top of page

How Much Spiritual Debt Do You Have?

Jesus went to have dinner at the invitation of a Pharisee named Simon. During the meal, a woman known to be “sinful” in the area came and washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and anointed Him with her expensive perfume. This act by the woman brought thoughts of disdain toward Jesus in the heart of Simon: “he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). Jesus heard Simon’s thoughts and told him a story:

40Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. 41"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" (Luke 7:40-42).

Simon’s thoughts betrayed him to the Lord. He judged Jesus for allowing this known sinful woman to draw near and touch Him. The Lord spoke a parable about two debtors. Although Jesus told the parable to Simon, it applies to all of us. Each of us has a debt of sin that we have brought upon ourselves.

At the time of Christ, a denarius was the take-home pay of a man for a day's wages. One of the men in the story had debt equivalent to a month and a half's wages, while the other man’s debt was equal to one and a half year's wages. Jesus was acknowledging that, outwardly, the sinful woman’s sin was of the sort that was a high debt, but at the same time, He was pointing out that even though Simon thought that he was morally a better person, he could not pay his debt of sin either. Both were unable to pay. Every one of us is spiritually bankrupt before this Holy God to whom we must give an account someday (Romans 14:12). Let's use the analogy of being an Olympic long jumper. Maybe you can long jump eight feet compared to Bob Beamon's Olympic world record achievement in the long jump of 29 feet, 2 inches. However, if you both had to jump across Niagara Falls at a distance of 1800 feet, both would fail. It matters not whether you are a 50-denarii sinner or a 500-denarii sinner; no one can meet the demands of a holy God. Jesus put it this way:


For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20, Emphasis added).

The law was given that men and women would see their need for a Savior, turn to Him, and have their sins–debts canceled. We can all improve our lives and characters to a certain degree, but we cannot cancel out the debt of sin against us by ourselves. Author R. Kent Hughes put it like this:

“What we must understand is that the condition for being forgiven is to realize that we are broke and insolvent, where we are accomplished moralists or accomplished sinners. This is the problem—people keep trying to persuade God to accept the currency of their own making. Some submit the currency of integrity. “God, I work with compulsive liars. The only honest man I know is myself. Surely I am acceptable.” Others would argue that their domestic currency ought to make it. “In this X-rated world, my life is a wholesome G. I’m faithful to my wife. I love her and my children. I am a good husband, father, and son. I reckon that’s all I’ll need!” Social currency is a favorite too. “I am truly color-blind. My money (lots of it) goes to the needy. I volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center. I really do care. The world needs more people like me, and so does heaven.” Church currency is perhaps the biggest delusion. “I live at church. My goodness will surely be accepted.”[1]

It is good to consider where we would be if the Lord hadn’t interrupted our path and eternally changed our lives with the Gospel. Those thoughts should give us a new appreciation and gratitude for Christ. If there is a lack of love toward Christ, it is because of a lack of awareness and consciousness of the debt of sin we had before we met Him. But maybe you still carry your debt? If so, isn't it time to come to the Lord and have Him graciously pay your debt? Turn to Him today, acknowledge your sin so He may forgive you, and have your debts paid for by Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross. Keith Thomas


Taken from the more in-depth version, Jesus and the Sinful Woman.

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word Series, Luke, Volume One. Wheaton, Illinois. Crossway Books, 1998. Page 280.


Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page