Maybe the most important text in the New Testament that deals with victory in Christ is found in Colossians 2:13-15. “He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
In these three short verses Paul brings together the two aspects of the saving work of Christ. At the cross our sins are forgiven, and the principalities and powers that have held us in bondage to sin, are overthrown. Some people mistakenly believe that Paul was doing away with the law in this text, but that would hardly be the case since in Romans 7:12 Paul says the law is “holy, righteous and good.” It would seem instead, Paul is talking about the broken law “with its regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us.” Our inability to keep the law perfectly every moment of the day and every day of our lives placed us under the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10) and condemned us to death.
However, Paul tells us that God cancelled the “written code” taking it away and nailing it to the cross. What does he mean by that statement? The two words “written code” come from the Greek, cheirographon, which means a hand-written document, specifically a certificate of indebtedness, a bond” or “a signed confession of indebtedness which stood as a perpetual witness against us. Sin, the breaking of the law, the written code, has perpetually placed us in indebtedness and bondage to evil. Now, let’s notice three verbs that bring amazing good news to us lost sinners. Paul says God “cancelled” the bond by “wiping it clean” and then He “took it away, nailing it to the cross.”
Yes, we are sinful, but our sins are forgiven. They are cancelled, wiped clean and taken away because of the blood of Jesus shed at Calvary’s cross. The written code no longer condemns us because the blood of the lamb redeems us and our sins are forgiven and forgotten. They are wiped clean, taken away and cancelled; nothing could be clearer. John Stott notes in his masterpiece, The Cross of Christ, “In any case, God frees us from our bankruptcy only by paying our debts on Christ’s cross. More than that, He has not only cancelled the debt, but also destroyed the document on which it was recorded.”
But, the cross more than freed us from sin; it brought the ultimate defeat of Satan. First of all, God “disarmed” or stripped Satan and his evil angels of their weapons and power. Next He “made a public spectacle out of them” showing once and for all that they are powerless powers. Lastly, “triumphing over them by the cross,” He sealed their fate. What is remarkable about Colossians 2:13-15 is that Paul shows us that we are not only free from the penalty of sin, but Christ has at the same time overthrown the principalities and liberated us from their power.
The Devil is a defeated foe and although he continues to resist, the outcome is never in doubt. When we accept Christ we are guaranteed redemption and the record of our rebellion and sins are nailed to the cross. We have been purchased by the ransom price and then set free. When we cry out to God, forgive us and save us in your kingdom, the Holy Spirit touches our hearts with assurance that all we ask is possible because of the cross. Just as Jesus took place of Barabbas on the cross, He also took our place. When He promised the thief on the cross next to Him that he would be in paradise with Him, Jesus was assuring all who believe they also will be with Him in paradise because the power of evil to hold them in bondage has been broken and the ransom is paid in full. We walk as free men and women not spending our lives trying to be good enough, but walking in the assurance Jesus is good enough. There is no merit in our actions because Christ won all the victories at the cross. When we are “in Christ” we are safe in the arms of God and those nail printed hands hold us close and no “power or principality” can snatch us out of His hands.