In the last post we looked at the fact that we can be captured, kidnapped or hauled away by deceptive, hollow, human philosophy. These along with legalism, mysticism and asceticism will take away our freedom and put us in a bondage of: following rules, praying to spirits and angels, and harming our bodies.
In today’s post we will see that we also have:
Freedom from Sin and Death
11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,
12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:11-15
External Circumcision Vs. Internal Circumcision.
The Jews had a really hard time believing that the Gentiles didn’t have to be circumcised. The Jews, because they had for centuries lived a certain way, circumcision was a part of life, it’s what it meant to be a Jew, to believe that the Gentiles didn’t have to go through that ceremony was very hard for them to accept. So many of them wanted to continue to have the Gentile believers, if they were going to be Christians, be circumcised first.
Circumcision symbolized an external sign of a covenant between God and Israel, it showed the Jews that the Gentiles were different from them. They had a physical sign that showed that she was different than all the other nations in the world at that time. Even though the early church finally decided that the Gentiles didn’t have to become circumcised to become Christians there were obviously some people who were still trying to make Gentile believers be circumcised.
Galatians 6:15 “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”
Here Paul speaks to this idea that it’s not the external that matters but what happens in the heart. It was always that way. God had the Jews be circumcised externally but just because you were circumcised externally did not mean hat you were a true believer in the Messiah. God was always asking them to have their heart circumcised, to love Him, to obey Him, to serve Him. And Paul contrasts that here.
Paul said that is no good! Verse 11 “In Him you also were circumcised in the putting off of sinful nature not with the circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ. Having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God who raised Him from the dead.”
Circumcision in this passage represents the cutting away of our carnal nature and we see this in Jesus’ death on the cross. When He died He was cast out, He was cut away from God and all of human efforts ceased. No longer any reason to try by human effort because Jesus took care of it on the cross. He pictures that on the cross.
Then He goes into baptism and says baptism is the new outward symbol of our internal faith in Christ. That we have a new life in Christ that allows us to have that circumcision of the heart that’s always been there for us. It gives us that new heart that’s able, has the capacity to love God, to obey Him and to serve Him. We have that new circumcision of the heart that gives us the ability to love God.
The Legal Code Condemned Us.
The next set of contrasts in this passage was a legal code. Verse 14 “Having canceled the written code with its regulations that were against us and that stood opposed to us, He took it away and nailed it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities He made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross.” This third comparison we see was the Law of Moses, a legal code and it condemned us. But the contrast is that Christ doesn’t condemn us. He forgives us.
Most Christians tend to think of the law as bad. The law is Old Testament and grace is New Testament. But the law had a planned purpose by God that was good. In Galatians 3:24 it says, “The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” The Bible says that the purpose of the law was to tell us God has standards and lays them out very clearly. The law also tells us the penalty if you break one of those laws. And it also points out the impossibility of any one of us keeping that law perfectly. It shows us that we need a savior. The law had a purpose that God used that was very effective.
The thing about the law that caused the problem here is that the law did require perfection. Absolutely. The law says you must keep this law perfectly every day of your life or you will stand condemned. But I have a real hard time being perfect no matter how hard I try. So every one of us stand condemned by this law that requires perfection. None of us can live up to it. It was God’s standard, it’s the way it had to be, but we all stand condemned by it.
But the contrast is what Jesus did with that condemnation. What it says in verse 14 that He did is He canceled the written code that was over us. We deserved the condemnation. We are imperfect. We have broken God’s laws. So we stand condemned. He took that and He did something different with it. Verse 14 “When I was dead (and here’s another contrast) in the uncircumcision of my sinful nature He made me alive with Christ. He forgave all my sins having cancelled the written code with its regulations that was against us and stood opposed to us. He took it away by nailing it to the cross.”
Sin is no longer an issue in my relationship with Jesus Christ because He took the code that was against me, took the condemnation on Himself so I am no longer condemned. That is news that I have to remind myself every day of my life. Because I am so aware of my sin. I am so aware of my inadequacies, my failures, of the areas that I struggle with. I struggle and struggle and I still blow it and I make these vows to God that this will never happen again and yet it does. I’m so aware every day about how far I fall short of that code. What I have to remind myself is that in Jesus Christ there is no condemnation. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation.” It doesn’t say a little pinch of it is still there. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
In that time it was the custom when someone was executed, when they were crucified to write on the placard what the person had done wrong. Then they would take that placard and put it above the person on the cross, nail it above their head, so that everybody who walked by could see what this person had done and Rome was punishing them. They could see the kind of punishment Rome took out on people who didn’t obey her laws. Pilate wrote on the placard that was above Jesus “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” He wrote that in three languages. What he was saying was “This man’s sin? Disloyalty to Caesar. He thinks he’s king.” Everybody who walked by could see, “This man claimed to be king instead of Caesar.” When God looked down do you really think that God was impressed by Pilate’s little sign, as if that’s the reason Jesus died? No. Pilate may have put a sign that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,” and think that’s why He died. But God saw instead a sign that read, “The Law, the broken Law.”
So when Jesus Christ died what God saw was the broken law that Jesus was dying for all of us to pay that penalty. By His dying, Jesus settled every claim against us. There are no more claims to be thrown at us. Jesus settled them by dying under that placard of broken law.
Because our sins was nailed to the cross there’s no more condemnation. The code has been cancelled. Why did He do it? Because He loved us.
Evil Authorities and Christ’s Triumph Over Them.
In verse 15 he says, “And having disarmed the powers He made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross.” Paul teaches frequently in his writing that there was an unseen world and it’s filled with spirits. Not dead spirits. I’m not teaching that people who die are now these spirits wandering around. The Bible doesn’t teach that at all. But the Bible does teach that when Satan fell from heaven a third of the angels fell with him that they are the ones who wander, they are the evil spirits and then there are God’s spirits – the angels – the good spirits that are angels and they are also in this unseen world.
Paul calls them authorities and powers and spiritual beings. Ephesians 6:12 “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.” They are there. The Bible makes it clear that spirits good and evil are around us whether we can see them or not. And they had power over us before we came to Christ. So here’s the contrast. Verse 15 “Christ has triumphed over them.” When it says that He disarmed them, that’s the word he stripped them. He stripped them of their power, He stripped them of their ability to hurt us any more, to have anything to do with us.
Evidently these evil spirits were gloating when Jesus died on the cross. I just know that Satan and all of his army of evil angels were gloating to think that they had won. But in the ultimate Jesus went to those spirits and proclaimed His victory, “You didn’t win! God won! I’m here! I’m back. You guys are history.” And the Bible says in Gen 3:15 “he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.” & Rev 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, Colossians 2:15 says that He disarmed those powers and authorities and He took captive. He did a parade in the unseen world of all those evil spirits dragging them through the streets saying, “I won! Forget it guys! I won! You didn’t win.” The Bible says He disarmed them. He made sport of them. He made fun of them. They have no power over us anymore. Jesus has triumphed!
Because of Christ, we have freedom from sin and death.
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