23rd October 2022

Debt forgiveness in Christ

In The United States of America, more than 44 million people have outstanding school loan debt – amounting to more than $1.5 trillion that is currently owed. The forgiveness of school loan debt is currently one of the hot-button issues in American politics right now.

Many of the borrowers are paying thousands of dollars every year but are finding it nearly impossible to get out from underneath this mountain of debt. Those who have just recently graduated are starting to realize that they will be paying on these loans into their senior years. The prospect of having to carry that load for most of the rest of their lives seems overwhelming.

While the topic is controversial for some, debt forgiveness is not a new concept. Part of the ‘Year of Jubilee’ we read about in the Old Testament includes debt forgiveness every 50 years. We can also see debt forgiveness in ancient Babylon in the ‘Hammurabi Code’. Hammurabi ruled the Babylonian empire for 42 years. During his reign, he instituted four different general debt cancellations. The writings confirm that these were designed to ensure that the poor were not exploited and oppressed by the rich and that the widows and orphans were not burdened.

We also see debt forgiveness as far back as the 8th century BC practiced by the Egyptians. When the Rosetta Stone was finally deciphered in 1822, they found the inscriptions confirming debt cancellation. You can only imagine the relief brought about by the canceling of one’s debts. But these are just physical debts.

The Apostle Paul, who was well-schooled and was most likely educated about these historical practices, wrote about a more important debt to the Colossian Church:                                             

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him. (Colossians 2:13-15 ESV)

Before Jesus came, we were all under a great mountain of debt. There was no possible way for us to get ourselves out from underneath this burden. Until Jesus, there was no debt forgiveness in sight.

You may remember Paul’s oft-quoted statement ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ He said this to believers in Rome, reminding them that when Jesus went to the cross, he took all sin and all the trespasses of mankind with him. Everything was forgiven and we are now able to live free from the burden and demands of sin. We are redeemed citizens of the kingdom of God. Never again to be oppressed and ruled over by sin and death. All the charges against us have been nullified in Christ.

But the work of Christ goes so much further than just the forgiveness of sin and the release of the bondage to sin. We have been made alive with Christ, and it is through him that we are able to triumph in this life and the next.

Furthermore, unlike the ancient civilizations of Babylon and Egypt, where you could find yourself back to being in debt, we have died to that debt once and for all – we will never be under a system of spiritual debt again. 

Although, in this life, you may find yourself in debt due to buying a home or a car or taking out a school loan that you might be paying on until your grandkids are grown, just know that spiritually you are never going to be a debtor.

We are released from the oppression of sin and are living debt-free in Christ, who has freed and raised us into new life!

Presented by Cara Garrity


About the presenter:
Cara Garrity is an elder and Development Coordinator for GCI in the USA.
Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’(https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International

Local congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Word of Life contact: