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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, April 04 2024

What was nailed to the cross?

Many believe Colossians 2:14 supports the view the law was abolished and nailed to the cross when Christ was crucified: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (King James Version).

However, Christ taught in Luke 16:17: "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail," and Romans 7:12 states: "... the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." But Colossians did say something was “blotted out”. What was it?

In order to understand this verse correctly, it is important to examine the context. Verse 13, the verse directly before this statement, says: "You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.” This verse makes it clear the context is about sin. It isn't about the holy, righteous, perfect law of God.

In Acts 3:19 the Apostle Peter mentions the same word, translated as ‘blotted out’ and was also talking about sin: "Repent therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Isaiah 43:25 records God as saying: "I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions…and will not remember your sins." Only sin was wiped out, not the law of God.

Through the sacrifice of Christ we can have our sins erased. God’s commandments don't bring death, sin does, as Romans 7:7 points out: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” The law reveals what sin is, and is a reflection of God and His holy, righteous character. It is our standard if we claim to be believers in Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death…." We have all sinned, and have a debt against us, but it can be erased. The record of our sins was nailed to the cross, not the law of God. Without some payment for our sin, we would face death with no hope beyond the grave. Christ cancels that record of our sins when we accept Christ as our Savior, repent and turn to God in faith and are baptized.

The Apostle Paul's words in Colossians 2:14 is a dramatic characterization of the benefit of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. God's holy law is still in force. We don't have a license to keep on sinning, as the Apostle Paul points out in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

Forgiveness is more than a pardon because the penalty for our spiritual crimes wasn't merely set aside, it was paid in full by Jesus' sacrificial death for us (1 John 1:7-9). Imagine the certified copy of an execution order with your name on it being hammered onto the beam on which Christ was crucified—right next to His body, splattered with His life's blood—to show that you do not have to die for your spiritual crimes. This is the striking illustration Paul presents in Colossians 2:14. Those who would have us believe this passage refers to the cancellation of God's law completely misrepresent Paul's powerful teaching analogy.