I don’t think that people necessarily would say this out loud, but I do believe that we certainly think it. The situation goes something like this:
- I made a sacrifice for God.
- I go to the church / mosque / temple every day / week / month / year.
- I read the Bible every day.
- I pray regularly.
- I fast and abstain from food / water / sex.
- I gave money to the church. I gave money to poor people. I’ve done good works to help others.
- I followed all of the rules…most of the time!
And so, therefore, God owes me. He owes me to get into heaven…right? Wasn’t that the deal? God gives me these rules, and I need to live like a good religious person, and then I get to go to heaven someday when I die.
God owes me.
Wrong. Not true. Incorrect.
Today, I read in Timothy 4 where Paul says this to Timothy:
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.1 Timothy 4:1-3
In chapter 3, Paul explains again to Timothy that there is one God and one Mediator, Jesus Christ. And it is through Jesus that we are given grace and mercy.
But instead of receiving grace and mercy from God, we frequently choose to believe the lie that is taught by demons, that if we just follow some rules, or if we are just religious enough, or if we are a good person, then God will owe you.
Some people believe that he owes you some type of ease in this life. They read that God is going to bless his people and they interpret it as God owing them money…meanwhile conveniently skipping over the fact that Jesus says that we should expect hardship and persecution.
Or other people believe that God owes you heaven, that because you have been a good person, or even if not a good person, a religious person, then God owes them eternal life.
But what are they really doing? By buying into this idea of following the rules and being, in some way the one who controls their destiny, they are simply considering themselves to be like God. This is the original lie that Satan told to Eve in the Garden of Eden, that by eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that their eyes would be opened and they would be like God.
But that is not at all the reality, and is certainly not the story that the scriptures tell. Instead, as those that have been created and who have rebelled against God, we deserve nothing more than punishment and death, but God gave himself as a sacrifice for each of us by sending Jesus Christ to receive the punishment of our sins. Therefore, we have before us an incredible gift of grace and mercy, and only through faith in this gift can we be saved.
God doesn’t owe me anything, but out of his love for me and for each of us, he has given me everything.