that Jesus carries the weight of our sins on His shoulders.
      Thank you for your comments and for reading.

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  5. Hi Lillianne,

    In 1979, I was the manager of a natural food store and I was a single, unwed mother. Every day I would drive a couple of miles from the store to visit my 6-month old baby at the baby sitters to nurse him. Enroute, the police stopped me three different times for speeding. In court, I was told I would loose my license, so I explained how the store needed me and so did my baby. The judge dismissed my tickets. I wasn't a Christian, but looking back, I see how good God was to me. Thanks for the ideas and great post.

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  6. Good Morning Lillian. I thank God for using you to speak to me this morning. My life lately has been full of guilt because of my faults/shortcomings/sins. What an assurance as I confess this morning that indeed Christ has paid it all. Doesn't give me the right to sin because I know I have an Attorney who wins cases, but gives me hope that should I fall again I have a Attorney to stand on my behalf. Be blessed this beautiful Sabbath day and forever.

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  7. The work of Jesus at this time is to remove sinfulness, not just taking our guilt as we keep sinning. The day will come when His office will cease, and if we are to be saved at all and be presented faultless, we will have achieved complete victory. THIS is what Jesus is working to accomplish, and as we look around the sanctuary, we see the means by which this is accomplished in us. He wants a people who have perfect driving records like His, but we understand from scripture that we are not capable of driving perfectly ourselves. We need a Perfect Driver to take over the driving. This is taking Christ's yoke upon us, by learning of Him, who was dependent upon a greater power from outside Himself. We must be like branches, clinging to the life-giving Vine.

    Lillian, your illustration works as we understand the implications that point out our duty. The delay that has allowed over 7 generations to rise up after 1844 must come to an end. Jesus is not the delay, yet God's mercy delays Him. He said it would be only one generation who would see all those things come to pass and eternity ushered in. Which generation will gain the victory at last?

    Malachi speaks of those polished jewels that are worn by the high priest. It is "they that feared the Lord" and "that thought upon His name". They are righteous and serve God.(Mal 3:16-18) They are found to be faultless, overcoming even as Jesus overcame. While God's love is infinite, His mercy will not last forever for all who continue in sin.
    Let's allow Jesus to finish His good work He has begun in us. He has given "exceeding great and precious promises" that we might become partakers of His Divine nature. "Bless the Lord O my soul!"

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  8. Lillianne,

    I think that if one appreciates the great value and privilege of driving, then one might be careful about breaking the law. In Indiana, even if one violates the law in their personal vehicle (example-speeding), that violation goes against them if that person has a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). The idea is that one is a professional driver, whether or not they are driving their personal vehicle, a Greyhound bus, or a triple trailer truck. Besides, one can make a living in multiple ways by driving. In this context, having a substitute when one violates the law is powerfully meaningful. It can also serve to improve one's driving. Breaking the law happens to the best and most conscientious of drivers. I have met drivers with between 400,000 - 1,000,000 miles without an accident or fatality. So, a Mediator/Substitute is necessary.

    I need to rethink and re-appreciate the privilege of being a Christian. My idea of grace is unmerited empowerment to improve. The ones whom Jesus covered their sins in your example certainly, given the privileges that Christ has so freely given, need His empowerment to refrain from doing those sins again and again. Is it possible that some Christians view Jesus as being more "lenient" than man when it comes to law enforcement and consequences? Example: alcohol use. Jesus can and will forgive one who might succumb to alcoholism more than once. In Indiana, in contrast, a two-time CDL offender of driving while their blood alcohol limit is .04 (half of the limit of those with standard driver's licenses), would lose their CDL for a lifetime.

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    • Thanks David, for focusing on another aspect of the Atonement. It is an aspect that is often neglected -- namely the cleansing of the heart temple.

      Mary was to name her baby "Jesus," because he was to save His people from their sins. He didn't come just to forgive sins that are past but also to save us from sinning in the present. For that He needs our cooperation. We need to make ourselves available to Him -- to spend time with Him and to listen to His voice as it comes to us through the Holy Spirit. And we need to claim the power He so willingly gives us to overcome sin.

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  9. Thanks Lillianne for your comments about Christ taking the tags of our
    Sins and placing them upon himself. This is why I love home and serve him. To Godbe the glory.

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