Monday, August 18, 2014

Grace and legal documents

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.  Colossians 2:13-14 NRSV 

This brief passage of scripture provides us with a legal picture of gracePaul is describing the way that physical circumcision illustrates the spiritual circumcision that brings us to ChristIsrael's law and religion were closely intertwined and circumcision represented the religious, legal and political aspects of a Jewish man's lifeCircumcision is a covenant or agreement between God and AbrahamIt was an outward sign of a spiritual pledge to honor and worship only the LORD, and when a man became circumcised (usually as a baby), he became a political part of the lineage of the nation of Abraham, and subject to its laws and customs.
In verse 12, Paul is speaking to the Colossians, and the pronoun "you" is addressing the members of the church in Colossae.  The pronoun "him" refers to Christ, and the pronoun "us" refers to Jewish and Gentile Christians, or in other words, all of the followers of Christ.  
 The church at Colossae had many Gentiles among its members, and Paul is reminding them that although they are uncircumcised, they are still included when Christ forgave all of us of our trespasses. Circumcision is a rather hazy issue for modern Christians because we associate circumcision with health procedures, and associate the religious aspect of the procedure with Jewish practicesIn Paul's time, circumcision was hotly debated as a requirement to become a ChristianSince Christianity started with Jewish men, the first Christians were circumcisedHowever, Paul is reminding the Colossians that God saved them when they were uncircumcised, and He forgave them just as he forgave the Jews who were circumcised. 

Verse 14 illustrates a perfect blend of the legal and spiritual grace that God has extended to ALL of usIt says that God erased the record that stood against usHe erased itDo you know how hard it is to erase a legal documentIt is not just a hard thing to do, it is impossible to remove ink from paper or parchment because the ink is absorbed in the fibers, and becomes a part of the paper.  We can destroy the document, but we cannot erase itGod does not destroy itGod does not declare that our sins were never thereHe erases the writing without destroying the paper!  Then, God set the paper aside and nailed it to the cross.  God's grace does not only forgive us, it justifies usGod erased all of the documentation that detailed the crimes that I committed, then He allowed His only son to take the punishment for the crimes for which I had already been forgiven. This grace, it is definitely amazing.