Imagine I were to give you the following assignment: "I want you to sit down with a non-Christian who knows nothing of the Bible. He has only vaguely heard of Jesus Christ, and he's not even sure there is a God. I want you to explain to him how to become a Christian." Would you be able to do that? Could you sit down with somebody and explain simply what it means to become a Christian?
Many Christians don’t have a clear understanding what we're asking people to do when we ask them to become a Christian. What is it about? It's found in this phrase, "Forgive us our debts." In this phrase there are two profound implications to this simple request.
First, that request implies we have all sinned. Whenever you talk to people about their need for Jesus Christ, you have to begin with sin. Without the bad news, there is no good news. And here is the bad news: there is a God in heaven who has an objective list of requirements, and all of us have fallen short of those requirements. The Bible says, "There is none righteous, not even one... For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:10, 23). Most of us have a hard time believing that we really are in need of forgiveness because we compare ourselves to other people. We think as long as we haven't molested a child or committed murder, we're pretty good. Not perfect, but good enough. Yet the standard God uses to judge us is not other people. His standard is His perfect Son, Jesus Christ. And the Bible says that compared to the perfection of Jesus Christ, we have all fallen short. All of us have sinned.
Second, we owe God for our sin. Because we have sinned against God, we owe God a debt for the sin we have committed. What is that debt? Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death." Not just physical death but eternal death, eternal separation from God. We’ve all sinned. But here is the essence of the Christian message: Jesus Christ paid for our sin. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid our debt for us.
Here is the most important issue of your entire life: Who is going to pay for your sin? You have a choice. You can say, "God, I'll try to pay it myself." Then you will spend all eternity in hell trying to pay that sin debt, and it will never be paid off. Or you can choose to allow Jesus Christ to pay your debt for you. That's what He did when He died on the cross. He offered to take care of that debt for you. When you become a Christian, what you're doing is kneeling before a holy God and saying, "God, I know I've offended You. I know I have wronged You. I know I need to suffer for my sin, but I believe Jesus came and paid the debt for my sin in full. And I'm trusting in the name of Jesus to save me." The Bible says when we cry out to God in that way, He takes our faith and exchanges it for His perfect righteousness. That's what we're saying when we pray, "Father, forgive us our debts."
Forgive Us Our Debts - Pathway to Victory