Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | November 10, 2006

Colossians – Part 11

Are you good at remembering things? 

Colossians – Part 11:  Freedom and from Sin and Death 

1.  Do you think that everything you have ever done has been recorded somewhere?

2.  Do you think that everything you will ever do is already recorded somewhere?

Freedom Victoriously Purchased (Ch 2:13-15):  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. 

After describing the freedoms that are found with faith in Christ, the Apostle now indicates the price that was paid for that freedom.  An account of the unregenerate (unsaved) person is given and two metaphors are given to describe the state of such a person.  First, the unregenerate person is equated with being dead, which is not alive or a lifeless corpse.  This is a most helpless position that requires total dependence on another to be rescued from a totally helpless state.  Secondly, the unregenerate person is described as being uncircumcised in the flesh, the flesh being a reference to the fallen nature or inherent guilt.  In the Old Testament economy this would refer to those that were outside the camp of Israel.  However, as the Apostle stated previously those that are saved are circumcised (spiritually) by the Great High Priest, Christ.  Then those who are uncircumcised (spiritually) would be unsaved and fully enveloped in the fallen nature.  They are dead in transgressions, which would imply a multitude of violations against their Creator that alienate their relationship with Him. The unregenerate person, uncircumcised and dead in transgressions must be made alive in order to be saved.  The Apostle describes those in the Church, the saints as indicated earlier, as those made alive and forgiven of their sins.  This forgiveness was accomplished once and for all by the Savior, who took all the violations committed by His people upon Himself in their place.  The debt that was owed had to be fully identified if it was to be paid for at one time.  Thus, all the transgressions of all His people were foreknown and included in the transaction, otherwise it would be incomplete.  This debt consisting of violations against God’s law committed out of the obligation to the fallen nature was a sign of guilt.  This guilt stood opposed to freedom, yet was triumphantly removed from it’s bearers by the Savior just as the foreskin is removed during circumcision.  However, this victory did not only consist in the saving of a people it also had cosmic significance against rebellion in spiritually high places.   

The false apostle’s in Colossae had diminished the significance of the cross and the Savior by proclaiming that the payment for sin was not complete without man’s efforts.  By minimizing the effects of Calvary, they were teaching others to pay an account where the debt was already been paid.  The Apostle confronts the untruth of this teaching by explaining the real significance of the cross.  The cross was the greatest victory in all of history.  In that single event a people were liberated from the burden of sin and death, completely.  Furthermore, Christ not only liberated His people, He was triumphant over Satan and his rebellion.  The false apostle’s had blended Christianity with other religious beliefs that taught of a spiritual hierarchy of angels that had dominion over the creation, even Christ.  The Apostle here explains how this teaching is incompatible with Christianity, by ascribing Christ’s victory over all rulers and authorities.  Therefore, the freedoms espoused in the previous sections could be realized since they were victoriously purchased during the most significant event in redemptive history.                   

3.  How does Paul describe our pre-Christian condition?

4.  In what way did this apply to us?

5.  What capabilities do dead people have?  Is this the position we were before becoming Christians?

6. What significance does the label uncircumcised have?

And you, when ye were dead:  “If you understand it in its proper sense, the meaning will be, “Uncircumcision is the badge of alienation from God; for where the covenant of grace is not, there is pollution, and, consequently, curse and ruin.  But God has called you to himself from uncircumcision, and, therefore, from death.  In this way he would not represent uncircumcision as the cause of death, but as a token that they were estranged from God.  We know, however, that men cannot live otherwise than by cleaving to their God, who alone is their life.  Hence it follows, that all wicked persons, however they may seem to themselves to be in the highest degree lively and flourishing, are, nevertheless, spiritually dead…Taking it metaphorically, there would, indeed, be an allusion to natural uncircumcision, but at the same time Paul would here be speaking of the obstinacy of the human heart, in opposition to God, and of a nature that is defiled by corrupt affections.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossins 

7.  How does Paul describe us now? 

8.  Who made us alive? John 1:12-13

9.  Does the follow passage give a good analogy of what happened to us spiritually?  John 11:38-44

10.  Who gets the credit for bringing us to faith?  Ephesians 2:1-9

11.  Why was this important for the Colossians to know in light their view on physical things?

By forgiving you:  “God does not quicken us by the mere remission of sins, but he makes mention here of this particularly, because that free reconciliation with God, which overthrows the righteousness of works, is especially connected with the point in hand, where he treats of abrogated ceremonies, as he discourses of more at large in the Epistle to the Galatians.  For the false apostles, by establishing ceremonies, bound them with a halter, from which Christ has set them free.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

12.  Paul talks about a certificate of debt that stood against us, doesn’t this sound like a record of all our violations of God’s law? 

13.  Does this record provide enough evidence to convict and condemn us all?

14.  What happened to our record of violations that should condemn us?

15.  As a result, can we have assurance that we have been forgiven?

The atonement:  The cross is primitive and obscene, a blood sacrifice to satisfy the justice of a transcendent holy God, but that’s what sin is.  It is primary and basic to our human existence, that God’s way of redemption is not through some Gnostic elite philosophy that only a few learned scholars can understand, it’s the way God communicates His love, His mercy, & His redemption to us.  Through this primitive work, the cross is an obscenity because all of the corporate sin of us is wrapped up and compacted and compressed into one person as it is laid upon Him.  This is the ugliest most obscene thing in the history of the world.  RC Sproul 

Took it out of the way, fastening it to his cross:  “He shews the manner in which Christ has effaced the hand-writing; for as he fastened to the cross our curse, our sins, and also the punishment that was due to us, so he has also fastened to it that bondage of the law, and everything that tends to bind consciences.  For, on his being fastened to the cross, he took all things to himself, and even bound them upon him, that they might have no more power over us.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

16.  Paul goes on to say how that Christ’s work not only was to forgive our sins, but also a triumph over all rulers and authorities.  What are these powers he is referring too?

17.  When was Christ declared victorious?

18.  Is this the fulfillment of Gen 3:15?

19.  Does this passage further confirm that assumption? 1 John 3:8

20.  What hope does this give you?

Triumphing over them in it:  “For there is no tribunal so magnificent, no throne so stately, no show of triumph so distinguished, no chariot so elevated, as is the gibbet on which Christ has subdued death and the devil, the prince of death; nay more, has utterly trodden them under his feet.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

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