The Cross as an Instrument of Triumph

Dr. Steve Viars April 28, 2019 Colossians 2:13-15
Outline

Colossians 1:19-20 - For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

3 responses to the victorious work of our risen Savior

I. Celebrate Because of the Certainty of Your New Life

Colossians 2:13 - When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions…

A. The power of small little phrases like “in Him” and “with Him”

2:6 - …walk in Him

2:7 - …built up in Him

2:10 - …in Him you have been made complete

2:11 - …in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands

2: 12 - …having been buried with Him in baptism

2:12 - …raised up with Him through faith in the working of God

2:13 - He made you alive together with Him

B. The pressure to find answers or relief in other places

Colossians 2:1 - For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face…

Colossians 2:4 - I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.

Colossians 2:1 - …those who are at Laodicea…

Colossians 4:16 - When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.

Revelation 3:15-22 - I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

C. Facing the reality of your problem head on

Colossians 2:13 - When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh…

1. Dead in your transgressions

Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death…

2. Dead in the uncircumcision of your flesh

Romans 5:12 - Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…

“Circumcision was the outward demonstration that man was born sinful and needed cleansing. The cutting away of the male foreskin of the reproductive organ was a graphic way to demonstrate that man needed cleansing at the deepest level of his being. No other part of the human anatomy so demonstrates that depth of sin, inasmuch as that is the part of man that produces life--and all that he produces is sinful. From the beginning, circumcision was used symbolically to illustrate the desperate need man had for cleansing of the heart.” John MacArthur, Colossians

Colossians 2:11 - …and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ…

Colossians 2:13 - When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him…

II. Celebrate Because of the Extent of Your Forgiveness

A. Having forgiven us all our transgressions

1) God’s forgiveness is gracious - Romans 3:24 - …being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

2) God’s forgiveness is complete - Ephesians 1:7 - We have been forgiven “according to the riches of His grace.

3) God’s forgiveness is eager - Ezekiel 18:23 - “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

cf. Psalm 86:5 - For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.

4) God’s forgiveness is certain - Acts 26:18 - …to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.'

5) God’s forgiveness is unequaled - Micah 7:18 - Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.

6) God’s forgiveness is motivating - Ephesians 4:32 - And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

B. Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us

C. Having nailed our certificate of debt to the cross

Colossians 2:14 - …the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

III. Celebrate Because of the Completeness of Your Victory

Genesis 3:15 - And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.

1 Peter 3:18-19 - For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison…

Hebrews 2:14-15 - Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

- When you think about great athletic victories, what examples come to mind?

- If you are into sports trivia, you can probably think of a specific game, maybe a certain college basketball final or a super bowl game...but it was especially memorable to you – it was a great triumph…

- maybe when I ask that question, you think of a victory in your sports career, where your little league team won the pennant, or your softball team at work won the league championship.....

- perhaps when I say victory, you don’t even think of sports, but instead a fine-arts competition you were in, or a debate team victory.

- whatever the case, whether you were a spectator or a participant....can you picture in your mind what it’s like when a team wins a great victory....and they are now sharing in the celebration?

- now let me ask you to add this to the picture....

- what would you say if a person on the team wasn’t celebrating....

- while everyone else is jumping up and down and screaming and having a great time....he’s over in the corner moping around....kind of like Eeyore in Winnie the Poo except with a sports jersey on....

- maybe he’s upset about a bad play he made earlier in the season and he’s focusing on that, or he’s worrying about whether they’ll win again next year.....

- but he’s just standing there, outside of the circle of people celebrating, failing to, or refusing to join in?

- would you agree that that would make for a strange picture....I mean, even the team manager is joining in...and the guys or girls who didn’t play very much are whooping it up....everybody’s joining in the victory celebration but this one person.

- wouldn’t you agree that that was out of place?

- now, let me ask you this?

- what’s going to happen to that guy if he doesn’t snap out of it?

- how’s it going to affect the way he performs next season?

- how’s it going to affect the way he views that time he messed up a few months ago?

- how’s it going to affect his confidence?

- how’s it going to affect his joy?

- how’s it going to affect his impact on his team-mates?

- would you agree with me, this person needs to learn how to share in the celebration?

- he or she needs to learn how to benefit from the triumph?

- and if they don’t....they are going to suffer, and everyone else is going to suffer as well?

- now, you might say --- PV, why are you asking us about this?...[did someone in our church fail to celebrate properly when their team recently won a ball game?]

- no, this is much more significant than that....

- see, the picture we’re painting could be true of a person spiritually....

- if you know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the Bible says that there’s been a victory.

- and if you haven’t trusted Christ yet, but you’d be willing to, Scripture also says that there’s a victory awaiting you as well....

- but here’s the catch....you’ve got to learn how to share in that victory.

- you’ve got to learn how to benefit from that triumph....

- you need to know how all of this is intended to affect the way you view your past....

- you need to know how all of this is intended to affect the way you view the here and now...

- you need to know how all of this is intended to affect the way you view the future...

- and, God has given you and God has given us a symbol to help us be reminded of this victory....and I’m happy to be able to speak to you today about how The Cross [is] as an Instrument of Triumph.

- let me invite you to open your Bible this morning to Colossians chapter 2…page ___ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this Easter season we’re doing a series entitled Growing by Embracing the Cross

- and we’ve talked about many important truths including how…

- The Cross as an Instrument of Peace

- The Cross as an Instrument of Power

- The Cross as an Instrument of Sacrifice…

- now today we’re thinking about The Cross as an Instrument of Triumph.

- this is the second time in this series we’ve found ourselves in Colossians…

- earlier we were in chapter 1 where Paul makes the marvelous affirmation that -- Colossians 1:19–20 - For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

- we also learned that apparently Paul had never met this group of followers of Christ which shows how rapidly the gospel was spreading and how powerfully our resurrected Lord was keeping his promise to build his church…

- so the apostle Paul writes them this letter and on the one hand, he is rejoicing because of the depth and beauty of their faith…and he wants them to know that as soon as he heard of them, he began praying that their faith and love for the Lord would continue…

- but he’s also writing out of concern…because he knows they face pressure from both inside and outside the church to think that Jesus isn’t really enough…

- they also need worldly philosophy or man-made rule and principles in order to handle life well…

- it’s amazing how similar our culture is in the sense that we’re surrounded by an endless list of solutions to problems and secrets to joy and satisfaction that attempt to focus our attention on practically anywhere and anything other than the sufficiency and superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ…

- and Paul’s antidote to that, in part, is thinking carefully and comprehensively about the cross…including how it’s our instrument of triumph…

- please look for how he develops that theme in chapter 2…

- read Colossians 2:1-15

- so we’re talking about The Cross as an Instrument of Triumph…and with the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 responses to the victorious work of our risen Savior.

I. Celebrate because of the Certainty of Your New Life

- Paul said in verse 13 - Colossians 2:13 - When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

- the only thing better than the incredible new that Jesus Christ is alive…[and by the way – you could rightly say in your mind and heart right now – whatever you put at the end of this sentence better be really, really good – because I can’t think of anything better than the news that Jesus Christ is alive – that’s a fair challenge – so let me back up and try again] --- the only thing better than the incredible news that Jesus Christ is alive is the affirmation that people you and me can also be alive with Him…

- I hope you noticed as we read…

A. The power of small little phrases like “in Him” and “with Him.”

- did you see how Paul emphasized that throughout these verses?...

  • 2:6 - …walk in Him
  • 2:7 - …built up in Him
  • 2:10 - …in Him you have been made complete
  • 2:11 - …in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands - [we’ll talk more about that in a minute]…
  • 2: 12 - …having been buried with Him in baptism
  • 2:12 - …raised up with Him through faith in the working of God

- this is speaking about how when a person at a specific point in time places his/her faith in Jesus Christ as lord and Savior…we are united with Him…

- it’s our union with Christ which becomes an essential part of our identity…

- theologically, it’s the gospel indicatives…who we are in Christ…and information like this appears in some of the most important passages in all of God’s Word about believers change and grow and handle the issues of everyday life…

- we don’t stand up and say – Hi I’s Steve – I’m a this or a that – reminding us of our sin or our failure…we stand up and say with confidence and amazement – Hi, I’m Steve, and by the grace of God I stand before you in Christ…

- clothed in the righteousness of God’s Son…not only is He alive…but…

  • 2:13 - He made you alive together with Him

- now, the challenge is…

B. The pressure to find answers or relief in other places

- Paul is obviously concerned…

- Colossians 2:1 - For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face…

- Colossians 2:4 - I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.

- there is always this pressure to find joy, and satisfaction, and direction in places other than Christ’s triumphant cross..

- so you can have a relationship with God through your own good works…

- or you need the ever changing philosophies of psychologies of man…

- and that is so true of the culture in which we live – whether you think about education or media or entertainment…it’s anything and everything but Jesus…

- and lest we think Paul is just overreacting here…there’s a geographical detail here that ought to stop us in our tracks…

- Paul doesn’t just mention the Colossians…he mentions the “who” in verse 1….

- 2:1 – those who are at Laodicea

- that was a neighboring city to Colossae…[both in the modern day country of Turkey by the way, about 100 miles east of Ephesus]…

- Paul mentions this city again at the end of the book…

- Colossians 4:16 - When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.

- so Paul wanted the Laodiceans to also be reminded and challenged about the superiority of Jesus Christ…

- you might say – well, so?...if you know your Bible well, you know that’s a big “so”…

- because this is not the last letter written to the Laodiceans…

- who else wrote to them?...the resurrected Jesus Himself…did you know the Bible contains specific letters written to specific local churches?...it sure does…how many letters (7)…found where?...in the book of Revelation…

- one of them is to the church at Laodicea…and what was the tone of that letter?...

- Jesus said to them…

- Revelation 3:15–22 – I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

- I wonder if the resurrected Savior would have any reason to say that to anyone else who hears this message today?...no wonder Paul was so concerned…

- that’s why he reminded them of their condition in verse 13…

C. Facing the reality of your problem head on

- Colossians 2:13 - When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh…

- you might say – what does that mean?...

1. Dead in your transgressions

- the reason some people are not enthralled with the superiority of the cross of Christ is because at their very core, they are not convinced about the depth of their need…

- Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God

- Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death…

- and Paul uses an incredibly powerful metaphor to help us understand that…

2. Dead in the uncircumcision of your flesh

- and I realize you might say – what, you’re going to talk about circumcision during Easter?…yes, because that’s what this passage does…we’ll seek to do it tastefully, but it is a important issue in this text.

- when God made his formal covenant with Abraham, after Abraham had already placed his faith in the revealed promises of God....the Lord instructed Abraham to be circumcised and to begin the practice of circumcision with those who would come after him.

- you can read all about that in Genesis chapter 17.

- circumcision was the removal of the foreskin of the male reproductive organ.

- not that that act saved Abraham, he had already been saved by faith...[the book of Romans makes that issue very clear in chapter 4…]

- so the circumcision did not save him...it was a symbol of his salvation.

- now this is very important....what was a symbol of? [everything God does He does for a reason]...what was it a symbol of?

- it was a symbol of how, when a person places their faith and trust in God, their very nature is changed.

- before salvation, not only are we dead in trespasses and sin, we are also unable to reproduce anything but the same kind…so our sin nature is passed on biologically from one generation to the next....

- that’s why Paul said in Romans 5:12 --- Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--

- so human beings are born in trespasses and sin, and even worse we reproduce after our kind....but the message of circumcision to the OT Jew was that when you place your faith and trust in God, your entire nature is changed.

- John MacArthur said it this way in his commentary on Colossians....”Circumcision was the outward demonstration that man was born sinful and needed cleansing. The cutting away of the male foreskin of the reproductive organ was a graphic way to demonstrate that man needed cleansing at the deepest level of his being. No other part of the human anatomy so demonstrates that depth of sin, inasmuch as that is the part of man that produces life--and all that he produces is sinful. From the beginning, circumcision was used symbolically to illustrate the desperate need man had for cleansing of the heart.”

- now, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that aspect of the ceremonial law was no longer necessary…and anyone suggesting otherwise to the Colossians or the Laodiceans was detracting from the finished work of Christ on the cross…

- but the message to people like and me is…look at the triumph that the cross had over your nature.

- the very orientation of your life has been changed by your trusting Christ...

- that decision to trust Him affected the direction of your life, and it affected the impact you can have on those around you…

- Colossians 2:11 - and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;

- so we’ll have people here today – hopefully many – who are trying to have a Christ-centered marriage…they’re not producing death in the relationship…they’re producing life as part of the triumph of the cross…

- we’ll have parents who are doing everything they can to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of Christ [I hope that’s your testimony and that you schedule and your lifestyle and your habits back it up…]…but if that’s true, what’s happening?...they’re trying to reproduce spiritual life…and by God’s grace that’s often what happens…it’s a triumph of the cross…

- people here today are involved in ministry in our church in all sorts of levels…why?...to produce and reproduce spiritual fruit…

- think about these college students who give time to volunteer down at the HH or at the NCC…in the purest sense of the word – that is a reproductive act…

- So, I. Celebrate because of the Certainty of Your New Life - Colossians 2:13 - When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him…

II. Celebrate Because of the Extent of Your Forgiveness.

- the main verb is this section of verses is clearly “made alive” in verse 13 – that’s why we started there this am…but did you notice the key ways that verb is developed?...

- if you’re using a NASB this am, it makes it even easier to see – because each phrase begins with the word “having…”

A. Having forgiven us all our transgressions

- can I ask you to just pause for a moment and marvel at the fact that this is possible?...

- and perhaps one of the reasons that some men and women do not want to admit the depth of their need is because they’re not convinced there’s truly a solution…

- in his commentary on Colossians, John MacArthur lists several biblical truths about forgiveness…

1) God’s forgiveness is gracious - Romans 3:24 - being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

2) God’s forgiveness is complete - Ephesians 1:7 - We have been forgiven “according to the riches of His grace.

- there’s no one who could say, I’ve messed up too badly, I’m beyond God’s grace and forgiveness --- no, where sin abounded, grace did much more abound ---- it is complete.

3) God’s forgiveness is eager - Ezek. 18:23 - “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

- cf. Psalm 86:5 - For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.

4) God’s forgiveness is certain - Acts 26:18 - to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.'

- all of this is based on the promises of God, and his willingness and ability to keep those promises.

5) God’s forgiveness is unequaled - Micah 7:18 - Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.

6) God’s forgiveness is motivating - Ephesians 4:32 - And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

- see, celebrate because of the extent of your forgiveness…look at verse 14…

B. Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us

- we all know all about that, don’t we?...

- most of us have plenty of people who are more than ready to tell us all the ways we failed…and all the ways we fall short…and all the ways we messed up and don’t measure up…

- and sometimes the person saying that the loudest is ourselves…by endlessly reviewing all our failures and shortcomings in the past…

- and what does Paul say Jesus is willing to do with all of that?...to cancel it out…

- is there anything better than a bill that has the words “paid in full” written in bright red ink over the top?

- how about our certificate of debt being canceled out by the blood of the cross?...

- Micah was right -- Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.

- and then Paul says this…

C. Having nailed our certificate of debt to the cross

- isn’t that unbelievable?...

- see, how many things were nailed to the cross?...

- well, we know that Jesus was…think of the pain of those nails…what a powerful image…

- curiously, there was also a sign, remember?...a sign of derision – this is Jesus of Nazareth…King of the Jews…

- and the irony of that part of the story is that the Jewish leaders wanted it altered…and cowardly Pilate was sick of those people by that point and he said – what I’ve written, I’ve written…

- but this passage says that something else was nailed there…

- Colossians 2:14 - …the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

- that means that every time someone wants to remind you of all of your failures – if you’ve sought forgiveness and made restitution if necessary – don’t let anyone bring you down with those reminders…

- tell yourself, and them if appropriate – sorry, that one’s not on me anymore…

- and when you start rehearsing those failures in your own mind – why would you want to shinny up the side of the cross and take something down that our heavenly Father nailed there Himself?...

- instead, celebrate because of the extent of your forgiveness…

- there are a couple of important implications of this aspect of the passage…

1. Do you know for sure that you have received this gift?...

- I wonder how many will hear this message today who have concluded that they can save themselves through their own efforts…

- they don’t need a cross…they don’t need someone else’s blood…they don’t need a Savior…

- you know friend – that’s what the Laodiceans said…and over time it led to a kind of faith that wasn’t biblical faith at all…it was lukewarm and it made Jesus so sick He wanted to spit it out of His mouth…

- and what was so insidious was – the Laodiceans thought they were rich…they thought they were wealthy…they thought they didn’t need a thing…at least not anything Jesus had to offer…

- would you heed the message of the crucified, risen Savior… Revelation 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

2. Christian friend – are you allowing your new life in Christ motivate you to forgive others the way Jesus forgives you?...

- we’re told to take up our cross and follow Him…

- why not nail the sins of other people to your cross the way Jesus nailed yours to His?...

- so, celebrate because of the certainty of your new life, and celebrate because of the extent of your forgiveness…

III. Celebrate Because of the Completeness of Your Victory

- God had made a promise all the way back when this war began in the garden of Eden….do you remember what it was?...

- Genesis 3:15 - And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

- this aspect of the Easter story is part of the fulfillment of that ancient promise…

- Peter explained it like this…1 Peter 3:18–19 - For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,

- while Jesus’ body laid in the tomb, His resurrected Spirit proclaimed his victory even over the forces of darkness…

- that’s why the writer of Hebrews could say -- Hebrews 2:14–15 - Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

- because the cross is an instrument of triumph…

Dr. Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video