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    September 27, 1900

    “‘Debtor to Do the Whole Law’” The Present Truth 16, 39, pp. 612, 613.

    ATJ

    “FOR I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.” Galatians 5:3.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 612.1

    “Debtor to do the whole law.” It is curious that many, in considering this statement, have made it mark a distinction between two laws, and have made it exclude the law of God from the subject under consideration, by showing to the word “debtor” only the sense of “obligation.”PTUK September 27, 1900, page 612.2

    They know, by the scripture, that it is the whole duty of man to fear God and keep His commandments. They know that there cannot be any other scripture to contradict that. They know that every man is under obligation to keep the whole law of God, whether he is circumcised or uncircumcised. And, allowing that this term implies only obligation,—that if he is circumcised, he is under obligation to do the whole law,—they conclude that this must exclude the law of God: they conclude that it must be some law that no person is under any obligation to do unless he be circumcised; and that therefore the “whole law” here under consideration must be only the whole ceremonial law of sacrifices and offerings.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 612.3

    On the other hand, there are those who hold themselves under no obligation whatever to keep the law of God, who bring in this text to support them in their disobedience and opposition. They will have it that only those who are circumcised are under any obligation to keep the law of God, and that it was only by being circumcised that the obligation comes; and they know that they are not under any obligation to keep the ten commandments.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 612.4

    But both of these are wrong: both of them fail to see the thought that is in this verse. And the cause of this failure is in their allowing to the word “debtor” only the sense of “obligation.”PTUK September 27, 1900, page 612.5

    It is true that the word signifies “obligation.” But, in this place, and in every other place in its connection with men’s moral obligations, the word has a meaning so much broader and deeper than that of mere obligation, that the sense of mere obligation becomes really secondary.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 612.6

    A PENNILESS DEBTOR

    THE word “debtor” in this verse—Galatians 5:3—signifies not only that a person is in debt, and under obligation to pay; but that, beyond this, he is overwhelmingly in debt, with nothing at all wherewith to pay. If a man is debtor, and so under an obligation, to pay one thousand pounds, and yet has abundance or even only the ability to pay the one thousand pounds that is easy enough. But if a man is debtor, and so under obligation to pay millions of pounds, and has not a single penny wherewith to pay, and is in prison besides, and has no ability whatever to make a penny wherewith to pay his debt, to that man the word “debtor” signifies a great deal more than mere “obligation to pay.”PTUK September 27, 1900, page 612.7

    And that is precisely the case here. That is the thought in this verse. That is the meaning embodied here in the word “debtor.” This is because the word “debtor,” when used in connection with morale, implies, and can imply, only sin: that the man is a sinner.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.1

    This word “debtor” in Galatians 5:8 is precisely the word that is used in Luke 13:4,—“Those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?”—where the word “sinners” in the text, is “debtors” in the margin.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.2

    It is the word used in the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:12), “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;” and which, in Luke’s version of the prayer, plainly expresses the thought of sin, in the words: “Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” Luke 11:4.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.3

    It is the same word also that is used by the Saviour in Luke 7:41, 42: “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing [with which] to pay, he frankly forgave them both.”PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.4

    It is the same word also that is used in the parable in Matthew 18:23-35. Indeed, from the verse, Luke 13:4, where the word “sinners” is used in the text, and “debtors” in the margin, the reference is direct to this parable in Matthew 18. That is the parable in which it is said that when a certain king “had begun to reckon with his servants,” one was brought note him, which owed him ten thousand talents, nearly three million pounds—and he had nothing with which to pay. Then he for “forgave him the debt.” But when the servant found one of his fellow servant who owed him about three pounds, It would not forgive him the debt, but put him into prison until he should pay the small sum. Then the king called up his debtor,” and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that wt due unto him. So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Matthew 18:23-35.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.5

    That thought of delivering the debtor to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to his lord, belongs with the word; for “the use of the word involves the idea that the debtor is one that must expiate his guilt.”PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.6

    A BANKRUPT ASSUMING IMPOSSIBLE OBLIGATIONS

    FROM these scriptures the attentive reader can begin to see that in the words of Galatians 5:3,—“he is debtor to do the whole law,“—there is far more suggested than that he is merely under obligation to accept the claims of the law upon him, and do his best to meet them. All this shows that he is not only under obligation to recognise the binding claims of the law of God, but that he is actually debtor to render to that law all the claims that it has upon him. And in this it is further shown that, of himself, he must everlastingly be debtor: because he has absolutely nothing wherewith to pay, and of himself has no means of acquiring anything with which to pay.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.7

    And this indebtedness lies not only in his obligation to do the law from this time forward; it also lies in obligation to make satisfaction for all that is past,—for all the accumulations of the past, up to the present time.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.8

    Accordingly, of himself, every man is everlastingly a debtor in all that is implied in this thought in Galatians 5:3, and the kindred texts that we have here cited; because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And whosoever would be circumcised in order to be saved, and thus seek to be saved by works of self-righteousness, thereby takes upon himself the obligation to pay to the law of God his whole debt, from the beginning of his life unto the end of it. And in that, he also takes upon himself the obligation to expiate all the guilt attaching to his transgressions, and accumulated thereby.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.9

    That is what it is to be “debtor to do the whole law.” That is what is stated in the words: “I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.” He is not only debtor; but, by that transaction, he himself voluntarily assumes of himself to discharge all that is involved in his indebtedness.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.10

    Now it is true that every man in the world is of himself that kind of a debtor. It is also true that any man to-day who seeks justification by his own works, even in the doing of the ten commandments, or of anything else that the lord has commanded, does thereby assume, and bind himself to pay, all that is involved in the indebtedness. But he cannot pay. There is not with him the first element of any possibility, in himself, to pay any of the debt. He is overwhelmed and lost.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.11

    THE DEBT DISCHARGED BY A FREE GIFT

    BUT, thanks be to God, whosoever has the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, whosoever depends only on the Lord Jesus and that which Jesus has done, though he be of himself debtor just like any other man, yet, in Christ, he has wherewith abundantly to pay all the indebtedness. Christ has expiated, by punishment and satisfaction, all the guilt of every soul; and by the righteousness of God which He brings, Christ supplies abundance of righteousness to pay all the demands that the law may ever make in the life of him who believes in Jesus.PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.12

    Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Oh, believe it! Oh, receive it! Poor, overwhelmed, lost “debtor,” “buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed.” “Yea, come, buy ... without money and without price.”PTUK September 27, 1900, page 613.13

    A. T. JONES.

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