We had been shopping most of the day and we were stood at what I really hoped was the last pay point of the day when the woman that served us asked me to insert my credit card in the machine. She then asked me to put my PIN number in and, as I was typing it in (with fingers all aquiver) I remember saying to her, "I don't suppose that I'm your millionth customer and so get everything free?" It was her reply that got my attention when she said, "If it was up to me you could have everything free but somebody has to pay for it."
I took one hopeful glance all around before I put the PIN number into the machine and wondered, rather fancifully, whether anyone would step forward to put their credit card in the machine and pay for everything for me. Needless to say it didn't happen and so in went the final number that charged the cost of what we had bought to my credit card account and out came the receipt that showed I owed them HOW MUCH?
Have you realised that when we use our credit card to buy something we are actually getting the seller to give us the goods we are buying and charge it to our account? What we take home is not actually paid for until we pay off the credit card. We didn't actually pay for the goods when we used our credit card. We simply had the cost charged to our account.
There is an old and meaningful term used in accountancy to describe this procedure. It's called "imputing". It means recovering the initial cost. It involves the attribution of responsibility for the initial cost to someone.
That set me thinking. Concerning sin; God does not impute it to our account. He did not charge it to our account but, in the words of that shop assistant, someone had to pay for it. God never did and never will turn a blind eye to sin. The price had to be paid and so He paid the price for us. Now that has to be good news because it was something that we could never afford to pay.
Thankfully, though He never does overlook sin, He is willing to pass over our sins. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)
God did not and does not impute the responsibility of paying the cost of our sins to us...but someone had to pay for it. So God did when He sent Jesus to pay the full price by becoming sin for us, even though He never sinned, so that the weight of that debt could be removed from our shoulders and we could become free of debt in Him alone who was good enough and willing to bear the cost.
Does that mean that we are free to go and live however we want? Of course not. Sin always has consequences where it gives God's enemy an opportunity to put a barrier between us and God. But his accusations can never separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Remember that.
Little wonder then that the Apostle Paul, when he wrote to the Christians at Ephesus, could cry out, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3)
What a blessing indeed. Lets never forget that the debt that we have run up through sin was far too great for us to settle. The burden of such debt was far too great for us to carry. Can we ever appreciate enough that the Lord does not impute our iniquity to our account? He has recovered the cost by sending Jesus to bear the burden of our guilt and shame. The responsibility to settle the account belongs to Jesus. Why? Because someone had to pay for it. Now there's a thought.
All this is from God who, through Christ, reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)