On the Side - November 2014
Never Pay Twice
By Sharon Chatwell
Not too long ago my husband, Rick, and I made a mistake that’s not uncommon for couples that have been married for a long time; we both paid the same bill. It wasn’t a large bill, mind you, like the house mortgage or something. It was a relatively small bill, and one that we don’t usually receive. It was from one of those yard services that comes to your house and does a treatment on your yard. We had hired these folks to do two applications this year; one in the spring and another one in the fall.
So, they came in the spring, sent a bill, and we paid it. So far, so good. Then, they came in the fall, left a bill on the doorknob, and I paid it. But, this time they also sent my husband an email, with the same bill attached, and he paid it too. Happily, Rick thought to tell me that he’d done so, and eventually we were able to get a refund from the company over the phone.
Do you ever pay for things twice? Sure, maybe once in a while by accident. But, would you ever knowingly, voluntarily, happily, pay full price for anything... TWICE? No, I didn’t think so. Me neither. And to be frank, it would be a shame for any self-respecting company to allow you to do so.
I ask these questions rhetorically, but as examples of something we all understand; something we deal with on a routine basis. We don’t ever want to pay twice. So, WHY then do we ever fall prey to Satan’s tricks and try to pay twice for our sins?
Huh. Didn’t see that on coming, did you? Me neither. Let me explain.
A few days after the whole “yard thing,” I was driving along in my car, praying. I had been pretty unhappy lately, because I’d been dealing with a whole group of problems that seemed like they’d never go away. But that’s not the worst of it. After so long, I had begun to feel as if I actually deserved these problems. That somehow they were my fault... that some past sin of mine had actually caused these problems, and for that reason they were still hanging around my neck.
Our pastor at church has been doing a sermon series on the book of Ephesians, in which the Apostle Paul tries to help the believers at Ephesus understand their true standing with God. He tells them in Ephesians 1:3-7 that their sins have been paid for, that they were chosen by God in Christ from before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight, and that God had blessed them in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. That’s pretty liberating stuff. While I was still praying about these things, I suddenly had a new and inspired thought.
“What if Satan is just messing with me?” What if I’m so used to feeling ‘put upon’ in this way that I don’t realize the truth? What if I have spiritual power in this situation that I’m not using?” For the first time in months, reason began to dawn, and sanity was close to follow. “First of all,” I thought, “I don’t have to feel like I have to pay for any past sins, even if did commit them. JESUS has already PAID for those sins. I don’t have to pay for them again, no matter how I may ‘feel.’ And, if they are paid for, then I am blameless in God’s sight and should have some spiritual authority over the devil in this situation.”
I prayed again and told God that I knew Jesus had already PAID for these sins and that I didn’t really want to try and pay for them again… as if I could anyway! I knew better. I mean, it took Jesus, the Son of God, to pay for my sins. I couldn’t pay for them even if I wanted to; not if I tried for my whole life.
“And besides,” I said out loud, “I would never pay for anything twice!” That’s when it hit me! The yard thing! I laughed. I HAD paid for something twice… and not so very long ago either! Here was God using it as an object lesson for me! I prayed more earnestly now, finally realizing the spiritual truth of the situation.
“God,” I said, “I have already confessed these sins to you, and you say (in 1 John 1:9) that ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Satan has no authority in this situation, Lord, but he has taken away many things. Make him give them all back!”
It felt good to say the spiritual truth out loud in prayer; to agree with God and what He has to say. I immediately began to have peace in my heart, which had been missing for several weeks. And of course I should mention that, within just a few days, all of the situations, which had disturbed me, were miraculously better.
Never pay twice. It can be a great temptation for us to think that we should be worried about (or even try to pay for) some of our past confessed sins. It may even be a hidden arrogance of ours for us to think that we can do so. But the reality is that if Satan can make us ‘feel’ guilty, he can more easily hinder us from doing the things God has clearly given us to do. We imagine that God can’t use us or (worse somehow) that God wants us to busy ourselves trying to pay for our past sins.
That is a lie. And John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the father of lies.
Be free of Satan and his lies. Confess the truth with your mouth. God has forgiven our sins through our Savior, Jesus Christ. We do not need to pay for them again.
“Never pay twice” has become my new watch phrase. And I believe that, if I was able to fully understand the spiritual realities behind these words and apply them to my life, I wouldn’t even recognize the person that I would become.
Never pay twice. Jesus has already paid.
Sharon is a physician’s spouse living with her family in Lincoln, Nebraska. She invites you to realize the joy and freedom we have in Christ, and to understand that you never have to pay twice again.