What was Nailed to the Cross?

Sermon by Ulrike Unruh

Deliverance? What does that word mean to you? What would the word deliverance mean to a group of men trapped in a mining shaft with the air supply rapidly dwindling. What would the word deliverance mean to a group of people held hostage in a foreign country who knew they would face certain death if deliverance did not come?

Do we consider Christ's death and resurrection as the key to our deliverance? We who are held hostage in sinful world, trapped by sin?


Which brings us to the Chapter in the Bible I wish to carefully study with you this morning.
Colossians 2
This chapter is a grand chapter dealing with cross and the Passover of deliverance, yet it is probably one of the most controversial chapters in the Bible for Adventist. It has been used against us more times than not. It has been used to tell the world that Christ died, to deliver people from obedience to God's laws! To deliver them from the Sabbath which the Lord God blessed and hallowed and asked us to remember! Is this really what it is all about? You know, the more I read that chapter the more I'm convinced it has a very important message for these last days. It is definitely a passage of deliverance-- but it is the message of the true Passover, for Christ is our Passover, Paul says. We have here the message of deliverance from sin. Colossians neither does away with the God's ten commandment law, nor does it belittle the Passover as "being that which was against us".

Anyway, let us commence with our Bible study.
Please open your Bibles to Colossians 2 an I would encourage you to leave it open at this chapter as we will be referring to it throughout the remainder of this study.

What was nailed to the cross? Let's read it in Colossians 2:13-15

"When you were dead in your sins" What were we?
Dead in our sins! What does that mean? That means we were enslaved in our sins, we couldn't rise out of those sins. We were dead in sins— We needed deliverance! Right!

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature"

Oh, it's getting worse, not only were we dead and needed deliverance from sin, but our very natures were against any hope of deliverance from this slavery of sin.
So, se were dead in our sins and in the uncircumcision of our sinful nature, BUT GOD MADE YOU ALIVE WITH CHRIST."

Wow! The story of Ezekiel's dry bones all over again. We were nothing but a bunch of dry bones— DEAD in sins with no hope, but God — how wonderful those words (they appear many times in Paul's writings,-- Things appear to be totally hopeless "BUT GOD" changes the whole picture-- In Ezekiel those dry bones came to life when the Spirit of God came upon them. And here we read that God makes us alive with Christ!

How does He do that? How does He give us life and deliver us from death?
Paul's next words tell us!
"He forgave us all our sins"
What was that again?
How did He deliver us from death and bring us to life?
Say it with me— "He forgave us all our sins." Wonderful is the promise of forgiveness!

And how was He able to forgive us our sins?
Let's read the next sentence: and I'm going to go to the Greek to be sure of my words here--

"He forgave us all our sins; having canceled the written record with it's legal demands which stood against us."
Was that a little different from your Bible? Probably, depending on which version you have. Let's study this deeper, for we want to KNOW what this verse is saying!

"He forgave us all our sins having canceled, blotted out or "exaleipho" which means "smeared out", pardoned, canceled, the written record, or the "cheirographon", which means written record.

Now how did God forgive us our sins according to all this? By canceling a written record? What is that written record?

Recent studies of historical writings show that "Cheirographon" was used to show a "certificate of indebtedness". So we could read the verse to say: he canceled the written record of our debts.

Now it makes more sense...especially when we consider Jesus parable of the ungrateful man. You remember the story of the king who was going through his accounts and found one man who owed him a couple million dollars. The man was summoned to appear before the king and ordered to pay up. Of course he couldn't— he was dead, dead in debts! No hope at all to be free from those debts. BUT THE king forgave him all his debts by canceling the written record of those debts which stood against him!

Do you see the parallel here. The king forgave him all his debts by canceling the written record against him! What did the king cancel? He cancel the record that said the man owed those millions of dollars.

In the same why, Colossians tells us that God "Delivered us by Forgiving us all our sins, having canceled the written record, with it's regulations, (ordinances).... What are those regulations? The Greek word is "dogma" referring to legal decree or requirement. Well what legal demand would a person be under who owed a several million dollar debt? Would not the legal demand be that he repay his debt, complete with the regulations that if the person could not repay the debt that he'd be sent to prison and his family could be sold as slaves etc..

What regulations or legal decree is held against sinners? The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death. That is the legal decree— you sin— you will die! That is the wage for sin. But even before the cross there was the hope of deliverance. They could bring a lamb, symbolizing the promised Messiah, to die in their place. But now, the Lamb of God took upon Himself the legal penalty or regulation held against the sinner, so that the decree requiring the sinner's death is lifted from those whose sins are forgiven.

It is also true that now that CHRIST is our sacrifice, we no longer are bound by the sacrificial system. No more sacrifices and sacrificial rituals and cerimonies are necessary, FOR CHRIST IS our sacrifice.

How was it possible for God to forgive us our sins, canceling the record with it's legal decree against us? The verse continues, "He took it away by nailing it to the cross."

So what was nailed to the cross? What was it that was against us, what was it that opposed us, what was it that stood in the way of life for us?

In this study we have seen that it was the record of our sins which demanded our eternal death. It is Christ's blood that blots, or "smears" out the record of sin.

However, the answer that is usually given is that somehow these verses mean Christ nailed His ten commandment law to the cross. But how could they come to that conclusion?

The Bible tells us that — By the commandment law sin is defined (Romans 7:7)

So would Christ nail that which defines sin to the cross and tell us it no longer matters if we obey that law or no — did he "free us from sin" by destroying that which defines sin, thus negating the whole concept of sin. For without the law there is no sin, for sin is the transgression of the law. Is it God's law that was against us, opposing us? That's what many seem to believe and teach.

Yet Paul clearly says in Romans 6;1-2 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin (transgressing God's commandments law) that grace may abound? God forbid, How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein. Do we then make void the commandment law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.

So would Paul, in Colossians 2, support the popular interpretation that the "written document, the "cheirographon" that was against us and which was nailed to the cross are the commandments of God, and the Sabbath in particular?

We must ask ourselves, did God bring forgiveness to mankind by destroying that which points out sin, or by taking upon Himself our sins and paying the penalty in our behalf? The Bible makes this clear enough.

In 1 Cor. 15:3 "Christ died for OUR SINS according to the scriptures."

Peter adds; "Christ in his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes we were healed." (1 Peter 2:24)

That is the message of Colossians. All through the chapter Paul is talking about forgiveness of sins (2:13) of dying to those sins (2:12) of putting off the sinful nature through Christ (2:11) of being established in the faith. (2:7)

The verse in question says that He forgave us all our sins by canceling the written debt with it's legal demands which stood against us and nailed it to the cross.

Those legal demands required a death. Before Christ's death upon the cross, those demands required a lamb be brought in a cerimonial ritual and slain in the place of the sinner.

It is our sins which are against us. It was Christ Himself who was nailed to the cross as HE bore our sins. There is a written record in the heavenly books of all our sins which legally condemn us to eternal death. That is the record Christ nailed to the cross, thus enabling Him to freely forgive and faithfully forgive us our sins when we come to Him in confession.

And no, this does not change our concept of an investigative judgment. Remember the parable of the ungrateful man. The king forgave him all his debts by canceling the record that was against him, but what happened when the forgiven man met someone who owed him a few dollars? What happened when he showed that his nature was still totally unchanged by the grace of the king? Was there an investigation? What happened to the canceled debt?

God canceling the record of our sins is not designed to do away with human accountability on the day of judgment, but to provide the reassurance of the totality of God's forgiveness when we come to HIM with a sincere heart.

Having experienced the sweet evidence of forgiveness from all our sins, our hearts should be melted and broken, ready to surrender to God heart and soul. Sin appears in it's awful enslaving reality and we rejoice to be freed from it in order that we can serve God in righteousness.

So we see that it's not the law, which defines sin that was nailed to the cross. It was the record of sin. It was the decree of death for the sinner. It was Christ our substitute. Christ our sin bearer who was nailed to the cross in order that He might remove that record of sin, which stood against us, and bring us into complete harmony with the will of God.

Yes, in a sense we can say the cerimonial law was nailed to the cross, because each lamb slain, typified the taking upon itself the sins of the repentant sinner, and dying in his place. But now JESUS, the LAMB OF GOD, took upon HIMSELF our sins and died in our place. There is no more need for the cerimonial sacrificial system. Christ died once and for all.

But that is not the end of the chapter, we still have the controversial verse 16, which reads;
"Let no man judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon, celebration or a Sabbath day."

Before we delve any further, let's be sure we understand this first. Who is not to judge us?
Does it say don't let God judge you regarding.....?
Does it say that? Does it say that God will not judge?

No, it says let no one judge you. Meaning let no man judge you. Romans 14 brings this out even clearer. This is another chapter that is often used to try and show there is no judgment, but there again we see that we should not let MAN judge us concerning "doubtful disputations". But that we must all answer to God.
"For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ...so every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

Colossians itself, carries the same accountability to God, message. In Colossians 3:23 we read: "Whatsoever you do, do it heartily to the Lord, and not unto men, Knowing that you shall receive the reward of the inheritance from the Lord, for you serve the Lord. But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done."

Now back up a few verses to Col 2:8. What do we read there?
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after what?
What is it that Paul is warning us about?
Asking us to be aware of?
Philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of who? of men!
And after the principles of the world, and not after Christ.

Now lets jump down to Col 2:22
What is the question Paul asks here? Why are you subject to the commandments of God?
Is that what he asks? Is it? Or maybe it reads "Why are you subject to that old ten commandment law? Is that what he asks? NO!

No, He asks, "why are you subject to rules after the commandments of men and doctrines of men?"

Interesting isn't it. Consider too, what Jesus said in Matt 15:3,6,9 In vain they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of WHO (do you remember?)

"In vain they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men..Why do you set aside the commandments of God by your tradition...making of none effect the commandments of God by your tradition...In vain they worship me...."

Could this be talking about the commandments of men which rise in opposition to the commandments of God?

Now I want you to notice something unusual in Col. 2:16. Let no man judge you....WHICH ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME.
This is future tense.
Oh, I know some translations have put it into the past tense. But the original writing says it in FUTURE TENSE. Let no man judge you— these are a shadow of things to come.....

What is Paul talking about?
Well, first, the commotion over certain people urging upon others, certain man made rules. In these Colossian texts are not about whether or not we should obey God's commandments— the discussion is obviously about man made rules.
And this commotion which the Colossians are experiencing, is a shadow of things to come.

Now let's think about this:
Did a power arise that insisted on judging people according to man made festivals, sabbaths, and religious regulations as to when to eat and when not to eat, etc?

Did a power arise that caused People to forget that it is through Christ that their sins are nailed to the cross. Was Christ as the substance of salvation, the ONE mediating His blood in the heavenly sanctuary, hidden by an earthly system of sacrifice and forgiveness . Did a whole lot of man made regulations and man made rules and festivals and even a new man made Sabbath come in.

History shows that this did happen to the Christian Church. It is very interesting that the Papal system abolished that which the scriptures in the book of Hebrews says "remains" (the 7th day Sabbath) and established that which the scriptures in Hebrews says was abolished, "the ceremonial systems".

For centuries a religious power has re-established an earthly priest system and told the world they have the power to forgive sins, and determine who is worthy of heaven. For centuries they pretend to re-sacrifice Christ in a daily mass, claiming that they have the power to create the Creator and produce him as a bloodless victim to offer to God. They have pretended to have the power to absolve people from their sins or bar them from heaven. Then they sent out the inquisition and the papal armies to subdue all "heretics" who understood the truth, that sins can only be forgiven by Christ and that the only, once and for all sacrifice, was completed at the cross.

They have established feast days— a whole liturgy of feast days, many of these feast days (like Easter, and Christmas are based on the moon or the suns movements)These liturgical religious days are declare as holy days. They have established fast days, lent, and of course the counterfeit SABBATH-- Sunday.

No, Colossians does not do away with God's Sabbath! Colossians is a clear warning that people will try to implement counterfeit Sabbaths and will try to judge you if you do not keep that counterfeit Sabbath.

Paul warns us in verse 18 (the verse following Let no man judge you) now he warns Let no MAN cheat you out of your reward insisting on self-abasement (acts of penance) and worship of spirit beings (praying to saints and Mary) intruding into those things which he has not seen (taking over the prerogatives of Christ,) vainly puffed up (a proud system)

Read all of Colossians and you will find that the context actually says,

Let no one judge you...according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe and not according to Christ (2:8) He, Christ, disarmed the principalities and powers and triumphed over them. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. Let no one disqualify you insisting on self-abasement (acts of penance) and worship of spirit beings ( like praying to saints or Mary) ...Why submit to regulations that have an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-;abasement...but which all perish according to human precepts and doctrines for they are based on human commands and teachings.

What will perish? Does God's law perish? See (Col. 2:22) It is the rules based on human commands and teachings that will perish.

That's what this whole chapter is about. It focuses on Christ's redemptive act on Calvary. Yes, our sins can be completely and wholly forgiven— the record of them nailed to the cross as our sin Bearer bore them on His own body on that cruel tree. Forgiveness is complete!

But the controversy is not ended. Satan hates the cross, for it has sealed his doom. He can't blot out the cross. It is there. But there is one thing the enemy can do. He can paint that cross with his own colors and turn upon it his own deceptive floodlights. Do not be deceived. For Satan cares not how much we love the cross, as long as he can keep us deceived as to its purpose and its work. It does not grieve him a bit to hear us sing about the mercy and grace and pardon and liberty of Calvary if he can make us think that the cross is an excuse for disobedience to God and His law. The cross is a mighty argument for unswerving obedience but somehow Satan has managed to convince so many that Calvary has eliminated the necessity of obedience to God's law, that the multiplied pardon of Calvary will take care of multiplied neglect to follow Him today and tomorrow, that the liberty of Calvary is freedom from the law— liberty to sin instead of liberty from sin and liberty to live in righteousness in the abiding presence of Christ.

May none of us join the enemy in his work. How can we hold that nail scared hand, pierced for our transgressions, in one hand, and place our other hand in that of the enemy in defying God's law.

True your sins were nailed to the cross with Jesus. Wonderful, glorious thought! But your conscience was never nailed there! Your freedom to choose to walk with Christ or walk the dark paths of sin was not nailed there. If the law could be changed, God could have saved us without the sacrifice of Christ; but the fact that it was necessary for Christ to give His life for the fallen race proves that the law of God stands unchanged...The wages of sin is death. Jesus came to Calvary because there was no other way. He came because we were dead in sin, and because of sin, He came to raise us to newness of life, to walk with Him in paths of righteousness. Let there be nothing between you and your Savior. He is our deliverer to a new and glorious life.

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