Let’s begin this study with Colossians 2:8-14
8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13 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,
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
The Bible explains that each person who enters the world has been born through Adam. Through him, we inherit our sin nature. We aren’t sinners because we committed sin. We committed sin because we were sinners. That nature is born into sin and seeks to serve itself.
From early childhood, we begin to demand our ways while also learning how to develop a selfish attitude based on our sin nature. This is why it is impossible for man’s efforts to make him righteous. Even if we do good by human standards, it still is born through a sinful nature and is ultimately self-serving. We do good because it makes us feel good. We sacrifice because it makes us appear honorable. Honorable to those watching, and honorable to our own egos.
Jesus said that whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The flesh cannot produce spiritual fruit. It can only produce flesh and decorate it with man-made works. This is also why Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of our righteous acts are filthy in God’s sight.”
One thing that is often overlooked by Christians is that we are not only receiving Christ, but He is crucifying our old nature. Not only is Jesus taking our sins out of the way, but He is taking our fleshly nature out of the way, and He is taking the law that kept us in bondage out of the way with it.
Christians often focus on the front-side of the cross. We have little trouble understanding that Jesus paid for our sins, but that is not all Jesus accomplished. Jesus took our sins completely out of the way, took our sin nature out of the way, and gave us His life and His righteousness. You are righteous because you are a possessor of the righteousness of God in Him. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
It is NOT your righteousness that pleases God. It is your faith in Him so that you are a receiver of God’s righteousness. He took your sin out of the way through His death. He also took your sin nature and the burden of the law upon Himself. The barriers between you and God have been taken out of the way, and a new nature is born. We’ll look at our new birth in detail next week, but let’s take a moment to focus on the work of God to remove our sin and sinful nature.
Before Christ, you had one nature. It was a corrupt nature born through Adam. After Christ you also have one nature, but this nature is born of God, has its life in God, and abides in the Spirit. Look now at 2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Old things have passed away. Your old man was crucified with Christ and taken out of the way. This is what the Bible means when it speaks of the circumcision without hands. In the Old Covenant, God provided a living symbol of what He would one day perform for us. Every male child had to be circumcised in order to enter into God’s covenant of promise. The flesh of the child’s foreskin was cut away as a symbol of God’s working. The child had to do nothing. They were unaware of what was happening to them.
When Christ came, God unveiled the meaning of circumcision. He alluded to this even in the Old Testament. Look at Deuteronomy 30:6
And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
We are the descendants. This is why the Bible says that anyone who is born of faith are the children of Abraham, who is the forefather of the Jews. The outward foreshadow of circumcision became the inward working of the Holy Spirit at our new birth.
Before Christ, your nature has a bent toward sin. Your heart is sinful, corrupt, and incapable of pleasing God. You cannot enter into God’s promise because your sinful nature is incompatible with the life of the Spirit. But when the message of Christ is preached, the Holy Spirit reveals the joy of the Lord as He draws us to submit to His call. Anyone who responds by faith receives new life. But that new life cannot occur until the circumcision of Christ occurs first. The Spirit cuts away your old nature, buries it in Christ, and a new life in the Spirit is born. This is what is meant by being born again.
You cannot enter into God’s promise while the old nature is within you. God circumcises the fleshly nature away, we enter into the covenant of promise, and we are born as a new man and receive the promise that now all things are new and of God. Old things have now passed away, and behold all things are new – and all things are now of God!
If you put your trust in Christ, you are now buried with Christ! The old nature that ruled you is dead, buried, and taken out of the way. Look now at Romans 6:4-7
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
You are not trying to get rid of an old nature – if you are in Christ, that old man (or fleshly nature) has been crucified with Christ. Past tense. It is not your work, it is the work of Christ. Your body of sin is now unemployed.
In the next few weeks we are going to look at the source of sin and why we still struggle, but we must first understand that our old nature is dead and gone. There is a little confusion in the way verse 6 is translated. Most translations say things like, “The body of sin might be destroyed,” or, “The body of sin might be destroyed.” ‘Might be destroyed’ is translated from a single Greek word, ‘katargeo’ which literally means to become unemployed.
Our sin nature is gone, but sin remains in our flesh; however, the flesh is now unemployed. It once ruled us, but now has been rendered idle. This is why the Apostle Paul said that sin in his flesh wars against his mind, trying to bring him back into captivity. We’ll discuss this in detail at another time, but what’s important to understand now is that the nature that sin once ruled has been taken out of the way. We are born into a new nature that is born of God.
Let’s look at another passage that can help us get our minds around this truth. Look at Romans 7:1-6
1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another– to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
I love this illustration. The Bible begins by presenting the law and our obligation to it. As long as you are alive, you are under the law. Every sin creates judgment. The Bible says that by the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justified. Righteousness cannot come by the law. The law is a reflection of God’s perfect standard based on His perfect nature and character. The Bible also warns that if we offend the law on any point, we are guilty of the whole law. The law is not a grading system. There is no 80% good. There isn’t even a 99% good. The law takes our lives, acts of sin, sinful thoughts, intents of our heart, obedience, disobedience, and compares it to the whole law. The Bible even says, to know good and to not do it is sin. The Bible also says that anything not of faith is sin. Have you ever not trusted in God? Or been afraid to step out in faith? What about the command to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Have you had any thought that was not based on the love of God?
The law says, “Are you perfect.” If the answer is ‘no’, you are guilty. Now this passage is presenting this problem. It compares the law to a husband. The husband is perfect. The law is good, holy, and pure. Unfortunately, we who are born under that law are not. The law has no tolerance for sin, for all sin is a challenge to God’s authority and an assault on perfection.
Anyone born under the law remains under the condemnation of the law unless the law dies. Yet we know the law cannot die, for it is eternal. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the word will never pass away. The comparison is that we are married to the law from birth, and unless the law dies, we cannot be free. Yet now we see the love of God presented to us through Christ, but we can’t be joined to Christ because our marriage to the law can never be annulled. It must die before we can be free, but it can’t die because it’s eternal.
Then the Bible gives an amazing solution. The law can’t die, but you can. And Jesus, the embodiment of the love of God cares enough for you to bear the penalty for your sins and die for you. While that will take care of your sin, it won’t free you from the law. So God offers an amazing solution. Be crucified with Christ, die to the law, and the one who has died is no longer under the law.
Your old nature was born through the flesh and is forever bound to the law of condemnation. God now promises, let Me put your flesh to death, and then you will be free from the law and born into a new law – the law of faith. The law of life in the Spirit. Now look at Romans 8:2
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Once you are in Christ, the law of condemnation has no power. Let’s add one last passage to this topic. Galatians 5:18
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
In Christ, you are a spiritual man or woman. You are not under the law, but in Christ. You have a new nature whose life is in Christ and a nature that desires the righteousness of God. This is why the Bible says, “The Gentiles who did not know the law, did by nature the things found in the law, proving that the law of God was written in their hearts.
Our new nature is a partaker of God. Its nature is to act in accordance to God’s will, because its nature is to do so. It is only when we submit our minds to the flesh that sin rises up to trouble us.
In Christ, you have a new life. The condemnation you once had can no longer condemn you. You now have the promise, “Now all things are of God.” You were crucified with Christ, set free from the law and all its condemnation. Now there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. But this gift of God is only received by faith.
God is calling. God has expressed the amazing love He has for you in the person of Christ. The Bible says that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. Did you know that you were the encouragement of Jesus when He was facing the torture of the cross? The joy of your reconciliation was the joy set before Him, and He endured for your hope of redemption. This is the love of God given to you.
You died with Christ, you are free from the law, you are free from condemnation, and all you must do is receive His gift by faith!
Eddie Snipes 2014
Listen to Eddie’s weekly podcast at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hollydale-baptist-church/id893226987