There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. – Romans 3:10-12
Have you ever met a man who has no money and has declared bankruptcy. He does only two things – try very hard to pay for the debt or to just continue piling up more debt. In a lot of ways we as sinners are bankrupt – spiritually. Bankrupt that even our best efforts are considered like filthy rags before God. (Isaiah 64:6). We try to do good, be good, give to the poor, we try everything to act good but by nature we are not and we still end up sinning and realizing that we cannot pay the humongous spiritual debt we have.
The Bible talks about the wages of sin is death ( Romans 6:23) which means I cannot pay for it unless I die. The good news is that somebody died for us already. We learned that salvation and eternal life is a gift from God. (John 3:16-17) and that we can receive it by grace through faith ( Ephesians 2:8-9)
In the gospel we can see that Jesus died in my place. We have been declared bankrupt permanently and Christ redeemed us from the spiritual bankruptcy by becoming a curse for us on the cross. However, some Christians subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God. We feel that we still have to pay for something and we find it too simple just for Christ to do everything for us.
We were saved by grace but we choose to live apart from God’s grace when we try to take control of our lives. Jerry Bridges wrote in his book, Transforming Grace,
One of the best kept secrets among Christians today is this: Jesus paid it all. I mean all. He not only purchased your forgiveness of sins and your ticket to Heaven, He purchased every blessing and every answer to prayer you will ever receive. Every one of them – no exceptions