Summary: To receive forgiveness of sins you must place your trust in Christ, and believe that your sin debt is only paid by him bearing the penalty of the curse for you.
Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians chapter 2. We’ll read verses 13-14 this morning as we continue in the letter to the Colossians.
Just to refresh our memories, the reason Paul was writing this paragraph in which we find ourselves was to protect the believers from following false teaching. There were people circulating ideas about how to really relate to God and the spiritual realm in the appropriate way, how to do it right and be truly wise and on the right path.
But these teachings were not according to Christ as Paul put it in verse 8. And being very wise himself and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he knows how to undermine the appeal of these alternative gospels. He does it by explaining to them – and to us - just how great we have it as believers, and we need nothing more than to walk in the goodness of what God has already done for us through Christ.
So in verses 9-15 he tells us what God has done in us and what he has done for us through Christ. We dealt with what God has done in us a few weeks ago. We have been filled in him – that is, in Christ we have everything we need to be complete or fulfilled because we are connected to the fullness of God himself. We were circumcised …by the circumcision of Christ (verse 12), meaning that the old sin-enslaved person that we were, is gone, put to death when Christ died on the cross. And we were made alive together with him, meaning that in place of the old self is the new self that is empowered by God to love and serve him.
That’s what God did in us as believers. Now in verses 13-15 Paul tells us what God has done for us, or outside of us, that made these other realities possible. We’ll look at the first one today in verses 13-14. Next week we’ll look at the second one in verse 15.
READ COLOSSIANS 2:13-14
This text is about the forgiveness of sins. To forgive means to release someone from liability to suffer punishment or penalty for wrongdoing. It’s the decision not to hold an offense against someone, to not count it against them, to not let it be a barrier to friendship.
According to Paul, indeed according to the Lord who inspired Paul to write this, believers have been forgiven their trespasses, their wrongdoing, and are released from their liability to suffer punishment or penalty from God for it. God made us alive together with [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses (verse 13).
This morning we’re going to consider what God has done to forgive us, to forgive all who belong to him by faith in Jesus Christ. And it is important to see that something does need to be done, because it would not be uncommon for a person to think that God can forgive our sins by simply saying, “Let’s just forget your sins and be friends”; to think that because God is merciful he will just sweep our sins under the rug and decide not to do anything about them, but instead give us his love without any conditions.
Well, God is merciful. Without that there certainly would be no forgiveness. And he does give us his love and decides not to count our sins against us. But it doesn’t come without any conditions. Something needs to be done about our sin in order for God to forgive us. Paul describes it as …canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.
We’re going to spend our time considering what that debt is and on how it is cancelled, leading to the forgiveness of sins. And may the Lord use it to make us freshly amazed at what was accomplished for us by the cross of Christ; and freshly humbled by the necessity of the cross of Christ on our behalf.
We’ll go about this by first defining the debt that Paul writes about, the debt that each of us owes to God; and then we’ll see how that debt is paid, and close with application.
Let’s begin by defining the debt.
1. THE DEBT DEFINED
Paul speaks of a record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. What is this debt that he is talking about?
Well we know what a debt is when it comes to money. Let’s say you want to buy something that you don’t have enough money to pay for. It could be a college education, or a house, or a car. So you go to a bank or some other financial institution and you ask them to loan you the money. Let’s say it’s $10000. That $10000 is now your debt. It’s what you have to pay back someday. And you sign papers saying that you’ve received this money. That paper is your record of debt.