It was a sweet surprise that I’ll never forget. I was nine months pregnant and one week past my due date. I was enormous and uncomfortable. Every additional minute seemed like an eternity! To ease my troubles, my husband took me out for a meal to remember—complete with a generous slice of six-layer chocolate cake. When my husband tried to hand our credit card to the waitress, she refused to take it. We were confused. Why wouldn’t she let us pay for our meal?
“Someone has already paid your bill,” she said, gesturing toward a smiling man and woman who had seen my enormous belly and wanted to bless us.
What a treat! What a gift!
We thanked them and walked out of the restaurant with light hearts.
It would have been rude and ungrateful to insist on paying, and it would have been foolish to pay for the meal twice. Our meal was paid for: all we had to do was receive the unmerited gift.
Do you insist on paying for your sin?
This is the scene that came to my mind as I was studying Hebrews 9. As I read, I realized that Jesus has paid for my sin in full, but I often try to repay him or forego his gift. I confess my sin, knowing that God forgives readily, but then I don’t let myself off the hook. My past sin paralyzes me, guilt overtakes me, and I live as if my good behavior or anxious thoughts are my only hope for reconciliation.
This is sad, I tell myself. My debt has been paid by Jesus. Why am I holding back from God, insisting on paying my debt again?
Can you relate? Are you counting on good behavior or self-punishment to pay for your sin? Are you hoping that time—or even death—will somehow free you from your guilt? Because He loves you, God has provided a once-for-all payment for your sin that you can receive today.
Let’s take a look at Hebrews 9 and find rest for our anxious, guilt-ridden hearts.
Hebrews 9 is the middle chapter in a trilogy that reflects on the Old Testament and illuminates the ways that Jesus is the minister of a better covenant (chapter 8), is a better Tabernacle (chapter 9), and is a better sacrifice (chapter 10). By looking at the ways in which Jesus is a better Tabernacle, we learn that we do not need to repeatedly pay for our sin.