We must be careful when we talk about the ransom to be paid, or the debit owed, because we must be absolutely clear as to whom that ransom was paid to. Through the history of the church, some have argued that Jesus’ death was a ransom paid to the Devil for sin, to redeem his people from the clutches of the enemy. Loved ones, this theology is wrong, for God owes no one, especially not the devil, anything at all. Scripture tells us that God chose the elect even before he began creating, which means that he chose the elect before there was sin in the world and before there was any need for a ransom.
Yet, there is a debit that is owed, and that is a debit that we owe to God. In ancient days, when countries were at war with each other, if one country was loosing badly and wanted to bring an end to the warfare, they would sue for peace. They would pay a large sum of money to the other nation, and the war would be considered over.
In a way, that is the same with us. We, in our sin, have been rebels against God for hundreds of generations. Our sin is an affront to a Holy and Righteous God, and there is a just penalty—a price—that is owed to God as a result. The promise is that no matter what we do, and no matter how good we are, we can never hope to repay that debit. Not even someone like Mother Theresa or William Carey could do it. Yet, Jesus chose to do it on behalf of those who put their faith in him as Lord and Savior—the elect. And, oh how grateful we should be!
John tells us that Jesus is the propitiation for our sin (1 John 2:2). Propitiation is different from atonement. Atonement is the making of peace between two parties. Propitiation is the act that brings atonement. We stand convicted and guilty of sin. Jesus acknowledges that and he acknowledges the price we owe as a result. And Jesus paid the price, beloved; he paid it all.
For nothing good have I
whereby your grace to claim—
I’ll wash my garments white
in the blood of Calvary’s Lamb.
Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe;
sin had left a crimson stain,
he washed me white as snow.