Debtor's Prison

Sin creates a spiritual debt. Get out of debtor's prison


Debtor's Prison

A debtors prison, ever heard of such a thing? A debtors prison is a detention facility or jail, where people who ether for the inability or refusal to pay a debt were kept until the debt was paid. Have you heard the term, “thrown in the clink.” In London, there was a debtor’s prison that dates back to 1122 but the 14th century became known as The Clink. It's now a museum. The name came from the sound of the blacksmith’s hammer closing the irons around the wrists or ankles of prisoners.

If you had a debt you could not repay you were liable to incarceration. You had an option to work off your debt in labor or have someone pay your debt off, otherwise, you stayed in prison. Prison is not a good place to be today, it was worse for The Clink housed prisoners. Barbaric conditions, no indoor plumbing, no heating or air conditioning, no internet, no TV and you ate better if you had someone from the outside bring you food, otherwise, it was good to catch a rat. 

In these United States as early as the original settlers in the 1600’s up until the early 1800s (1833) many cities and states operated what became known as debtors prisons. It wasn’t until 1983 that the Supreme Court ruled that incarcerating a person for their debt was unconstitutional under the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Prior to 1833 if you could not pay your debts you could end up in “the Clink.”

Today we don’t have debtors prisons as such but the legal system has its ways of making your life miserable. Instead of putting you in jail because you can’t or refuse to pay a debt, the court can find you in contempt of court when it orders you to pay and you don’t. So you don’t get jailed for failure to pay, you get jailed for disregarding a court order. If you ask me it’s the same thing, but then no one asks me.

So let’s say you owe a bill, it gets turned over to bill collectors, they send a letter informing you that you need to appear in court to settle the matter. You never get the letter. You don’t appear so the Court then issues a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear. Bingo you’re in the Clink for not paying your debt and so much for your rights under the 14th amendment.

One thing that is true about all prisons, whether its solitary in supermax or one of those white-collar resorts the rich and famous seem to get sentenced to, one thing is the same. You lose your freedom.

Did you realize that every human being enters into this world in the clink? 

2 Corinthians 4:4 (NCV)
The devil who rules this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe.

“All through the Bible, the writers are conscious that in this world there is a power of evil. Sometimes that power is called Satan, sometimes the Devil. Three times John makes Jesus speak of the prince of this world and of his defeat. (Jn 12:31, Jn 14:30, Jn 16:11). Paul in Eph 2:2 speaks of the prince of the power of the air, and here in 2 Corinthians, he reveals that the devil rules this world. Even in the Lord's Prayer, there is a reference to this malign power, for it is most probable that the correct translation of Matt 6:13 is "Deliver us from the Evil One." Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

I have been taught that the devil took ownership of the planet when Adam and Eve sinned against God, thinking that equality with God was something they could grasp they disobeyed and in their attempt to be co-equal with God destroyed the inherent righteousness of everything and everyone. Now I have not done near enough theological research to say with any certainty that this original sin created a transfer of title of not, from humanity to the demonic. So take such an idea as folk wisdom for now. Jesus did not correct the devil in Matthew 4:8 when all the world was offered to Him.

Matthew 4:8-9 (MSG)
For the third test, the Devil took him on the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth's kingdoms, how glorious they all were. 9 Then he said, "They're yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they're yours."

The idea here is that the devil could not give away something that was not his.

Let’s jump back to 2 Corinthians 4:4. The mind of those who do not believe, which would include everyone, are blinded. I suggest to you that our eyes before they are lite with the light of Christ are blinded to the fact that this world, this world broken by sin, is really a debtor’s prison. Those who do not believe are in the Clink and don’t even know it.

“In the world” the phrase means “the debtor’s prison” not the earth, not the planet. The scripture describes what life is like when you live in the world.

You don’t realize how important you really are: how significant you really are: how much you are worth. Romans 1: 21 reveals in the world we trivialize ourselves.

In doing so we become confused and think we know what’s best, how best to live our lives. How has that turned out for us, being our own authority, being our own judge of morality? How has it turned out for you?

Romans 1:29-31 (MSG)
And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded.

Run into anyone that can be described in that litany of life in debtor’s prison? I have certainly seen myself in those words. Blinded to the truth, to reality, all this is just normal, the way things are in this world. We don’t even recognize the prison walls.

The Bible gives us even more ugly detail:
“sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy” (Col 3:5 (MSG);
“bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk” (Col 3:8 (MSG);
“cutting, backbiting, profane talk” (Eph 4:31 (MSG);
“devouring one another, destroying each other” (Gal 5:15 (NIV);
“They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion” (Eph 4:19 (MSG).

Not a pretty picture at all. It’s ugly; it is not how God intended. This is what life is like living in the debtor’s prison. The devil blinds a person’s perception, oh, we may sense something is wrong, but we are not sure what and have no notion of why, this is just how it is when you do what you want, when you want, with or to whom you want, regardless of the consequences.

Galatians 5:19-21 & 26 (NIV)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like… conceited, provoking and envying each other.

You most likely don’t expect such behavior from yourself, but certainly, you can see it or unfortunately experienced from someone else.

Then the worst is saved for last:

Revelation 20:12-15 (NCV)
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and the book of life was opened. The dead were judged by what they had done, which was written in the books. … Each person was judged by what he had done. … The lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Sadly, those with blinded eyes never even see it coming.

The biggest clue of this horrible ending is the realization of broken relationships in your life. If there are relationships in your life that once were good, but then went bad, the cause of that is sin. Sin is the fire in which we burn.  Sin is the normal background of living in the world, sin is the regular everyday sights, sounds smells and tastes of debtor’s prison; always the result of blinded eyes courtesy of the devil.

Time for some good news: Jesus said,
God's Spirit is on me; he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!"
Luke 4:18-19 (MSG)

Pardon for those in debtor’s prison, sight restored to the blind. This scripture reveals has already been done for you. God has acted. He has acted decisively in the incarnation, life, atoning death and resurrection as revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. The cell to your prison has been unlocked. 

1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) & Galatians 3:13 (TLB)
[Jesus] personally carried our sins in his body on the cross…Christ has bought us out from under the doom of that impossible system by taking the curse for our wrongdoing upon Himself.

This has been done for you.

We used to sing a hymn in the church. The refrain, or chorus, of which reads:
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

I haven’t heard that hymn in a long time. There’s a new version. Want to sing it?

The sin debt you owed that resulted in your incarceration in debtor’s prison has been paid in full. Right now the cell door is unlocked. God the Holy Spirit invites you to exit.

It is now up to you to ask Jesus to open your eyes, your spiritual eyes so that you can see how to live your life to the full, the kind of life God has always intended for you to live. You have a choice, you can remain in debtor’s prison, or you can choose to become a disciple of Jesus. Some have said it’s just exchanging slave masters. I think that’s well said, but do you want to be a slave to the Devil or a slave to Jesus? Do you want to stay in debtor’s prison or live free?

That’s too easy a question to answer. Let me put it this way: Today you can choose to continue doing what you want when you want to with and to whom you want with or without regard for the consequences or you can deny yourself, surrender the right to do what you want, bend the knee to Jesus and follow his commands and decrees as his disciple. Enter fully into a life dedicated to living for others.

Here’s what I think will happen if you choose to do your own thing. I had a financial debt that was a real struggle, so I put it on my charge card, figuring I would pay it off over time. Well, that plan quickly fell apart and I needed a bailout. The bill was paid in full. But guess what, I went and did it again, I put bills on credit and now it’s a struggle to pay them off as I also pay off the bailout loan. That is exactly what happens when having been set free you choose to do what you’ve always done, you either never leave the prison or you wind up back in the prison. A word to the wise: Let Jesus open your eyes, follow his way, and you will stay debt-free.

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