And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses (Colossians 2:13 KJV)
You have negotiated a contract. All parties are happy with the terms. The check is written. You are given title. The deed is conveyed to your name. The deal is done. And the good news is that you are not in debt. You have free and clear title to the item you purchased. It is a good feeling. Paul continues to teach about our sufficiency in Christ to the church in Colossae. These members were worried about some of the works related faith being promoted by others. So the worry begins. It was needless worry.
We have been free from sin. We are no longer ruled by sin but are now ruled by the Savior. Think of a long term illness. When you are sick for a long time, the pain and symptoms rule your life. I believe this is why the ministry of healing was part of Jesus' work before He went to the cross. For many people, illnesses and impaired conditions ruled their lives. A man born blind is ruled by darkness. Jesus comes and heals the man. He is free from darkness. It is a complete healing. A man is deaf and dumb from birth. Jesus touches the man's ears and tongue and he speaks and hears. Completely. A woman comes to Jesus with a serious blood flow condition. It has kept her from worship. It has cost her a fortune. She cannot escape the torment and Jesus heals her completely. A man born with a withered arm is asked to stretch it and Jesus makes it completely whole.
God negotiated a new covenant with mankind. When Jesus cried out, "It is finished" on the cross, the deal was done. Because of that transaction is complete -
We Are Complete in Our Salvation.
We Are Complete in Our Forgiveness.
We Are Complete in Our Victory.
I. WE ARE COMPLETE IN OUR SALVATION.
In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)
Not By Works: The human tendency is to try to work our way into God's graces. Paul, interestingly enough, speaks of circumcision. Why? It was one of the biggest stumbling blocks for so many in the early days of the church. It is also a good example to teach from. In Paul's day the Jewish practice was to circumcise a baby boy on the eighth day after he was born per Leviticus 12:2-3. The Mosaic Code incorporated this practice that was given by God to Abraham in Genesis 17:10-14. This was a symbolic function: "...it shall be a token of the covenant..." The word token is translated as sign or signal or beacon. It points to a greater truth.
There were two views on circumcision among the Jews. Some took the view that when you circumcised a child, he was saved. He was automatically numbered among God's faithful. In their thinking, this work was all that was necessary. Yet Paul writes in Romans 9:6, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel..." In others words, not every circumcised Israelite was faithful to God for salvation. One example is Judas Iscariot. He was a circumcised Jew and Jesus called him the "Son of perdition" (Jn 17:12). And again we have in John 6:70 where Jesus said to His disciples, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
There is a similar error today. It is with baptism. There are some who will teach that one must be baptized in water to be saved. These are the groups that often include infant baptism in their faith practice. Why? A few reasons:
Certain reformed groups see baptism as the new sign that replaced circumcision. Because the church has replaced Israel, in their mind baptism is the new sign of the covenant. Infants must be baptized to be identified as part of the community of faith. This group does not make belief part of the equation but does demand evangelizing the child later in life.
The Orthodox groups see infant baptism as an act of faith on the parents' part. They view God's grace to be able to save the infant beyond human comprehension. They take the verse Hebrews 13:8 out of context: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Their logic: the infant Jesus saves the infant. The child Jesus saves the child. The adult Jesus saves the adult.
The Catholic groups see infant baptism as saving from original sin. This group seems to be in the middle between the Reformers and the orthodox.
As we will see in a moment, salvation is done ...
By The Work of God:
"...ircumcised with the circumcision made without hands... Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."
Salvation is the work of God. Let's remember that when God gives the command to circumcise as a token or a sign. It represented the work of God. Abraham's response was just faith. He carried out the sign, the symbol, of faith. In fact if you read Genesis, Abraham was justified by faith as recorded in Genesis 15:6. The command to circumcise comes years later when Isaac is born in Genesis 17. Paul uses imagery of circumcision to reveal an important truth. Let's look at circumcision again.
- First, it reveals. Flesh is cutaway and reveals a source of life. It is a witness of eternal life that links everyone here with Adam.
- Second, it reinforces a truth. Because Adam and Eve sinned, we are all sinners. Our sin is deeply rooted.
We cannot save ourselves. It is cut who circumcises our hearts. It is an action of faith. Paul switches to baptism. We are buried with Christ in that we identify ourselves as Christians. Again it is by faith. That faith begins at the moment of salvation and moves us forward in life until the end when we stand before God in Glory. We trust God to do it all for us.
@ Mark 16:16 - "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
@ Acts 2:38 - "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized..."
@ Acts 2:41 - "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized..."
@ Acts 19:5 - "When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
@ Romans 5:10 - "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
@ Romans 10:13 - "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
@ 1 Corinthians 1:18 - "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
Salvation is complete! It is not by works but by faith. This also means that...
II. WE ARE COMPLETE IN OUR FORGIVENESS.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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 (Colossians 2:13-14)
Completely Guilty. Paul's choice of words is significant. He first begins with "being dead in your sins..." which points to our actions. He does not use sin but sins. All the deeds a person does prove who he or she is: a sinner. I have heard people complain about how some of their co-workers and fellow students. They ask me, "Why do people do such things?" My answer is simple, "They do what they do because of what they are." This leads to Paul's second half of the equation, "...the uncircumcision of your flesh..." This was a term used by the Jews to describe Gentiles. Gentiles were people outside of God's promises and covenants. Paul applies this statement to describe the former nature of the members of Colossae before their conversion.
The nature of the unbeliever makes him or her completely unable to respond by human effort. They are described in Ephesians 2:12 as having no hope.
Completely God. Not the contrast between "you, being dead..." and "...hath He quickened together with him..." Here is our hope. God gives life. It is life we gain when we come to Christ. Paul describes the work of forgiveness by pointing to the cross. Note the amount forgiven there - ALL! It is a source of our joy, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Ps. 32:1).
We find throughout all the Old Testament a system of sacrifices designed to obtain forgiveness. When Moses wrote the Law there was the requirement for the person offering a sin offering to place his hand on the innocent animal. This action was designed to symbolically represent the transference of the guilt from the one making the offering to the innocent animal. The priest, as God's agent, would accept innocent animal now as the appropriate substitute. The Bible declares that "and without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22). That is God's remedy. Christ, the complete innocent, became our sin-bearer: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28).
That action made it complete. Paul notes that the written record of our sin and deeds - all the laws we broke - are wiped away. Note the words "Blotting out..." in the Greek is compared to the way one would erase ink. Imagine that! You break the law. You receive a citation. You go to court. Someone innocent pays your fine. The judge does something different. He takes your citation, moves a blotter over it, and the permanent ink is gone. It is as if the charge was never written. That is how complete your forgiveness is.
Let's look at one more image. The One who wrote the Law was nailed to the Cross. Think on that. Let it sink in and then realize...
III. WE ARE COMPLETE IN OUR VICTORY:
"And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:15).
Debt Cancelled. Our victory is complete because Jesus cancelled the debt. Think of this. Debt does has some power. It has the power to enslave. When you have a load of debt you are limited in what you can do. When Jesus was nailed to the cross and said, "It is finished," that was not a whimper of defeat. That was the cry of victory that shook Hell. The phrase "it is finished" is one Greek word that can be translated the debt is cancelled. The Devil always had power over the sinner by keeping us in fear of death. Death is a great unknown for those who do not know God.
If you do not believe in God it is hard to imagine life after death. A minimal belief in God permits some idea of life after death. But because of the question of evil in the world, man has to consider what life in the afterlife will be like. There is within us the truth about our nature that we do not want to admit...that we deserve hell. For some in a works based religion it must be maddening to try to keep a record of all our good deeds and our bad acts. This terrifying balancing act will keep a person in a frantic state of fear. And Satan loves that. But the Good News is that Jesus Christ has cancelled it all and thus has spoiled all the powers against us. He has robbed them of their victory.
Devil Disarmed. When you spoil an enemy, you have a defeated and disarmed foe. Hebrew 2:14 reads,
"Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil."
The coming of Son of God in the Person of Jesus of the Nazarene was a brilliant stroke of military genius by God. With a combination of mercy and grace, the sinner is saved and thus the Devil's destructive power is rendered useless. When you are born again, you have your name entered into the Lamb's book of life. This is what is promised to the believer and unbeliever per the Book of Revelation.
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years...And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:6, 14-15).
Devil's Defeat Displayed: "... he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." Paul uses language familiar with the typical Roman citizen. When a general came home from victory in battle, he would display the defeated kings and chieftains in chains. When we survey the blood stained cross and look into the empty tomb, we are convinced of our victory. These items are just two of the items which point to the devil's defeat. There is one more item that we tend to gloss over - the church.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).
"...we are..." I love those two words. We are conquerors through Jesus Christ. Sin no longer separates us from God's love. It is a done deal. It is the church that shall reign triumphant and ride with Him when He comes to establish a new Kingdom. It is a done deal!
We have complete salvation which provides complete forgiveness and thus we are granted complete victory. Though we are fighting a defeated foe, we should do so with the mindset that there are still pockets of resistance that we must face. The enemy still has strongholds of unsaved souls that we need to enter by God's grace and our obedience. This is our task until that day when He calls us up for the next great event. Until then, let us be more than conquerors! Let us lift up our faces and voices to Him as victors. Let us not fear the darts of the devil but trust the shield of faith to protect us as we move into the battle girded up with the breastplate of righteousness, bound by the belt of truth, carrying our sword the word of God and moving forward with our feet shod with the Good News!