13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
(Colossians 2:13-15 NIV)
Our last two times together, we looked at verses 9 – 12, where Paul expressed our comprehensive salvation in Christ. In verses 13 – 14, Paul reminds us of our total forgiveness in Christ. In verse 15, Paul reminds us of our complete victory in Christ. Left to our own powers or abilities, we fall short on all three measures of salvation, forgiveness, and victory. In Christ, we have comprehensive, total, and complete salvation, forgiveness, and victory.
Notice that Paul says that we were dead in our sins. He did not say that we were sick, or that we were gravely ill, mostly dead, or even temporarily dead but were revived. He made it clear that we were dead, with no ability to respond, and no hope of revival on human terms. All the glory goes to God, who made us alive with Christ. Because of Christ’s death, burial, and bodily resurrection, our sins are forgiven and we have the hope of eternal life.
Notice that Paul said that Christ forgave us all our sins. Notice the all-inclusive term again – “all”. Not part of our sins, not the “big” sins, but “all”. In verse 14, Paul expresses this in terms of a legal court case. Paul says that there were charges against us, charges of legal indebtedness that we were clearly guilty of, with no rebuttal or excuse on our part. We were guilty as charged.
Paul says that because of Christ, our forgiveness is complete. This was not some weird situation where justice was not served because of a technicality, and the guilty party (each of us) because the judge threw out the case or the jury declared us “not guilty”. Paul says that Christ paid the debt that we owed, and the charges were dropped by the accuser. Case closed. Matter concluded. No more discussion.
So how did Christ do this? How did He take away our indebtedness? Paul says that Christ paid our debt on the cross, forgiving us for our past, present, and future sins. Our condemnation was nailed to the cross, and we are set free. The charges are dropped. Our record is clear.
Finally, Paul says that our victory is complete. Paul addresses those who claimed that the spirit world had to be satisfied for a person to go to heaven. If you remember our earlier discussions, there were heretics that were mixing Christianity with eastern mysticism and were claiming that God was too holy to be engaged with mankind, and therefore God had set up a series of spirits between God and mankind to intervene. In a single brush of the hand, Paul dismisses this argument like dust from the measuring scales.
Paul says that Christ has victory even over these spirits. Listen to Peter’s summary in a parallel account:
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves youalso—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear consciencetoward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
(1 Peter 3:18-22 NIV)
The focus here is on verse 19, where Peter says that during Jesus’ burial, He was alive in spirit and went and preached to the imprisoned spirits that He was victorious over them and that they were now fully subject to Him. In other words, He proclaimed victory over them and their domain of darkness.
In Christ, we have complete and total salvation, forgiveness, and victory over sin.
May we step into our completeness and live and love God, ourselves, and others accordingly.