You Don’t Owe God Anything
“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation”
What does it mean to be reconciled with someone? Rather it be a spouse, business partner, parent, child, neighbor–whoever–when you hear a person say, “We’ve reconciled,” what immediately comes to your mind? More than likely you’ll think, “So you guys are cool with each other now? That’s good.”
Webster defines reconcile as this: “To restore to friendship or harmony.” “To check a financial account against another for accuracy.”
When you reconcile a relationship or a checkbook, what are you doing? You are releasing the balance and evening things up. You no longer owe. A few years ago, the title of this devotional would have ticked me off, “I don’t owe God?! You’re crazy! I owe Him everything! After all He’s done for me?! How dare you say that I don’t owe God!”
Yeah, my knickers were a little too tight. But why? Why would I be so upset about somebody saying that I don’t owe God a thing?…Because I didn’t fully grasp what He had done for me. My life had been changed by Him in such a drastic way–because I was finally living out my relationship with Him–but still, I was on the treadmill of “Gotta pay God back! Gotta pay God back!” and all along, I didn’t have to pay God back. All I had to do was be myself.
A grace-confused Christian might bark at me, “Matt, you can’t say that all you had to do was be yourself! You are a sinner on the inside! Your heart is still wicked!”
Friend, no it’s not. My heart is perfect. My heart is one with God. So many Christians today don’t understand this fact because they’ve been taught they have two natures–we don’t. Christians have one nature–that of God–and then we have flesh. Big difference.
When a pastor tells someone, “Come to Jesus and be made completely new!” but then the next Sunday, “Repent! You wicked sinner!” people are going to be bamboozled–rightfully so. This is called double-talk, and it will either make you frustrated and angry, or self-righteous due to denial. There is no in-between because this type of teaching makes no sense. We must be clear about what has happened in us once we first believed.
Christian, you received a new heart the moment you realized Jesus has forgiven you. You have a heart that is good. The religious Christian will pull an Old Testament verse out of context and try to slap it on the New Covenant to prove we are bad inside:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (See Jeremiah 17:9)
And sure, this is correct, but only for non-believers. Once we place our faith in Jesus, we get a new heart–a heart that is one with Jesus. Ezekiel prophesied this heart transplant would happen, hundreds of years before Christ was born:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
Do you see that? Do you see what God’s plan was all along? It was wiping your slate clean and making you new inside. This happens through the New Covenant! The New Covenant of what? Complete reconciliation with God by grace through faith in the Messiah.
After the Cross, the author of Hebrews explains what happens in our hearts by believing in Jesus. We go from being judged by Mosaic Law, to understanding God’s “laws,” as in, “What God really wants,” from the inside of us. Just look:
“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” (Hebrews 10:16)
The legalist will immediately shout, “See Matt! Law! God wants us to obey His Law!” and I’d say, “Ah, ah, ah, now wait a minute. This does not say Law, as in the Mosaic Law, but instead, laws, as in, knowing what God expects from us through His Spirit in us. That’s why it says hearts and minds.”
God’s Spirit is not trying to get us to stop eating shellfish and pork-chops–part of the Mosaic Law. The writer of Hebrews deliberately changed this word to a lowercase “law” and added an “s” to make it “laws.” He wanted to be clear with the Jews who were still attempting to live by Law (all 613, not just 10), to know that God will teach them right from wrong, organically, from the heart. Law was no longer needed because God was in them! Here’s proof:
“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:11)
WE ALL KNOW GOD ONCE HE COMES TO LIVE IN US! And how could God possibly come and live in us if we have a wicked, sinful heart? He won’t! That’s why He removes our heart and gives us a new one! Your spirit is brand new! Believer! Inside you, you are new! You really do want what God wants! This is why sin never feels good permanently! You weren’t made for it! Your flesh might get a temporary thrill from acting on sin, but you hate sin! We are not of the flesh, we are of the Spirit! Paul tells the Romans:
“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the Law SO THAT we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6, my emphasis added)
This is your identity. You live by the new way of the Spirit of God in you, guiding you, counseling you, and comforting you. You are led by a heart that is reconciled with God not by Jewish rules and commands–you don’t need them! You’ve got God’s Spirit! That is, if you’ve believed Jesus has forgiven you. If you have, you are new. This could have happened decades ago, but you just now are realizing it!
YOU. ARE. NEW.
YOU. ARE. NEW.
YOU ARE NEW!
You are new because you’ve been reconciled with God for good! Paul informs the Colossians, “You have been reconciled with God through Jesus’ body! You are holy! You are without blemish! You are free from all accusation!” (See Colossians 1:22).
Friend, we don’t owe God anything because Jesus paid everything off for us. If He didn’t, then what was the Cross for? Was it not good enough? Does the Messiah need your help? No, He doesn’t. The answer is no. He did what He did as a free gift. When someone gives you a gift, you don’t help them give it to you. Instead, you open up your hands and say, “Thank you.”
God doesn’t have you on a scale, waiting for you to make your good side rise higher than the bad side–YOU DON’T HAVE A BAD SIDE! You’ve got flesh and some old stinking thinking, but as you walk by your perfect spirit, those things will be a non-factor (Galatians 5:16, Philippians 4:8). And when they are temporarily a factor, God’s grace is a much larger factor (see Romans 5:20).
This is the only thing we are qualified to preach…the ministry of reconciliation with God. We aren’t supposed to be yelling at people to start living right, we are supposed to let people know that they are right with God. As a matter of fact, this is the only ministry we are qualified to preach, and that is, “Christian, you are okay with God. You’re okay.” Just look at what Paul told the Corinthians:
“Now all these things are from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
“Gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” This is the purest form of ministry we can have! Which is letting people know they don’t owe God! Once a person knows and believes this fact, they will begin to enjoy a loving relationship with their Creator. You can’t savor an intimate union with someone while knowing you owe them–the debt has to be released. Jesus did that for us, with God, at the Cross.
So today, my friends, know this: We don’t even have the ability to pay God back. All of our efforts are but filthy rags, no matter how “amazing” they appear to be. Your best gifts to God will not come from effort, but from simply being yourself. He’s your Daddy who enjoys the scribbly drawings you’ve made for Him. Further, God doesn’t need anything from you–He’s God! He just wants you to live your life as His child. Good dads don’t hound their kids to pay them back, instead, they let their debts go because they love them. God, is a good dad. He’s the best one ever. Believe this because it’s true, and be who He has made you to be in your heart: a heaven-ready saint.
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, your Word says in Acts 17 that you are not served by human hands because you are in need of nothing, and I believe that. It took me a long time to realize this as I tried to keep my spot with you, but all along it was mine for free because I’m your son. Thank you for teaching me who I am in my heart. I’m completely reconciled with you and you love me unconditionally. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who are working their hardest to be good for you, let them know that they ARE good. Let them know that on the inside, you live there and they are complete. Help them to realize their actions and attitudes cannot change their identity in you–let them know who they are! You stay with us and we keep our identity because you love us, and because you’re our Dad. You don’t do this for us to pay you back because Jesus paid it all. Give these dear readers peace in knowing who they really are inside, that is, Children of God! In Jesus’ name, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 3. Get your copy here!