What Was Nailed to the Cross?
Login or Create an Account
With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!
What Was Nailed to the Cross?
It was not God’s laws! Rather, Jesus’ death made it possible for our sins to be fully erased upon our repentance.
[Steve Myers] So I discovered there was no law, no legal, no ceremonial, no sacrificial, or really any other law that was nailed to the cross. And recognizing that changed everything in my life. I mean, I'd been taught my whole life growing up that I didn't have to worry about that. You know, I have grace. The new covenant, didn't it do away with all those laws, so I don't have to worry about them? What does the Bible really say?
I didn't know it would be a turning point in my life. I had just started to attend college, and Christian friend of mine came up to me and he challenged me. He said, "Do you believe in sin?" and he caught me off guard. I wasn't quite sure what to say. How do you define sin, what is sin? And I thought, well, doing bad things. I thought that was a pretty good start at answering the question. And then I remembered, well anything you do where you really don't hurt anyone else that's not a sin. So if you hurt other people that must be a sin. So I felt halfway confident about my response. But then it started to weigh on me later as I thought about it. Well, how do you define sin? Do we go by what society says? Is it just doing something that's bad? And it caused me to start to get into the Bible.
I felt I was a Christian at the time, and I felt kind of inept that I didn't even know how to answer a simple question like that. So I started looking in the Bible, and I found 1 John 3:4, where it says, "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness and sin is lawlessness." So I looked at that and it actually took me back, because the apostle John defined sin as a violation of God's laws. But wait a second, that's not what I learned when I was growing up. You know my church that I grew up in, taught that the law was nailed to the cross. It was done away. It was abolished. I didn't have to worry about law. Maybe you believe that as well. Was it?
I was a little confused by what that Bible passage said, so I thought, I kind of remember some passage that talked about things being nailed to the cross and I wanted to find where that was. So I got out my Bible and I was scanning it, and trying to find it, and I finally ran across Colossians 2:14. And that particular passage was one that I began to take a little bit of solace in, and here's what it says. It refers to Jesus Christ and it says, "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." So I was like, a-ha, there it is. I don't have to worry about that law. That is not something. It's against me. It was nailed. It's done, it's gone, taken out of the way. I have grace so I don't have to worry about that law. So I tried to convince myself of that, but I began to think, well maybe that's not the whole story.
So let me share with you what I've discovered. I began to look at other passages and a number of places in the Bible began to jump out at me. One of them is found over in Romans 7:12 and it sent me in a whole other direction. Romans 7:12, it says this, "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." And then I found the Psalm, Psalm 119:97. Here king David said, "Oh, how I love your law. It's my meditation all the day." And then one that really set me back a little bit was what Christ Himself said over in Luke 16:17. Christ Himself said, "It's easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail." That's the smallest little stroke of a Hebrew letter. In fact, one translation said, that doesn't mean the law has lost its force, even in the smallest point.
Now I'm left with this dilemma. This is a contradiction, isn't it? Because it's nailed to the cross, but I'm supposed to think of it all the day. I'm meditating on this. Well it's got to be done away, but it's holy, and just, and good. But Colossians said something is wiped out. I was at that time hoping it was the law, cause I didn't know any better. But what was nailed to the cross? What was wiped out? And as I thought about it, well is it okay then if the law is done away for me to murder someone? Well obviously I can't murder anybody. Well, can I lie? Should I keep the Sabbath holy, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset? Is it okay to covet and cheat and lie? Well, no that wasn't acceptable. So what exactly did Christ's death wipe out? I still had to answer that question. And so I began to think back to what an old sage once told me. He said, when you got a Bible question, don't forget the three C's. And I remembered that and went, oh yeah think of the context, the context, the context. Those were the three C's. Look at the section of scripture that it's talking about.
And so I went back to Colossians and I looked back at verse 13, just before that section that talked about something nailed to the cross. And New Living Translation says in verse 13 Colossians 2, it says, "You were dead because of your sins. God made you alive in Christ.” It said, "He forgave all our sins." So I began to see in the context the real issue, the sin. Sin was the issue, lawlessness, immorality, trespasses, all those things are sin, are wrongs. That was the context, that pointed to the problem, and so I had to begin to conclude that context is definitely about sin. It wasn't about the holy, righteous, perfect law of God. Yet those words still bothered me in Colossians 2, and so I thought, I'm going to try to figure out what those words really mean, because still looking at that, something was definitely nailed to the cross. So what was wiped out? So I began to look at that. Now I am not an expert in Greek. So I began to look at various translations, some more modern translations, and the words that jumped out at me were really revealing. Some translations say that wiped out section means canceled out, or obliterated, or destroyed. Some translations say blotted out, or wiped away, or erased. And so I began to see that word was used in reference to wiping out something, but in the context, what did it have to be? Sin, not the law. Now I wanted to verify that, because it was certainly taking me that way. So I wondered, is there any other place in the Bible where that same phrase is used, wiped out, that same word? And I found one, it was over in Acts 3:19, and here the apostle Peter, he mentions this same word. And he said, "Repent therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." That's that same phrase, erased, blotted out, done away. And what was it that Peter talked about? Sin. It was about sin. And in fact, I found a similar connection to the Old Testament. There was a similar phrase in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah 43:25 says, "I, even I," this is God speaking, "He who blots out your transgressions. He blots it out, I will not remember your sins." I looked that up in the New Century Version, and God says, "I am the one who erases all your sins." I won't remember your sins, He says. So that really began to convince me what was taken away. What was erased? What was wiped out? Boy, it pointed to me to the fact that only sin was wiped out, not the law of God. And so I began to be convinced that you can't do away with God's law, but yet there were other words in that phrase in Colossians 2 that I wasn't quite sure about.
And what about this handwriting, that's got to be that law that's done away, right? That handwriting that was against us, the handwriting of requirements, Colossians 2:14, what was that all about? So I started doing some research, digging out my Bible, trying to find other phrases for that. In fact, you can do the same thing. In fact these days it's a lot easier, you can just go on Bible Hub, or you could go to Blue Letter Bible, or you could go to Bible Gateway, and you could look at all these various translations that help you really get the idea of what a certain passage might be talking about. And sure enough, this handwriting of requirements was translated differently in other translations. Things like, the charges proved against us, the bond against us, the record of our debt, or a bill of charges. Those were all different things that referred to this handwriting. In fact, I discovered something amazing that this wasn't just a nice little phrase that the apostle Paul was using. This was actually a literal thing that he used as an example, this handwriting was something that back in the first century, they would write out a document where they would agree to pay back a debt. And so a loan would be given to someone and they would receive basically what we would call an IOU. And here's an example of a first century IOU, a handwriting of requirement and this one's promising to pay back a loan of 105 drachma. So if you've got any drachma, you could pay off this loan.
Now this is written on papyrus, and it's a little bit different than our paper today. It's something that's not really porous, and so the ink doesn't really absorb into the page and so it actually dries on the surface of that Papyrus. And so when you begin to think about this handwriting against us, well, what stands against us? Well, we found that in 1 John, our trespasses, our sins are against us, like an IOU, our sins stand against us. And in fact other first century documents, like this one, it's another one of those IOU's, one of those handwritten agreements to repay a loan guaranteeing that the debt would be paid. Now when this debt was repaid, can you guess what they did? Yep. They crossed it out. They crossed it out saying, this debt was paid. But that's not what the Bible is talking about. When he says that is blotted out, it's erased, it's obliterated, that is a technical term for actually washing off the text of the papyrus document, by wiping it away with something like a sponge that would dissolve the ink. And so if you look at this next document, you can see where someone began to do that very thing, that next to last line, you can see very clearly that that text has been blotted out, you can't read it. Now this is the initial attempt at getting rid of that, and that's not really even what the Bible's talking about there in Colossians.
Look at this next document. This document has been blotted ou, in the same sense that we read in Colossians 2. And this particular papyrus is in the University of Michigan. They have it in their advanced papyrological information system. And you can look this up on the web, and it will tell you right there, it says, the ink is effaced at all the written areas of the papyrus. It was washed out deliberately. That's what the Bible is talking about. This papyrus now is like a clean slate and through the sacrifice of Christ we can have our sins cleared, obliterated, erased. And when I began to put that together with what Romans 6:23 says, it tells us, what I deserve, what I've earned, "The wages of sin is death." Well, that's that requirement that's against me, my sins stand against me. "But the gift of God is eternal life." And so for the violation of God's standard, for my sin I have a debt against me, but it can be erased. And I began to recognize the fact that it's not the commandments.
The commandments don't bring death. It's sin. Sin brings about death. So definitely pointed to the fact that the law's not done away. And boy when I saw what it said in Romans 7:7, it really began to come that much clearer. Here, the same one who wrote about that oblation of sin, that wiped away, here the apostle Paul says, "What shall we say then, is the law sin?" His answer? "Certainly not," he says, "on the contrary, "I would not have known sin, except through the law. I wouldn't have known covetousness," is what he says here, "unless the law had said you shall not covet." So it brought home such an important point in my mind that it showed that the law is really what shows us our sin. It reveals what sin is. If there were no law, boy we'd have no idea what sin is all about. And so the law is a reflection of God and His character and it's like a mirror to us. When we look into the law of God, we can see what we really look like. And it's a perfect reflection of God's holy, righteous character. And it is our standard if we claim to be believers in Jesus Christ, we have faith in God the Father, we have to then strive to please Him. And it is His standard. And so as I tried to put all of these different things together, yeah, no doubt, Christ did take something out of the way that was nailed to the cross, and that's something, the record of our sins, our trespasses, not the law of God.
Now without some payment for that sin, I would be responsible. We would face death ourselves with no hope beyond the grave. And so that ink, that illustration that the apostle Paul used, our sin, the debt we owe to God, it wasn't like, you know, a wrong answer on a test that we tried to scratch out and get rid of. It's not like that smudged up version that we saw before. When God wipes the page, it is clean. There is no trace of our old sins, nothing left to accuse us. I ran across the New Testament in modern English and this really gets to the heart of the matter, in kind of an easy way to understand what was said in Colossians 2:14. It says, "Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments, which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the cross." Now that might sound a little confusing, and at first it did to me, until I remembered the events of the crucifixion. If you're familiar with the crucifixion, you can recall how Christ was crucified. Not only was He nailed and crucified but they hung a sign over His head and that particular sign is actually recorded for us in the gospels. Matthew 27:37 is one section that refers to that sign and it says, "They put up over his head, the accusation written against Him." Remember the charges written against us, that written, same base word there, the charges written against Christ, "This is Jesus, the king of the Jews." That's what Matthew records. So that was the written record of the accusation against Christ. And the Romans would often do that to the criminals, hang up their charges that were against them. And so we see the apostle Paul using that illustration, and it becomes so clear then, well, what was nailed to the cross? Well, when we read the gospels, we know it was the physical body of Christ. Absolutely, no doubt. Matthew and the other gospels refer to that sign that was also nailed. So those two things, without a doubt, but that's not all.
That note of guilt, that writing that is against us, the record of our sins, that was nailed when we accept the sacrifice of Christ, that pays in full our debt. And so Christ canceled that record for us when we accept Christ as our Savior, when we turn to God in faith, when we are baptized, when we commit our lives to Him, and we seek forgiveness. It makes the forgiveness of sin possible, so ultimately we can be born into the family of God. So I discovered there was no law, no legal, no ceremonial, no sacrificial, or really any other law that was nailed to the cross, and recognizing that changed everything. It changed everything in my life, and it became a turning point. In fact, it brought an urgency that I really wanted to know more. Well, what does the Bible really say? I mean, I'd been taught my whole life growing up that I didn't have to worry about that. You know, I have grace, God has given me mercy. Maybe you felt that same way, and hopefully you can begin to look into the truth of God. It is a huge subject, and there are lots of questions that that may bring to mind. Sometimes I call those the what abouts, because, well, what about this passage? Doesn't it say I'm saved by grace, and I don't have to worry about that? And well, what about the new covenant? The new covenant, didn't it do away with all, all those laws, so I don't have to worry about them? Well, did it negate God's law? What about the new covenant, is God's law done away?
Well, those are probably more questions that you would like to answer. And so we have something to help you in your path, your journey to discovery of what God's word really teaches. It's a special offer that we have for you today. It's a book that's called, 'The New Covenant, 'Does It Abolish God's Law?' It will begin to answer those what abouts. You can sit down with this free offer. You can sit down with this study aid, and use it as a Bible study aid right next to your Bible. So we're offering it free. If you'll call us at the number on your screen, we'll send you a free copy of, 'The New Covenant,' or you can go to our website at, beyondtoday.tv. You can download it yourself, or you can read it online if you prefer to do that. I mean there's no doubt Christ certainly instituted the new covenant, but does that mean God's law is abolished? Is God's law a burden or is it a blessing? This study aid will help you answer those very questions. And what about God's grace? Does God's grace replace the need to obey God's law? What about God's law? You may have been taught, like I was when I was young, well that's bondage, the law is bondage and we don't have to worry about that anymore.
Don't you want to know what the Bible says? You need to know. So order, 'The New Covenant, Does It Abolish God's Law.' You can go online at beyondtoday.tv, or call us at the number on your screen. Order it now, because it will help you to look into the meaning of the new covenant. Are all the days of worship alike? Have you ever wondered about that? Why does the Bible talk about all these holy days of God, and what is my responsibility when it comes to these things? And how does God's law affect the new covenant? Well, this study aid will certainly help you to unlock the secrets that are right there before your eyes in the Bible. So order your copy of, 'The New Covenant, Does It Abolish God's Law.' Call us at the number on your screen, or go to beyondtoday.tv.
Now, when you begin to think about the abolishment of God's law, we can certainly recognize the true meaning of Colossians 2:14. If you felt God's law was nailed to the cross, hopefully you've begun to see, nope that is just not the case. You'll begin to discover God's holy law is still in force. We don't have a license to keep on sinning. In fact we recognize in the Bible, we couldn't even define sin if it weren't for the law of God. And so that would leave most Christianity wondering, well how do you define sin then? How do you define sin? Is it just doing bad things, or does God have a standard? For me a breakthrough came when I recognize what it said in Romans 6:1, because those things that I was discovering agreed with what was written there in Roman 6:1. Here's what it says. It says, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" Well, that's where I was. I'm under grace, I don't have to worry about the law. Well, wait a second, God's law defines what sin is, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" Well, what was Paul's answer? "Certainly not!" In fact that's the strongest phrase that you could see when you look at the original Greek, no way, couldn't be possible, not happening. "Certainly not," he says. Then he says, "How shall we, who died to sin, live any longer in it?" It certainly presented me with a choice, will I follow God's way, will I continue my search? Will I actually apply what I learned, and change my thinking, change my lifestyle. If I was going to really change, it was more than just accepting Jesus as my Savior. I had to understand His sacrifice, and when I discovered that meant obeying God's law, that meant repenting, changing my mind into recognizing what I used to be and now try to conform to the character of Jesus Christ. And so, that change of direction, from the old way to God's way, was something that was certainly revealed to me through God's holy word. And it means a changed life. So my study not only brought about that change in what I believed, it brought about a change in how I worshiped. It can for you too. I pray you take the challenge, prove it to yourself.
Order our study aid, call us at the number on your screen, go to beyondtoday.tv. Find out what was nailed to the cross, what is the new covenant all about? And if you will more fully dedicate yourself to God, allow His law to define and reveal your sins, and then, through Jesus Christ, you can eradicate them, allow God's Spirit to work in you and through you, as you have hands laid on you at baptism, and ultimately you can take on the character of Christ, and begin that spiritual journey to obey God, and follow His commandments, and truly show that you love God and you love His way. So I pray you'll discover the truth for yourself and if you do, it can lead you to a dramatic turning point in your life.
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free study guide offered on today's program, 'The New Covenant, Does It Abolish God's Law.' Jesus said He didn't come to destroy the law, yet this is exactly how some people read the gospels. Our free study guide, 'The New Covenant, 'Does It Abolish God's Law' will help you sort out fact from fiction. Learn the truth from your Bible about how Jesus came to rescue humanity, and set them on the path to complete transformation, and how God's law plays a crucial role in the lives of His people throughout every part of scripture. Order now. Call toll free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. God's word cannot be broken when we interpret it responsibly. When you order this free study guide, we'll also send you a complimentary one year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine. Six times a year you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family. Call today to receive your free study guide, 'The New Covenant, Does It Abolish God's Law,' and your free one year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine. 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to beyondtoday.tv.