Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 6 2013 - Colossians 2:6-23 – Nailed to the cross

Paul is writing to those in Colossae who had welcomed the message concerning the Lord Jesus Christ that had been preached to them. Now, however, some are in danger of being led away by “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Colossians 2:8) – by human ideas which may seem attractive, even very spiritual, but which lead away from Christ.

Don’t be distracted by such ideas, says Paul, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (2:9-10). There is nothing that God has for your blessing that is to be found outside of Christ. There is nothing you need to know of God that is to be known apart from Christ. You need nothing other than him; you only need more of him. So, “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (2:6-7).

In particular, the good news of the gospel centres in the cross of Christ. His death and resurrection are the source of the Christian's life and are to determine the shape of that life.

Paul paints a graphic picture of what Jesus accomplished for us at the cross. Think of all the many ways in which you have fallen short of all that you should be. Imagine them written out as a long list of charges against you, charges that might be brought against you in the court of heaven. God took that lengthy charge sheet and nailed the whole thing to the cross of Christ. Jesus took our place and bore the penalty for our wrongdoing; our charge sheet has been wiped clean (Colossians 2:13-14).

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!

But there is even more to be found in this picture. The law also has been nailed to the cross. All of those details of the "written code with its regulations, that stood opposed to us and was against us" (2:14) have been nailed to the cross. Our life is not to be shaped by the rules and regulations of an external code but by the person of Jesus Christ and by the life of his Spirit within us, enabling us to live to please God where the law only served to condemn us. So Paul warns the Colossians against those who would drag them back into a life dominated by detailed regulations rather than a life shaped by Christ (2:16-17). Are Paul’s words any less relevant today?

We need to realise that in Christ we also have been nailed to the cross. We died with him to the things that formerly shaped our lives and have been raised to new life with him (see 2:12 and 20-21). We share in his resurrection life and in his triumph over all the powers that previously held us captive (2:15). We are called to live the resurrection life, the life that flows from the power of the risen Christ at work within us (see tomorrow's passage).

Father God, thank you for Jesus, your Son, in whom the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Thank you that he paid the penalty for all our sins and that there is no more condemnation for us; we are forgiven, justified. Thank you that he has triumphed over all the powers of darkness through the cross and by his resurrection from the dead. Gladly we own him as Lord. Help us to live as those who have been raised from the dead and whose lives are shaped by the risen life of Christ within us.

Peter Misselbrook