Nailed to His Cross!
THE HANDWRITING OF ORDINANCES
a. Strong’s: a note of hand or writing in which one acknowledges that money has been lent, and is to be returned at the appointed time.
b. New American Standard Dictionary: a certificate of debt
c. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: A document, a note of indebtedness, is written in one’s own hand as a proof of obligation.
d. It is the equivalent of an IOU… a certificate that proves a debt.
e. It was called “handwriting” because the debtor was usually required to sign it.
f. Col. 2:14 is the only time this term appears in the New Testament, but the concept appears elsewhere in the New Testament.
g. Philemon 1:18-19 – “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account. I Paul have written it with my own hand; I will repay it.” (Different term; same concept.)
2. Ordinances: (Gr: dogma)
a. The ordinances speak of the commands and requirements of the Law of Moses;
b. The ordinances also suggest severity and judgment when ignored.
c. The term is only used a few times in the New Testament.
• Used 2 X of the decrees of Caesar.
• Used 2 X of the ordinances of the Mosaic Law
3. The handwriting of ordinances:
a. This speaks of the certificate of debt we owe because we have broken God’s laws…
b. The Jews spoke of sin as a debt; it is a debt of sin we owe. (Forgive us our debts…)
c. Eph. 2:15 – here the term ordinances appears in a similar context.
• In this verse, the ordinances obviously refer to the Law of Moses… which is contained in ordinances.
• The Law of Moses was a middle wall of partition that kept Jews and Gentiles separate.
• It is called “the Law of commandments contained in ordinances.”
4. Whose handwriting was it? Who signed this document… this certificate of debt?
a. It is possible that Paul had the 10 commandments in mind here: written with the very hand of God.
• The 10 commandments stood as representative of the whole law.
• Some see this handwriting of ordinances as that of God who wrote the 10 commandments with His own hand.
b. Ex. 24:7-8 – In a figurative sense, the Jews also SIGNED the handwriting of ordinances in front of Moses and the Lord.
• They did so by collectively saying AMEN to it…
• And God sealed the covenant by the sprinkling of blood, indicating that the penalty for NOT keeping the law was death.
• God wrote out a bill of indebtedness. Israel signed it –promising to pay the bill.
c. It is not necessary to assign a specific name to the handwriting… for both God and man have (in a figurative sense) signed this document of debt… this promissory note.
B. The Handwriting of Ordinances Were Against Us
1. Us = Paul and other Jews as well as the Gentile Colossian believers.
a. The law was never given to the Gentiles, but it WAS against us as Gentiles.
b. The Jewish law alienated all Gentiles and left us as strangers from the covenants of God, without hope and without God in the world. It was like a middle wall of partition that separated Gentiles from Jews and all of their blessings and promises.
c. The Law revealed God’s moral standards and ALL men fall short of the glory of God—not just the Jews.
d. The work of the law was written in their hearts. They were against us too. (Rom. 2:14-16)
• Those whose sins are forgiven and are related to God through the New Covenant have the LAW of God written in their hearts—the moral principles of God.
• This passage refers to unsaved Gentiles. They do not have the LAW written in their hearts as part of the New Covenant relationship, but they DO have the WORK of the law written in their heart.
• There is a difference between the law itself and the WORK of the law.
• The work of the law is something that all unsaved Gentiles have written in the heart… worldwide.
• In context, Paul is speaking about a moral consciousness that all men possess. It is part of human nature… even fallen human nature possesses the capacity to sense right and wrong… good and evil.
• This is proven in that every nation has a set of laws forbidding stealing, murder, etc.
• Vs. 14-15 – Paul proves his point again by noting that the consciences of unsaved Gentiles often condemn their own actions… proving that they had the capacity to discern right from wrong.
• This is the work of the law: to condemn actions that are contrary to God’s holiness.
• Man’s conscience is his capacity to condemn his own thoughts, words, deeds, and motives.
• Even though the lost may not have a copy of the law, the WORK of the law (to condemn sin) operates in their hearts and they are thus accountable… without excuse.
• Thus, the handwriting of ordinances which are against US—are against ALL men—Jew and Gentile.
2. The Law is AGAINST us all! It is against all of mankind.
a. The law demanded our death. Death is the ultimate enemy.
b. Rom. 3:19 – all the world is guilty before the law.
c. Rom. 4:15 – the law works wrath
d. Rom. 5:20 – the law entered that the offence might abound.
e. II Cor. 3:7, 9 – the law is called the ministration of death… and of condemnation.
f. I Cor. 15:56 – the strength of sin is the law.
g. It was against us because it made demands which we could never meet.
h. Jas. 2:10 – For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
i. It was against us because we BROKE it at every point.
j. It was against us because it was a debt we could never pay!
k. It was against us because it places every sinner under its curse. (Gal. 3:10)
l. This handwriting against us was like the handwriting on the wall that was against Belshazzar: your days are numbered; you stand condemned!
m. The law was against us because it convicts us of our sins, and thus removes our peace, joy, comfort, peace of mind, and replaces them with anxiety, fear, shame, guilt, and the burden of sin.
n. Truly the law IS against us.
C. They Were contrary to us
1. Contrary defined: Strong’s: Opposed to, contrary to, an adversary.
2. It is not that God wrote the Law to be intentionally AGAINST us.
a. It IS a hostile adversary to us, but that does not mean that the law itself is opposed to our good.
b. It is not an open, overt, designed hostility.
c. There is nothing contrary to mankind in the law itself.
d. The law itself is holy, just, and good. It is a reflection of who God is: His moral character. (Rom. 7:12)
e. The problem lies in our flesh. Our flesh is contrary to the Law. Our flesh is not holy, just, and good.
f. Hence, there is antagonism between fallen flesh and the holy law of God.
g. The role of the law as our adversary is not blatant, but latent in the nature of the law itself as a reflection of God’s infinitely holy character—a Standard we could never keep… which spells our doom… and hence, an adversary.
h. It is contrary to us in that it is a constant reminder of our sinfulness and of how far short we fall of the glory of God. It is against us because it constantly hounds us with a guilty conscience… and with threats of judgment.
HE TOOK IT OUT OF THE WAY, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS
A. The Law is Blotted Out
1. Blotted out:
a. Wuest: to wipe off, wipe away, to obliterate, erase.
b. In ancient times, records were often kept on parchments, and the ink could be washed off. This is the word picture Paul paints for us.
2. The blotting out of the law is a further description of the “forgiveness” mentioned in vs. 13.
a. HOW could a just God forgive the debt of sin for guilty sinners? Did He violate His standard of justice or righteousness? No! Instead He paid the debt Himself!
b. Justice was perfectly upheld at the cross.
c. In order to raise us up with Christ and quicken us together with Him, it was necessary for our sins to be forgiven.
d. In order for our sins to be forgiven, it was necessary for the demands of the law to be met… and they were at Calvary.
3. Eph. 2:15 – The Law is referred to here as the enmity in that it created enmity between Jew AND Gentile.
a. It was AGAINST US: it created enmity between Jew/Gentiles AND God, whose laws we have all broken
b. This law and its enmity were ABOLISHED at the cross:
• Abolish = to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative. 1a to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency; 1bto deprive of force, influence, power; 2to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish.
• Like an unplugged lamp, the law was unplugged and lost its power at Calvary.
• It was blotted out—it was deprived of all power against us… because the debt was paid in full.
• Thus, the law, which was against us and contrary to us, has been deprived of its former force and influence.
• It has been abolished… done away… put to an end… its purpose has already been served, and thus it is now rendered inoperative…
• The blood of Christ put an end to the Law…
4. This is NOT like brushing sin under the rug or ignoring justice.
a. God was able to blot out the law that was against us because the righteous demands of the Law against were met… paid in full… Jesus paid it all!
b. Our debt of sin was blotted out because the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was SUFFICIENT!
c. He is ALL WE NEED!
d. At the cross, our sins have been crossed out… the debt has been paid in full… once and for all and forever.
e. At the cross, the debt of sin was crossed out for the whole world…
f. YOUR sins were paid for in full… but the benefits of Christ’s work are only appropriated or received by faith.
5. Blotted out implies that there is no record of our guilt any more. Our sins and iniquities He will remember no more! All has been expunged forever.
a. The law as a handwriting against us was like a written record of our debt.
b. The obligation of the debt is still in force as long as the handwriting exists… the bill of our debt.
c. But when the record of our debt is blotted out, the debtor is set free!
d. You might liken this to a mortgage burning ceremony! Once it is paid in full, the legal document is worthless. There IS no more debt!
e. The fact that God remembers our guilt no more is the reason we are able to experience REST… because our conscience has been purged… set at ease… at rest.
f. When God blots out our sin, there is not even a trace of it left. It is GONE!
• Note here that God not only blotted out our debt, He blotted out the document on which that debt was recorded! Not even a trace!
B. The Law is Taken Out of the Way
1. It is taken out of the way: airo – to lift up or to carry away
a. Perfect active indicative: Christ took our condemnation away at the cross… and it REMAINS taken away! It isn’t coming back for the one who believes God.
b. The perfect tense emphasizes the permanence of the removal of the guilt and condemnation of sin… the permanent effects of the sacrifice of Christ.
c. That which was against us as our condemner has been permanently taken away!
d. Old Testament sacrifices could only cover sin up. They could NEVER take away sins. They merely postponed the payment another 12 months… until the next year’s Day of Atonement.
e. Jesus accomplished what the Law could never do. He FINISHED the job by paying the debt of sin in full!
f. This term is used in John 1:20 – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. HE IS ALL WE NEED!
g. Sin is removed as far as the east is from the west: infinity!
2. The Law’s curse was blotted out… and our curse taken away.
a. It literally reads, “taken out of the midst.”
b. It is no longer hanging over our heads… in the forefront of our thinking… like a shoe ready to drop.
c. It has been paid in full. The debt is no longer to fill our minds and hearts with shame and guilt. Our minds and hearts are now to be filled with the Savior!
d. Guilt and shame and fear of judgment no longer need to be in the MIDST. Now the joy of our salvation can be in the midst of our thinking.
3. But the Law was also taken away as a rule of life.
a. Israel was required to live under the Law and to submit to all of its ordinances: ceremonial, moral, and civil.
b. These laws (605 in total!) became a yoke that the Jews were not able to bear.
c. This yoke was taken away. Law is no longer the rule of life for believers in this age.
d. We are not under law but under grace—as a rule of life… as a guiding principle.
e. Heb. 8:13 – the entire old covenant system was dying and ready to perish 2000 years ago. The cross of Calvary made it obsolete.
4. Paul uses these truths to encourage the believers AND to expose the error of the false teachers.
a. The false teachers had been re-introducing Jewish rituals to the churches…
b. But Paul lets the Colossian believers (and us!) know that once a man has received forgiveness of sins (removed as far as the east is from the west), what possible help could the law offer?
c. The law CANNOT provide forgiveness. Its sacrifices and ceremonies never took away even one sin.
d. For centuries Israel kept those laws because God said to… but they were only shadows and never took away sin and never gave the conscience rest.
e. After Christ died and rose again and SETTED FOREVER the sin question, what purpose would there be in turning back to the law for help?
f. The cross has rendered the law obsolete… defunct…
g. WHY would anyone return to a symbol or shadow of Christ when Christ Himself dwells in our hearts by faith?
h. Christ’s death and resurrection introduced a more perfect way, and rendered the observance of the Law’s ordinances and sacrifices no longer necessary, since that which they were designed to foreshadow had been fulfilled, completed, finished, finalized, and accomplished in a far better way.
• To run and work the law commands, yet gives me neither feet nor hands.
But better news the gospel brings; it bids me fly and gives me wings.
• What we have in Christ is far better!
5. Acts 15:10 – why TEMPT ye God?
a. The Judaizers were attempting to put the believers back under the yoke of the Law, just as the false teachers in Colossae were trying to do.
b. The argument goes this way:
• God has already accepted them on the basis of faith.
• They are already saved, justified, and forgiven.
• Putting believers back under the yoke of the Law was tantamount to provoking God to anger… because God said they were forgiven on the basis of what His Son accomplished on the cross.
• By imposing additional rules and laws, the false teachers were saying, “What Jesus did was not good enough. You need something MORE.”
• Paul’s response: Oh no. We are forgiven! We are complete in Him. He is all we need!
• There are only two options:
» Either we live according to the Spirit of LIFE in Christ Jesus which sets us FREE from the LAW of sin and death…
» OR we return to the law… as a yoke… a symbol of our former slavery to our old nature… for the Law makes demands, but provides no power to obey.
» These are two very different systems (law/grace). There can be NO MIXTURE either as a means of salvation or a rule of life.
C. The Law is Nailed to the Cross
1. It was the custom in Rome when one was crucified to post the charges against him and nail them to the cross.
a. On the cross of Christ was His charge: His claim to be the Son of God… and the King of Israel.
b. That was the charge leveled against Him and for which he was killed.
c. Matt. 27:37 – That accusation was nailed to His cross—so that all who passed by could see how Rome deals with those who commit such crimes… execution by crucifixion.
2. Christ did not go to the cross alone.
a. Christ was nailed to the cross.
b. Our old man was crucified with Him.
c. Our sins was nailed to the cross. (I Pet. 2:24)
d. The Law was also nailed to the cross.
3. Our curse has been nailed to the cross.
a. That which condemned us to the cross has itself been nailed to the cross.
b. That which is nailed to the cross has no more power over us.
c. Gal. 3:13 – it was removed because Christ became a curse FOR us…
d. Who would want to bring it back? It was a ministration of death, condemnation, it worked wrath, it made all the world guilty…
e. God nailed it to the cross. Praise God! Let’s keep it there. It only spells our doom. Why go back as the Gnostic like cult was encouraging the Colossians to do?
4. The certificate of our debt was nailed to the cross.
a. Jamison, Faucet, and Brown: One ancient mode of canceling bonds was by striking a nail through the writing: this seems at that time to have existed in Asia [Grotius].
b. This is similar to punching a hole in a ticket to cancel it.
c. The law no longer hangs over us like an unpaid debt… as an unfulfilled obligation.
d. This debt was cancelled and was nailed to the cross!
e. It feels good to be debt free… especially when it comes to our debt of sin… a debt we were unable to pay.
f. Think of the worst, the most vicious, the most ungodly thing you have ever said or done.
g. Its penalty, guilt, and shame have all been nailed to the cross!
h. My sin O the bliss of this glorious thought; my sin not in part but the whole; is nailed to His cross and I bear it no more; praise the Lord; praise the Lord; O my soul!
Read Col. 2:14:
Those who have received Christ as Savior:
Our sins have been forgiven. The debt of sin has been paid in full. That which was against us has been nailed to the cross, and thus now there is nothing against us… and God is for us. We have been forever accepted in the Beloved. We are complete in Christ. What a wonderful salvation!
WHY would anyone ever want to go back to a legal system of works which could never take away sins… can never remove condemnation… can never make us accepted in God’s sight… or could never bring us to completion!
Trying to EARN one’s salvation… or trying to ADD to the work of Christ on the cross by adding our good works is UNBELIEF.
· Good works we attempt to do to help pay for our sins do not ADD to the work of Christ. It DESTROYS it.
· When we seek to earn or maintain a relationship to God through ritual and ceremony that is UNBELIEF.
· It is tantamount to saying that what Christ did was good and necessary but it was NOT ENOUGH… I need to add my two cents.
· There is no way our works could pay the debt of sin. How MANY finite works does it take to fill an infinite gap?
· You can try till you die—and you will end up in Hell.
· God is not asking men to DO something to help pay the penalty of our sins. He is commanding us to BELIEVE that what Christ did on the cross was SUFFICIENT!
· Any attempt to add it is unbelief… it is like telling God that the sacrifice of Christ wasn’t good enough… the work is NOT finished… when God said it IS finished!
· Lots of religious folks believe that what Jesus did was necessary… but God demands that we believe that it was ENOUGH… and that we in faith REST upon His finished work!
· On that basis God gives LIFE and salvation to all who believe… to all who will REST their eternal destiny on the rock-solid foundation of Christ’s finished work on the cross.
Christ is all we need!
· We seek nothing else or no one else.
· We REST on His finished work.
· We abide in His fellowship and the Holy Spirit produces His fruit – Christlike character through us…
· THIS is the Christianity Paul espouses…
· Not the phony brand promoted by the false teachers in Colossae… which was dependent upon special days; rituals; and ascetic practices.
Have YOU received Christ as your Savior? The work has been finished for 2000 years… He offers forgiveness; eternal life… but today the Savior waits for you to come to Him in faith. Christ paid the debt of your sins. They are nailed to the cross. Paid in full… but it benefits you NOTHING unless you receive Christ personally – by faith.
· Your sins, guilt, and condemnation have been nailed to the cross. Jesus paid it all.
· But you must receive God’s gift of salvation by faith today!
· Nobody ever HAS to go to Hell. Christ died for the sins of the whole world and nailed the condemnation of sin to the cross.
· Men go to Hell for one reason: UNBELIEF!
· Men REFUSE to come to God in simple, childlike faith and admit that we are guilty, vile, sinners, worthy of condemnation… and then to reach out to God as a beggar seeking His grace and mercy… and in FAITH receive Christ as His ONE AND ONLY hope of salvation.
· It’s humbling to admit that our works are useless… like filthy rags compared to God’s holiness.
· It’s humbling to admit that are helpless and needy.
· But if you will swallow your pride, and come to Christ in faith—He will FORGIVE you all your sins… and give you eternal life –assurance of a place in heaven. COME today!