“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 (Colossians 2:13-14).”
Riddle me this: “Every Wednesday morning I appear, make it all disappear, including myself. What am I?” Another riddle, one every kid knows, may help you solve the first one. “What has six wheels and flies?”
Frank, the best Riddler of all time
Once a week we put out the trash, all the ugly and disgusting things we create in a week that no longer have any value. Then this stranger rolls up in a massive truck and makes it all go away. Presto-chango, we’re clean again.
Spiritually, Jesus is the Garbage-Man. If we let Him, He rolls up and takes away our ugly, smelly trash, our “certificate of debt.” If He doesn’t pick it up, then we have to deal with it ourselves. With no waste agreement our trash remains. Some think it’s not a big pile; their trash isn’t that smelly; never raped or killed; they’re basically good.
But if you sin just once a day, after 70 years, your trashcan has 25,550 sins! Even a corrupt judge cannot ignore that record, but it’s not the degree of the sin, or the volume, it’s the fact that God is holy and His righteous character demands absolute perfection––holiness (Matthew 5:48, Habukkuk 1:13, James 2:10, Isaiah 59:2). God doesn’t grade on a curve.
The face of Justice
Our overflowing trashcan proves nobody’s perfect, so holiness seems a cruel standard, but it is just to punish a lawbreaker. Sin must be punished, especially over 25,000 of them; otherwise God is a crooked judge (imagine if the MSU trial judge let Nassar go free).
Complicating this required justice and His standard of holiness is the fact that the Judge loves you, but He can’t just wince at your trash if He’s a good judge. Unless a full payment is made, He’s stuck…loving a lawbreaker that He must condemn. And we’re stuck too…how can anyone unholy pay the penalty for their own sin (Isaiah 64:6)?
Fred, Fred old Cabbage-head
Enter the Garbage-Man. Jesus lived a sinless life to prove He was the perfect God-Man, and therefore qualified to pay our debt. An empty grave confirmed His death “cancelled out the certificate of debt.” God’s love and righteous judgment merged in Jesus, our substitute. His last words on the cross were “It is finished,” which also translates in Greek as “paid in full.”
Ignoring His payment offer is like telling your garbage-man not to come back. Don’t fool yourself that you’re clean enough to face a holy God without your trash picked up. Your best effort still doesn’t remove it. It’s piling up at the bottom of your driveway now. Only the God-Man can “take it out of the way,” but his waste agreement is total surrender (Isaiah 1:18, Luke 6:46). Remember, God does not grade on a curve…He grades on a curb.