[God] 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 2:14

Once you have received God’s forgiveness, refuse to allow Satan to paralyze you with guilt. After you receive God’s forgiveness, you will be ready to start walking in a new direction in your relationship with your God–when suddenly, Satan will grab you and say, “Wait just a moment. Where do you think you’re going? Don’t you remember what you did?” And he will bring to your mind memories from your past about some of the terrible things you have done. Satan will say, “How will God ever use you again after you have done that?” That’s what Satan does. Revelation 12:10 says that Satan “accuses [us] before our God day and night.” That is why it is so important that we refuse to allow Satan to make us feel guilty. How do you do that? By understanding what God did when He forgave you. David expressed it this way in Psalm 51:9: “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” Whenever you confess your sins to God, He not only crosses through them but He blots them out; He erases them completely.

In Colossians 2 Paul used a different metaphor to describe how God forgives our sin completely. He said, “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” (v. 13). Notice the word “all.” God doesn’t forgive you only of the easy sins or the small sins. He is willing to forgive you of all your transgressions. How could a holy God do that? Can God just overlook our sin? No. Look at what He does: He “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us” (v. 14). The Greek word translated “certificate of debt” is “cheirographon.” A cheirographon was an IOU that a debtor held. Paul was saying that we all owe a debt to God for our sin.

Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.” Every time you think a wrong thought or break one of God’s commands, your sin debt keeps increasing. That is the certificate of debt we owe. You say, “How could we ever repay it?” The truth is, we can’t repay it. That is why most people in the world will spend eternity in hell, because they have a debt that has not been paid to God.

So when I become a Christian, does God rip up the IOU? No, a holy God can’t do that. My sin has a real obligation that must really be paid. So what does God do with my certificate of debt? “He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). God had to pay off your debt and my debt. And the One who paid it was Jesus Christ. Somebody asked me this week, “Pastor, of all of Christ’s sayings on the cross, which is your favorite? I said, “That’s easy. It’s John 19:30 when Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ Paid in full.” Whenever you are reminded of past sins you have committed, remember the phrase “paid in full.” Jesus paid it all. His payment is final. His payment is complete. And the best part is that His payment is forever.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Receiving God’s Gift of Forgiveness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.