Paid in Full

Niagara Gorge from Whirlpool State Park, New York
Niagara Gorge from Whirlpool State Park, New York

I believe most of us as Christians would say that we believe that Christ bore all of our sins on the cross – that we are 100% forgiven of our sins.  This is the theme that is taught in churches, used in evangelism, and pressed upon us from the scriptures.  It’s true – our sins have been paid for in full (see Colossians 2:13-14).

Hiking toward Chesler Park, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Hiking toward Chesler Park, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Paul told us, “Forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ” (Ephesians 4:31).  I wonder if perhaps we understood the fullness of our sins forgiven – in other words, if we grasped just how forgiven is paid in full – if we would be quicker to forgive the sins that people do against us.

Above an unnamed waterfall along the trail to Santanoni Peak, Adirondack Park, New York
Above an unnamed waterfall along the trail to Santanoni Peak, Adirondack Park, New York

But the idea of paid in full goes deeper than just our sins.  Isaiah wrote, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering… he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4a, 5a).  If you look into the original Hebrew words here (I love interlinear!), you find some interesting things.  First, the word “pain” can also be translated sorrows or sufferings, while the word for “suffering” can also be translated affliction, sickness, or grief.  Second, the word “iniquities” can also mean guilt or blame.

Looking down on the Badwater Salt Flats and the Black Mountains from near Wildrose Peak, Death Valley National Park, California
Looking down on the Badwater Salt Flats and the Black Mountains from near Wildrose Peak, Death Valley National Park, California

So to look at this passage, we find that Christ not only paid for our sins and trespasses, but also for our sorrows, afflictions, sicknesses, grief, guilt, and blame.  That’s a lot broader than just the bad things we’ve done in life!

Rhododendron flowers near Lover's Leap, Virginia
Rhododendron flowers near Lover’s Leap, Virginia

What if we could understand that God has paid for our guilt in full?  That would mean that we don’t have to be ashamed of anything we’ve done.  (Note: If we do sin, we should ask for forgiveness; see 1 John 2:1.)

Views from the trail to Hidden Lake Saddle, North Cascades National Park, Washington
Views from the trail to Hidden Lake Saddle, North Cascades National Park, Washington

What if we could see that God has paid for our grief in full?  That would mean that we don’t have to be in bondage to sadness.  (This is not a condemnation for those who are grieving; even Jesus wept (John 11:35).)

Side canyons near Point Imperial, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Side canyons near Point Imperial, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

What if we could see Jesus’ death on the cross as complete and 100% payment for everything we’ve done wrong?  Could we let go of the shame we deserve, the sorrow of things that have happened to us, the guilt of what we should have done differently, and the mental affliction that we place on ourselves for our misdeeds?

Blue Hen Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Blue Hen Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

I believe that we can.  I believe that we should.  If we can finally see all of our sins, griefs, shame, etc. as paid in full, I believe we will be much quicker to forgive, just as Christ as forgiven us, and that will heal and restore so much of our lives to the way that God intends them to be.