Think about opening an envelope and expecting a big bill you owe and instead you read, “Paid in Full”. How happy you would be! Listen to this lesson to learn about a much larger sin debt that Christ paid for you on the Cross. Find out that the sin debt has been cancelled and hear four categories of forgiveness including legal forgiveness for all mankind, application of that forgiveness at the moment you believe in Christ, and confession afterwards when you commit sins. Understand that sin is no longer the issue but that the focal point is believing that Christ paid for all your sins. Since He is capable of solving the sin problem, we can trust Him to solve all our problems in life.
Also includes Colossians 1:14.
The Accomplishments of Christ’s Death: Cancellation of Sin; Forgiveness
Colossians 2:12–14; Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 1:7
Matthew Lesson #192
March 18, 2018
“Father, we’re thankful for Your Word that illuminates our thinking, that on the basis of the light that it shines upon our souls and upon our minds we are able to accurately understand who You are, who we are; to understand Your creation, and all that we experience in life, for it is Your Word that gives us the tools to understand what is going on.
“Father, we pray that as we continue to study about our Lord’s death on the Cross, what was accomplished there, that You might open our minds to the profound accomplishments that were finished there, that laid the foundation for our salvation.
“Father, we pray that as we study these things that we will be humbled to realize how much You have done for us.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
We are continuing our study in Matthew. For those who are here visiting today, we have gone through the Gospel of Matthew verse by verse, and we have come to that period towards the end, which is really the largest section in Matthew, which focuses on the death of Christ.
We have gone through His agony in Gethsemane, the struggle there; we have gone through His arrest, we have gone through the six trials that He experienced. Then starting with the conclusion of those trials, we have been walking our way step-by-step through what will be approximately 33 different stages of the crucifixion: from the conclusion of the trial to the sealing of the tomb.
That will come pretty close to having Jesus’ rise from the dead on Easter Sunday; I don’t know if that will happen. It will be the first time I’ve had a series that actually landed on Christmas or Easter with the appropriate event, but we’re close.
I paused after the 25th stage to talk about what Jesus accomplished on the Cross—not by His physical death, but by His spiritual death. For some people that’s a new concept because often these are not distinguished, but spiritual death means separation from God.
When Adam and Eve were created, they had perfect fellowship, perfect harmony with God. The instant they sinned something happened. God had warned them that the instant you sin you will certainly die. They died. They didn’t die physically. That didn’t happen for over 900 years, but they died spiritually.
We know that because when God came, as was His daily habit, to walk with them in the Garden and they heard the sound of God in the Garden, the Scripture says they were afraid, and they ran and hid.
That had never happened before, so that’s a consequence of their disobedience. They are now spiritually dead and separated from God. He is no longer the manifestation of love, but fear. This then shows that they died spiritually.
The physical death and all the other horrible things that we experience in life and the corruption of living in a fallen world are the consequences of the spiritual death of Adam and Eve—image bearers of God—in this creation. They were to be representatives of God. We’re all still in the image of God, but it’s a corrupt image because of sin.
So, when Christ goes to the Cross, He has to pay the legal penalty for sin. The legal penalty for sin was spiritual death, not physical. That’s a consequence. Between 12 noon and 3 PM Jesus Christ is on the Cross. God shrouds the area in deep darkness, so that no one can watch what happens.
At the end Jesus recites Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
During those three hours, God the Father is separated from the Son, not in terms of His being—the Trinity can never be broken—but legally, because Christ has been made sin for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21, “He who knew no sin was made sin for us.”
He is legally separated from the Father, but at the end, to make sure we understand what happened, John in his Gospel says, “When it was TETELESTAI”—when it was finished. TETELESTAI is an important word. It’s in the perfect tense in Greek, which means it’s talking about something that’s already been finished in the past. Jesus is no longer working on that which provides salvation. It has been completed.
Second thing we noted about that is it’s a financial word. It is a word that was put at the bottom of a bill when the bill was paid. TETELESTAI meant “paid in full;” that is, there is a financial legal transaction on the Cross where our debt is paid.
I’m using that specific terminology because that’s the background for our passage this morning in Colossians 2:12–14. The debt was paid not potentially but actually. That debt is actually paid, so that sin, as we will see, is no longer the issue. The issue is faith in Christ. At the conclusion, not only does John say when it was TETELESTAI, Jesus said TETELESTAI.
Whenever the Holy Spirit repeats anything that closely with the same verbiage, all of our antennae are to be wagging around and wiggling because something important is going on that the Holy Spirit wants us to pay attention to. Twice he makes it clear that what Christ did on the Cross has been completed, and He hasn’t died physically yet. Then He gave up His spirit; then He died physically, and we covered all of that. But what we’re looking at is what He accomplished for our salvation.
We’re taking a little interlude from our study, looking at these five things:
1. First of all, that what He did on the Cross was substitutionary: He died in our place; He died as our substitute.
2. Second, it was to accomplish redemption. That means it paid a price.
3. Third, it canceled something. That’s what TETELESTAI is all about: it’s paid in full; and therefore, the debt is canceled.
4. Fourth, it provided forgiveness.
5. Fifth, satisfaction to God’s character, to His justice and His righteousness.
We looked at what the Bible teaches about substitutionary atonement.
We saw that this is emphasized in passages such as 2 Corinthians 5:21, that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us.”
The language there in the Greek uses a preposition indicating substitution. He died in our place: that’s the transaction.
The Old Testament pictures this through the sacrificial system where an individual is going to put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, as in Leviticus 1:4, and recites his sins so that his sins are transferred to the animal that is to be sacrificed. And on that basis, he makes atonement: a word there that means to be cleansed and purified from sin.
We have this picture of substitution. What I want to show you as we go through this is that the Old Testament gives us visual images and object lessons of the doctrines that are explicated in the New Testament. Here we have this picture of the sacrifice of substitution through the placing of the hand on the sacrificial lamb.
As I pointed out too, which I need to continuously remind us of, there are three things that are problems that every human being has.
The first is that there’s this judicial penalty that has been assigned to us because of Adam’s original sin. We are under the legal penalty of spiritual death. To be able to spend time with God, to have fellowship with God, that legal penalty has to be paid. It could not be paid by any of the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament.
The second problem is that as a result of that legal penalty, every human being until the end of the Millennial Kingdom is born spiritually dead. That’s an experiential problem. The first is a legal problem.
The third problem is that we’re born with a lack of righteousness. We do good deeds, we have morality, but we do not measure up to the perfect righteousness of Christ.
In God’s solution the judicial penalty is paid for at the Cross: that is substitutionary redemption. Christ dies in our place. He pays the bill for us.
It’s like if I were to take you out to dinner, and you got up. Your intention was you were going to pay for it yourself. You got up, though, you had to go the restroom. When you came back, I had paid the bill. There’s nothing more you can do; it’s paid in full. You can’t do anything. You can’t even pay the tip. It’s taken care of. That’s what Christ did on the Cross. We can’t add anything to it; it’s paid in full.
But that doesn’t change the fact that we’re born spiritually dead, and we don’t have righteousness. By believing in Christ, we get new life. That’s what John 3 is all about, that by believing in Christ we get eternal life.
John 3:18, “He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who believeth not is condemned already …” Because of his nasty sins … is that what it says? No, because his sins are paid for. “… because he has not believed in the name of the Only Begotten Son of God.”
It is that belief that gives us new life, but it also does something else. It solves the third problem, which is the lack of righteousness. At the instant we believe in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us—why?—that the righteousness of God might be found in us.”
When we trust in Christ, He solves those two experiential problems of spiritual death and unrighteousness: that’s substitution.
Secondly, we looked at what the Bible teaches about redemption.
The key verse is 1 Peter 1:18–19, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and spot.”
You see in that first illustration that we have a lamb. Pictured there is the placing of a hand on the lamb: that’s the picture of substitution. The death of the Lamb is the picture of redemption: that’s the payment of a price. Substitution, Christ takes our place; redemption, He pays the price for us.
The key word is payment of a price.
This is the same thing that was seen in the Old Testament picture at the Exodus, that God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt. Christ redeemed us from slavery to sin.
Sixth point last week was that redemption is the basis for the cancellation of our sins.
The word used sometimes in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, in the old King James and sometimes in theology, is expiation—not a user-friendly word today. But if you understand it, it means that a debt is canceled.
That’s our passage today, Colossians 2:13–14, where we will look at the third and fourth accomplishments of Christ on the Cross, the cancellation of the debt, which brings forgiveness of sin at a level toward God, not toward us. That’s where people get all confused.
People really don’t understand forgiveness. They don’t understand forgiveness in terms of this first category that God can forgive us and cancel the debt without saving us. They get all confused. They say, “Well, if He canceled the debt, then that means we’re all going to get saved, right?”
No, because you have to believe in Christ to have the spiritual death problem solved and to have the lack of righteousness problem solved. That comes through faith alone.
There’s a forgiveness that is legal toward God. There are three other kinds of forgiveness in the Bible. We have a lot of problem with forgiveness because we think we really have to hold people’s feet to the fire. That’s not our job; that’s God’s job and God understands the issues a whole lot better than we do.
We’re looking at what the Bible teaches about the cancellation of sin and forgiveness.
I think this passage that we’re looking at, Colossians 2:13–14, is one of the most significant and important passages that I’ve run across to help us understand that transaction on the Cross. It’s a long section; the passage actually begins in Colossians 2:12. Paul, as is his common style, is complicated. He piles phrase upon phrase. We’ve all gone through this or most of us have gone through this before, but it’s a good reminder for us as to what has happened here.
A famous Anglican Greek scholar, who wrote under his initials C.F.D. Moule, wrote quite a bit on the New Testament. He was known by his friends as Charlie. His full name was Charles Francis Digby Moule. He was born to missionary parents in Shanghai, and He wrote a number of commentaries.
He was given various awards by the British Empire. He was made a Commander of the British Empire, which is an order of chivalry for the military and civilians. He was also made a fellow of the British Academy. He was an Anglican priest and a theologian, and he has great insights into the Greek text.
He wrote concerning this section from Colossians 2:4–3:4, that “This section contains one of the most important of St. Paul’s descriptions of what is achieved by the death of Christ, and one of his most emphatic reiterations of the theme of the incorporations of believers that should be in Christ.”
The key verse for understanding cancellation and forgiveness, that ties it together with redemption, is in Colossians 1:14 and the parallel is in Ephesians 1:7.
Colossians 1:14, “… in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
Ephesians 1:7, Paul wrote it this way, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
In both of those passages he’s talking about what we as believers have. There is a forgiveness that precedes that positional forgiveness that we have in Christ. But it’s connected to forgiveness. All of these different facets of what Christ did on the Cross are interconnected and interdependent, so that redemption is the payment of the price.
You go to a restaurant. You get the bill. You pay the bill. That’s redemption. The canceling of the debt, which flows from that is the expiation. That cancellation or eradication is also described as forgiveness, the forgiveness of a debt. You’ve probably heard that phrase before. This ties substitution and redemption now to cancellation, an economic term.
Paul begins this verse by saying, “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses ...”
I want you to notice something. In English we have these words that end with “ing.” Grammatically, that can be a participle or it can be a gerund. This is a participle; you know that from what the Greek says. But what does that mean “being dead?” What’s the action there? Or “having forgiven.”
This is translated, according to Dr. Robert Thomas who taught Hermeneutics and Greek for many years at the Master’s Seminary, with the same level of ambiguity that you have in the original Greek. For Thomas that’s a good thing because Thomas thinks that these translations that try to be more specific and override the ambiguity are making an interpretation. It is not the role of the translator to make an interpretation, it’s the role of the pastor in the pulpit to make the interpretation and to explain the ambiguity.
All languages have ambiguities and that’s just the nature of the language. But if you look at the whole context, you can figure out what it actually means. What this means as we look at this, and if you were to look at the Greek grammar, it is talking about the condition that we are in at the time that we’re saved. By looking at the context, by looking at parallel passages such as Ephesians 2:1, we can see that.
This first phrase is important: “being dead.” We know it’s a participle in the Greek and it’s talking about your existence and what is your existence at the time. The main verb here is going to be that he’s “made alive.” Participles like this—an adverbial—tells you something about what’s going on in connection to the main verb.
It’s talking about your condition at the time that you’re made alive, so it modifies that, and as a present participle, the action of that participle “being dead” is seen as being at the same time as the action of the main verb.
At the time you’re made alive, you’re spiritually dead. That’s all that it’s saying. It’s temporal, though. It should be translated “when you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” “At the time that you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”
Although it could be concessive because that’s the ambiguity here: they can have slightly different nuances: “though you were dead in your trespasses and sins”. It’s still saying the same thing that basically you’re spiritually dead and you’re incapable of having a spiritual life or a relationship with God. We were dead, but not physically. We were dead spiritually; we were separated from God.
This is the same thing that is said, for example, in Ephesians 2:5. “Even though we were dead in our transgressions, God made us alive together with Christ.”
This is the main verb, to be “given life.” That’s what Jesus said. He came to give life: that’s salvation, John 10:10; and to give it abundantly: that’s the spiritual life. That’s the result of spiritual growth.
Ephesians 2:5–6 says that “though we were dead in our trespasses and sins—or when we were dead in our trespasses and sins—God made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the Heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Just that remarkable: what we have in Christ. He develops that fully in Ephesians which we will go to after I finish Matthew, but it is developed as a parallel in Colossians 2:13.
So, the question we then ask is: He’s made us alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. So what’s the relationship between forgiveness and being made alive?
What most of us read when we read through this is that we are spiritually dead, we believe in Jesus, we’re made alive in Him, and then forgiven of sins. If you think that, you’re wrong because that’s not what the grammar in the Greek indicates at all. The grammar in the Greek tells us even more about God’s grace and what happens at the Cross.
Colossians 2:13 says that we’re “… made alive together with Him, having forgiven you …” but that translation doesn’t tell you about when that forgiveness occurred.
The word that is used there is CHARIZOMAI from the word CHARIS, the word for grace in the Greek. It’s talking about a gracious action and it often means forgiveness. In some passages, as I’ll show you later, it refers to the forgiveness of a financial debt. That’s the imagery of even APHIEMI, which is the other Greek word for forgiveness.
It’s an adverbial participle, so you have to go through about 10 different types to see which makes sense, and what makes sense here is that it’s causal. That it is “because” He had forgiven us of trespasses.
That makes sense because you see what we have here is an aorist tense. I know this gets into the weeds grammatically, but this is so important because the main verb is an aorist, and when you have an aorist participle, that means the action of the participle—that is the forgiveness—comes before the action of the main verb, which is to be made alive.
Now isn’t that interesting? That is saying, just grammatically, you are forgiven before you are made alive. When did that happen? Did that happen just a few minutes before? Is this some kind of hyper-Calvinist thing that God just boom-zaps us because we’re elect, and then makes us alive, and before that He has already done everything. No, that’s not what’s going on here at all.
The word has three meanings:
1. To give freely or graciously.
It’s always emphasizing the grace aspect of what’s happening. In this case, the grace aspect of forgiveness.
2. To cancel a sum of money or a debt that is owed, Luke 7:42ff.
It’s that idea of canceling a debt. The debt, of course, is the penalty of sin.
3. To forgive or pardon an action.
When we look at this in its totality it means “because He had already forgiven”. So, it reads like this, “when you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh—as a spiritually dead unbeliever—He has made you alive together with Him—because He had already—forgiven you of your sin.”
That’s the thrust of it. Total forgiveness. How did that happen? That’s what the rest of the next verse is going to tell us. It’s emphasizing the idea, “cause”, or maybe time after He had, but I think it’s cause. That makes more sense.
We see here that Scripture has four categories of forgiveness, and this is the first category. It’s a forgiveness that is directed toward God where the justice of God cancels the debt of sin. It’s for all mankind without distinction, without exception. Every human being has that debt canceled. The legal penalty is paid by Christ.
We think about these categories of forgiveness:
1. Forensic forgiveness has to do with the justice of God.
If you watch CSI or NCIS or any of those crime dramas, they’re always talking about forensic science. It has to do with science that is related to justice in the courtroom. That’s what this is related to. God’s justice is going to cancel that sin. That relates to that fifth work of the Cross which is satisfaction or propitiation. We will get to that next time.
2. Forgiveness: what happens experientially at the moment we trust in Christ.
That can happen to us experientially only because at the Cross the debt’s paid.
Just to give you a preview, if you read into the rest of the statement that comes up in verse 14, the last line reads, “… and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
When did He nail it to the Cross? Well, He was on the Cross in AD 33, so this forgiveness that we’re talking about can’t be something that happens experientially when we believe, because this certificate of debt is nailed to the Cross when Christ died. That’s when He eradicated that debt.
Isn’t that glorious? That every single human being has had that legal penalty canceled at the Cross, so they don’t have to do something for that.
There are so many people who when they are evangelizing say, “You’ve got to deal with all your sins.” No, you don’t! Jesus already did it. I don’t want to hear about your sins, I don’t want you to get involved in a huge pity party and try to demonstrate your remorse over all those sins that you had so much fun committing before and be a hypocrite. It’s over with. They’re paid for. It’s not about your sins. It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus. It’s about what Christ did on the Cross.
The instant we do believe in Jesus, then we’re forgiven positionally; we’re placed in Christ. Remember those two verses I talked about initially, Colossians 1:14 and Ephesians 1:7? We’re forgiven positionally in Christ. We are in Him. So, we always have that status now of being forgiven in Him.
3. Experiential forgiveness, 1 John 1:9.
When we sin, as I explained earlier, we’re no longer “walking in the light as He is in the light”, we’re walking in darkness experientially. We’re walking by the sin nature, so we are to confess our sin and we realize forgiveness.
Let me give you an illustration: you’re born into a wonderful family. Your parents love you. They provide you with everything that you could possibly imagine. But there are times when that harmony you have in this wonderful family is broken because you do something stupid; you’re disobedient to your parents, whatever it might be, and all of a sudden you know it’s just not the way it was.
Something happens. Sometimes you’re punished, but sometimes you just have to admit that you were wrong. Once that happens, that rapport, that harmony is restored and recovered. When you sin—and positionally you are forgiven because your folks love you—they’re just waiting for you to say, “I’m sorry. I sinned.”
When we confess sin, that doesn’t mean we apologize for it because God knows … When you get arrogant and all of a sudden you realize how arrogant you’ve been, maybe when you’re 12 or 13 you just feel terrible about it. But God doesn’t care how you feel because you’ve said, “Oh God, I’ll never do that again. I feel so bad. Please don’t punish me.”
God says, “Well, you’ve already done this 8,932 times and you’re going to do it another 59,732 times before you die, so I’m not impressed with your protestations that you’ll never do it again. It’s paid for; it’s not the issue. I want you just to admit that you sinned and what it is, and I’ll instantly forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Not the one sin you just committed, but all the other ones that either you don’t want to admit yet are sins, or that you forgot about, or you don’t know they’re sins. I’m going to cleanse you from those, too.” That’s grace.
That’s not a license to sin. That is the freedom to recover so you can keep growing. A baby is going to use that for a license for sin. You know that. Nobody knows this but you and me, but when you are eight or nine years old and your parents thought well you’re grown up, you can stay home by yourself for little while. While they were gone you raided the cookie jar or whatever.
You did whatever you thought you could get away with. That if your parents were there, you wouldn’t get away with. That’s because a characteristic of immaturity is to use freedom for a license. We all do that, but we grow through it hopefully. As you mature, you begin to realize that freedom is an opportunity to excel; it’s not the license to fail.
4. Relational forgiveness, Ephesians 4:32.
We are to forgive one another as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. That’s the pattern.
Back to the words for forgiveness; there are two basic words that are used in the New Testament:
The first one is APHIEMI or the noun form APHESIS, which means to let go, to cancel something, to remit. You’ve heard that in the King James it would translate repent for the remission of sin. Same word for the forgiveness of sin. Forgiveness is a more user-friendly word today.
But it means that—to cancel, to remit, to leave, to forgive. The noun has the same range of meanings—to release, to pardon, to cancel, to give forgiveness, and it emphasizes the act of forgiveness.
The second word is CHARIZOMAI, which means basically to show favor or kindness because the act of forgiving is an act of grace. It’s an act of kindness. It’s to be gracious to somebody. It’s to cancel out a debt, which means it’s over and done with and forgotten. It emphasizes that attitude of forgiveness: that it is gracious; it may be undeserved; it’s unmerited.
You know, that dirty so-and-so still doesn’t deserve it. They’re going to do it again. That’s when Jesus answered Peter when Peter said, “Well, how many times do I forgive this lousy person, seven times?” And Jesus said, “No, 70 × 7.” In other words, you never stop forgiving them, just as He never stops forgiving you.
I don’t want to show of hands, but how many people have been angry more than 490 times in their life? How many have lied more than 490 times in their life? That’s 70 × 7. How many have committed who knows how many mental attitude sins over 490 times? And God still forgives you, doesn’t He? That’s what the idiom means: it goes on and on and on.
Matthew 26:28, Jesus is establishing the Lord’s Table. He says of the cup, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness (or remission) of sins.”
Hebrews 9:22 says, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood …” That is, without death, that’s what shedding of blood means. It’s an idiomatic phrase for death. “… there is no remission of sin.”
In Luke 7:42 when the woman washed Jesus’ feet and Simon the Pharisee objected, Jesus gave a parable about forgiveness of a large monetary debt to teach forgiveness. He uses this word. It’s the cancellation of a debt. Both words, CHARIZOMAI and APHIEMI, are used to refer to cancellation of a debt.
Slides 31 and 32
When we correct that translation, we see this important phrase “because He had already forgiven us.” “He made us alive together with Him because He already forgave us from all our transgressions.”
Colossians 2:14, “… by …” Or when; it’s another participle. You have to figure out what the main meaning is. It’s temporal, I think, “… when He canceled out the certificate of debt …” That’s when He did the forgiving, when He canceled the certificate of debt. And we know when He did that because when we get to the last phrase it is going to tell us it happened at the Cross.
This phrase “to cancel” is really interesting. It means to wipe out something, to blot it out, to erase it, to eradicate it, to remove it. It has never existed before. And that’s God’s grace. He removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. It’s totally over with. He’s not going to bring it back up and say, “Oh man, you’re doing this again. You know, why don’t you just quit?”
That’s how we are. “Lord, I’m doing it again. I’m going to beat myself up just a little bit more.” That’s what we do because people don’t really believe God forgives them, and that’s the whole point—God forgives you. It’s final. It’s over with. It’s eradicated. Get over it. It’s not about you, it’s about Him.
In the Old Testament, the comparable word is this word maha, which means to wipe or wipe out something. For example, in Psalm 51:9 when David is confessing his sin, his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, his sin of conspiracy to have her husband, Uriah the Hittite murdered, and his conspiracy to cover it all up, he gives praise to God.
He says, “Hide your face from my sins …” That’s a picturesque word for saying, “Close your eyes, forget it. It’s over with. I’ve confessed it,” which is already done in the passage, and he says—and blot out—wipe out—all my iniquities.”
In Isaiah 43:25 this word is used when God is speaking. He said, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
We remember them again, and we go over it again and again because that’s just a denial of God’s grace, and then you have to confess that as a sin.
It’s like people used to chain-smoking. You just light one cigarette off of another cigarette and you just keep going, and it gets worse and worse and worse as you go along. That’s what they do with chain-sinning.
“Oh, Lord, I’m so sorry.” And then 15 minutes later you do it again, you’re embarrassed you did it, you just confess it again because you don’t believe He actually forgave you the first time. Problem is you don’t believe God, and you don’t want to forgive yourself.
What people have to do is learn to forgive themselves. This is a major problem in our culture. We have a lot of people, maybe some of you, who grew up in circumstances where there was physical abuse, where there was sexual abuse, where who knows what. Maybe it happened later in life, and you blame yourself. Typical problem of victims is they blame themselves and try to take ownership for whatever happened to them.
But God says “ ‘A’ you didn’t do anything to cause what happen to you, and ‘B’ no matter what part you may have played in it, once you confess it, it’s over with, and you’re cleansed and forgiven,” and now you have to believe and live as if you’re cleansed and forgiven because you are. You just put that behind you; God has put that behind you.
Peter uses the Greek phrase here in Acts 3:19, “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” That’s forgiveness; it’s wiping it out.
In the Greek it’s the same word there that is used in Colossians 2:14, EXALEIPHO. ALEIPHO is a word for anointing. Anointing is when you take oil and you rub it on something. You can anoint a wound, you can anoint your head; you rub something on. EX means out of, so it’s to rub it out, so that it’s no longer there.
This word is used in another passage in Revelation, that when we are in Heaven, that there will be no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain, for the old things are wiped out. Same word; so that gives you that visual picture of just rubbing it out and removing it.
Colossians 2:14 tells us that this happened (when) “He canceled the certificate of debt”—which is like a handwritten document.
It’s an indictment against someone, against a criminal, that was consistent of decrees. This is the word “dogma.” We get that in the English with a slightly different sense, but it’s a written document or a proposition or a legal type of context. It would be the formal indictment of somebody, which is your sin.
We see that the certificate of debt is the sin for which we are condemned. It’s a written decree against us in opposition to us and in this context, it’s referring to the Gentiles.
What happens then? He canceled this debt out, and then it says, “… and He has taken it out of the way …” This is the word AIRO. That’s the same word used of Jesus rising from the dead. It’s removed. It’s carried away, so that debt is not only blotted out, it is removed, it is taken completely out of the way. In the Greek it’s in the perfect tense, meaning it’s completed action.
Before you were made alive together with Christ, sometime in the distant past when it was nailed to the Cross, it was eradicated and it was taken out of the way. That’s what that perfect tense means. It’s something that happened in the past and was completed in the past, not when you believed, but when Christ did it. It’s the objective payment of the price on the Cross. It happened when He nailed it to the Cross.
What’s the conclusion?
1. Sin is not the issue at salvation because sin has been paid for, canceled, eradicated, taken out of the way, nailed to the Cross. The individual sin is not the issue. The issue is something else: it’s belief in Christ.
2. This does not mean that sin or the sin penalty and the reality of a person’s spiritual death is ignored.
When you’re talking to somebody, it’s not that you never mention sin, but you don’t make an issue out of their sin. But a person has to realize that because of sin they are spiritually dead. Because of sin they are under the condemnation of death. Because of sin they’re not going to have eternal life. But you’re not making an issue out of their sin and making them feel guilty about it.
3. The focal point is grace. God has eradicated it. God’s provided for it. Are you willing to accept that gift? Are you willing to believe in Christ? Because that’s the issue.
Over 96 times in the Gospel of John, John uses the word “believe.” He doesn’t ever say, “Invite Jesus into your heart.” He never says, “Invite Jesus into your life.” He says, “Believe” again and again. Why are they condemned? Because they did not believe in the name of the Only Begotten Son of God.
He didn’t say, “Because they did not sincerely believe.” Because if you believe something, it’s sincere. You may believe it for five seconds and then not believe it anymore, but you believed for those five seconds, and that seals the deal because you’re “once saved, always saved.” That’s it. It’s grace: it’s not about you, it’s all about Jesus.
4. The point of application beyond the gospel is that if Jesus paid it all on the Cross, then He solved our greatest problem; and therefore, He is capable, He is sufficient, to solve any other problems you have in life.
That’s it. That’s the sufficiency of the Cross, the sufficiency of grace, and sufficiency of the Word. If Jesus could solve your greatest problem, then there’s no problem you face in life. It may impact you more personally, profoundly, experientially at some point.
You may feel a lot worse about it, but Jesus is still omnipotent. He still solved your greatest problem which is spiritual death and separation from God. And if you can trust Him to do that, then you ought to trust Him for all the other stuff that you’re not willing to trust Him for because He is able to solve any problem.
God plus one is a majority.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things today and to be reminded of Your love for us, what You provided for us at the Cross, that You provided a Substitute Who redeemed us, Who canceled our certificate of debt, and forgave us.
“Father, that is just more than we can possibly understand. This is our message to the lost: that we are to believe in Christ for the forgiveness of sin, because we are forgiven at the Cross, the debt is paid. Now the issue is what do you think about Jesus?
“Father, we pray that if anyone here, or anyone listening online, or to these recordings that if they have never trusted in Jesus alone for salvation, then they will do that. That God the Holy Spirit would make it clear to them that this is the issue. As Paul replied to the Philippian jailer when he asked, “What must I do to be saved?” He said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”
“He didn’t add anything to belief. It was simply to accept that gift, to receive Jesus Christ as Savior means to believe in Him. And the instant we do so we’re born again, we have eternal life, and we have your eternal righteousness.
“We pray for all of us that we would be reminded, as Paul said, that we have been bought with a price; therefore, we are not our own, and we are to live our lives to the glory of God.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”