Aloha Friday Message – July 22, 2016 – Your Debt Deleted

1630AFC062416 –  Your Debt Dismissed and Deleted

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! (I have temporarily deactivated my Facebook account, so I am hoping you will post this to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or whichever social-media apps you use.)

Colossians 2:13-14 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, 14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) I hope you’ve had a great week and that – wherever you are – the weather has been kind to you. There have been some horrific weather events this year, and I sincerely hope you came through all that unscathed.

I chose this passage today – it’s from Sunday’s Epistle – because it is one of those passage we read and go, “OK then.” Trespasses, uncircumcision, a record that stands against us, and that record being nailed to the cross – all of these are things we don’t normally deal with in our day-to-day conversations. Nonetheless, this little bundle of words carries a powerful punch, and I’d like you to know why. Here we go!

You may recall from previous messages based on passages in Colossians that the church in Colossae was having some disquiet stirred up by outsiders who disparaged Paul’s Apostolic authority, insisted on certain precepts of Jewish law as the basis for admission to the Church, and were teaching that angels had a role in salvation. They “knew” these things because they had “special information by revelation.” In this passage, Paul continues to chip away at their so-called theology. Paul really blows them away with this part of his argument. I will help you see into the unfamiliar words and hopefully that will make this passage – and Paul’s argument – more meaningful.

Trespasses – We do hear this word often when we pray The Lord’s Prayer. Some churches say “trespasses” while others say “debts,” but they mean the same thing. In the Old Testament, trespass is פֶּ֫שַׁע (pesha`) {peh’-shah} which means transgression – disobedience, indiscretion, offense, crime, debt to society and to God – SIN. In the New Testament, the word is παράπτωμα  (paraptoma) {par-ap’-to-mah} – a falling away to the side, a lapse or digression from Truth, so it is also transgression – disobedience, indiscretion, offense, crime, debt to society and to God – SIN. Paul is pointing out that, before Salvation through Christ Jesus, we were trapped in the futility of trying to live up to The Law; but, The Law is incapable of delivering the salvation that leads to Eternal Life through complete forgiveness of our trespasses – debts, offenses, etc. We are dead in sin, but can be alive through and in Christ.

Uncircumcision – This is kind of an unpleasant thought, yes? Why in the world would Paul put this in his message? Perhaps you will recall that these outsiders were insisting that men who wanted to participate in what they perceived as “The Church Proper,” had to be circumcised. As I said previously, not a terrific way to win converts! But there is more to it than that because there is more to the whole concept of circumcision. Circumcision was an outward sign of an inward dedication to The Covenant. In Genesis 17:10, God says to Abraham, 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.  (Please use that link to see this passage in context. It’s important for understanding what’s coming next.) Circumcision was a permanent, very visible, and unique way of identifying someone committed to The Covenant. Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites also kept this practice, but only the Hebrews connected to The Covenant and – more importantly later on – The Law. Those who were uncircumcised were not part of The Covenant and not expected to know or be subject to The Law. These were “The Gentiles,” the non-Jews in the world. Paul is arguing that getting circumcised now is pointless because now Christ has fulfilled all The Law. In addition, it signifies that conforming to The Law is accomplished only in Faith through Love. We see similar lessons in Ephesians 2:11-12, Galatians 5:6, and 1 Corinthians 7:19. (← Click’em. It’s good to know!) One of Paul’s most consistent themes is that human effort cannot fulfill the requirements of The Law. The Law keeps a ledger – a written indictment – against us, but Christ’s law of Love destroys that ledger. In Christ, then we have a “circumcision of the heart.” If you are a serious student of the Bible, I invite you to read all of Romans 2. If you’d like a quick peek into that passage, just read this: Romans 2:25-29.

God made you alive together with him – This is a pretty unique concept-word. It’s only found twice in the Bible – here and in Ephesians 2:5. It is Συνεζωοποίησεν suzoopoieo {sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o}. It is to reanimate two or more entities at the same time and place – Christ is alive with and in us and we are alive with and in him. For the gentiles in Paul’s time, that was a mind-blowing idea. Two, together, yet separate, restored to new “vim, vigor, and vitality” after having been hopelessly dead in sin because of The Law. “But how could gentiles, who were surely not part of The Covenant and The Law be subject to it or even be aware of it?” you ask. Paul points out (again Romans 2) that The Law is actually within our hearts, and that is what “circumcises” – cuts us away from – the World. When we obey the good we know in our hearts, we are doing our human best to comply with The Law, but only in Christ do we break free of the law and the wages of death that it brings. Cool, huh? As Paul states, “he forgave us all our trespasses.

Next we have “erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands.” Erasing is something we understand. It was there, and then we did something to make it not there. In this message, if I want to erase something, I highlight it and delete it; we call that erasing, but it’s actually deleting. What’s the difference? Erase is to make something visible become unseen – not invisible, but unseen. It is something that is done in the physical world. You rub a rubber nub across marks on a piece of paper and you erase it. You can write or type over it, but there are still remnants of it on the page. If you delete something in the physical world, you make it gone without a trace. In this electronic message I can erase something by marking it out like this, but you can still see what it is. The term Paul uses here is ἐξαλείψας (exaleipsas) {ex-a-li’-phas} and it means obliterated, wiped out, plastered over, completely removed, and canceled. What was cancelled? “The record” that stood against us is gone. Record? What record? The answer is surprising. That word is δόγμασιν (dogmasin) {dog’-ma-sin} and it refers to ordinances, decrees, edicts, laws, “the rules and requirements of the law of Moses; carrying a suggestion of severity and of threatened judgment.” Do you see a familiar root-word in that? How about “dogma?” A dogma is a creed, a system of belief, a code of conduct based on belief. The uncircumcised and the circumcised have broken the ordinances of God, and those charges are documented as in an indictment under The Law. We are criminals! Yikes!

Col2+14+smHe set this aside, nailing it to the cross. We might think this one is easy to figure out. My sins died with Jesus on the Cross. His death brings my salvation and the end of my sins. When I rise with him, it will also be the death of my sinful nature for I will be forever unable to sin again. But wait! There’s more! The nails of the Cross penetrated this record against us and held it fixed to the Cross and invalidated forever. The indictment – the formal charges documented against us under the law – has been nailed shut. That cancelled document has been publically nailed to the wall as testimony to its nullification of our condemnation. That contract of sin’s wages of death has been annihilated and the warrants against us destroyed. Everyone in heaven and earth and under the earth can see that we are not only pardoned of our crimes (they are erased) but we are indeed totally debt-free, and alive with, in, and for Jesus the Christ. Our ledger is stamped, “Paid in Full.”

Now you know the power of that punch by which Paul popped the pagans!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Keep praying for FC and CR and all our family and friends battling cancer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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