“When you were dead in your transgression and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the Cross.”
Romans 4:25 says, “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” The Lord Jesus Christ had to be delivered over to judgment because of all three categories of our sin (Adam’s original sin, inherent sin and personal sin). The decrees against us as pointed out in the Law of Moses and throughout the Word of God is the penalty of sin, spiritual death. The penalty of sin had to be dealt with if the human race was to have the opportunity to possess eternal life. Christ, by means of His spiritual death on the Cross, paid the penalty for the sin of all mankind, setting up the potential for anyone who believes in Him to receive eternal life.
He was resurrected because justification was accomplished at the Cross. Justification was accomplished first. The Resurrection is the work of God the Father according to Colossians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Peter 1:21; Romans 4:25. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit according to Acts 2:24; Romans 1:4; 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18. It all depends on what action or phase of the Resurrection is being emphasized. In passages dealing with the mechanical function of the Resurrection it is the work of God the Father. In passages where the Resurrection is glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ it is the work of God the Holy Spirit. It is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus Christ from His birth forward and throughout the entire Church Age.
The Greek word for justification is “dikaiosis” and means “to declare righteous” or “to be acquitted from guilt.” Justification is one half of God’s holiness (integrity), righteousness being the other half. Justification is the function or action of God’s integrity and righteousness is the principle or standard of God’s integrity. God’s justice carries out the judicial sentences pronounced by God’s righteousness. At the moment of salvation, a person is justified by God because righteousness is credited to his account. Justification means vindication. Because of the substitutionary spiritual death of Christ, the believer is vindicated or set free from all charges against him. The penalty for personal sins, inherent sin and Adam’s original sin was paid by Jesus Christ so that the believer’s debt is now paid in full. The obligation that God’s righteousness (the standard of God’s integrity) demanded, with regard to sin, was satisfied by the justice of God (the action of God’s integrity) at the Cross. (Romans 3:28, 5:1; Romans 5:8-9; 9:30-32; Galatians 3:24; I John 2:2)
Justification is the provision by God to solve the problem of man’s sinful condition. God’s justice had to find a way to deal with sin without compromising His perfect character. God’s love provided the answer in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Since Christ had no sin of His own to pay for, He was qualified to pay the penalty of sin (spiritual death) for the entire human race. (II Corinthians 5:21) It is the imputation of God’s righteousness to the believer that guarantees him an eternal relationship with God and qualifies him to spend eternity in Heaven. Imputation means that God credits to your account something that properly belongs to another. In this case, God credits the righteousness of Christ to your account because at salvation you were justified and placed in union with Him through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 3:22; II Corinthians 5:21)
“When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Disarmed is a Greek compound verb that cannot be reduced to one word in the English. It means to strip away; in this verse it means to disarm or to neutralize the enemy. Who is being disarmed here? The angelic forces of Satan are the ones being disarmed. While God the Father was canceling out our debt on the Cross the whole satanic system of fallen angels was being disarmed and neutralized. The Cross “bruised the head of Satan,” which was a fatal blow.
When Jesus Christ was resurrected three days after the Cross, He was on the earth for forty days and then He ascended to the right hand of the Father. When Jesus Christ arrived in the presence of the Father, He arrived as a conqueror. Not only was Christ crucified openly for all to see (including angels), He descended into Hades to proclaim His victory over Satan and the fallen angels.
The ultimate victory for the Royal Family of God is the Resurrection. Why is it such a fantastic victory? It is because it includes winners and losers, positive and negative believers. Just because certain believers fail to execute the protocol plan of God, due to the grace of God, they are not excluded from the Resurrection. The Resurrection makes no distinction between winners and losers.
It’s not our victory! This should be obvious for mature believers, having already had an experiential victory of becoming an invisible hero. But this is the Lord’s victory of grace, since resurrection applies to all believers alike. No distinction is made between winners and losers. So the phrase, “Death has been swallowed up because of victory,” is very important. Man has absolutely nothing to do with receiving a resurrection body. No merit, no distinction is involved.
Resurrection is a divine victory. Death has been “swallowed up” and destroyed because of Christ’s resurrection! There will be no death in eternity for believers. Death is abolished with the possession of the resurrection body. The sign of Christ’s strategic victory over Satan was His resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of the Father. Our resurrection body is an eternal memorial to the grace of God. This is the true meaning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for you and me!
Verses 16-17 shows us the application of the victory of the Cross to experience. You’ll recall the legalism associated with the Jewish religious leaders. They were constantly misapplying the Law of Moses and adding their own traditions and taboos from Judaism. They were always trying to trap Jesus and His disciples by these misapplications. Paul points out in these verses that the Law of Christ is not a system of legalism but of grace and freedom.
The Greek word for judging mentioned here really means the evaluation of other people that intrudes upon their privacy. The weak or legalistic believer is the chief source of judging other believers who function under grace. The grace-oriented believer does not judge the legalist or anyone else. (Matthew 7:1-5; Roman 14:4,10) The ones who do the judging are most often reversionistic and guilty of the worst type of legalism: meddling in the affairs of other believers, trying to run others’ lives, trying to put them into their own mold of taboos and promoting pseudo-spirituality.
What goes into the mouth by way of eating or drinking regarding the observation of ritual days were practices of legalists who attempted to force their ideas on others. By pointing out others’ lack of observation of certain Jewish taboos, legalists attempted to make themselves look “holy,” when in reality they were living contrary to the Law of Christ and grace.
The food prohibitions that existed in the time of Israel were taken over by the legalists of Paul’s day and distorted into a system of pseudo-spirituality. Those believers who had a trend toward asceticism (the practice of self-denial or abstaining) distorted eating and drinking, or a lack of eating and drinking, into a system of self-righteousness. If you have a trend toward asceticism, you will promote fasting, thinking that somehow fasting brings you closer to God. They erroneously assume that if you observe food taboos it makes you spiritual. Adhering to food taboos causes them to judge believers who violate their taboos. As a result of this, they practice a form of reversionism which rejects Bible doctrine and replaces it with inconsequential things like food taboos. It is not what food that goes into the mouth, rather it is the spiritual food that goes into the soul that counts. Our passage is dealing not with whether you should or should not eat certain foods and drink alcohol, but the fact that we are not to judge other people.
We have another area of prejudice having to do with observing ritual days. The rituals of Leviticus 23 were bona fide teaching functions of Israel in anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ. These feasts were designed with one thing in mind, to teach the coming of Jesus Christ. Therefore they belong to the worship of the Jews as a genuine function of worship under the Law. The observation of these rituals was a proper function in the previous dispensation of Israel. However, these rituals have been fulfilled. Therefore at the Cross these rituals were replaced by the reality, Jesus Christ. So to continue observing rituals is a form of reversionism.
There is no spiritual growth which can be attached to observing these rituals today. We learn many things from studying them in the Scriptures, but to practice them is legalism, reversionism and religion. In the Church Age the rituals are to be studied but not to be observed. There is no substitute for Bible doctrine in the Christian life.
There is another category mentioned in this verse which is holy days. Originally for example, the Sabbath was the seventh day of the week, or Saturday. It was a teaching aid for grace in the dispensation of Israel. The Jews rested every Saturday; they did absolutely nothing. By resting one out of every seven days they learned something of the principle of grace, and that was a good way to teach the Jews because some of them were very hard-headed. But doing nothing for a whole day reminded them that you can do nothing for salvation, you can do nothing for spirituality, you can do nothing to gain the blessing of God; God provided it all under grace.
In the Church Age it has all changed. The Sabbath belongs to the Jewish Age and in the Church Age the believer regards every day alike, Romans 14:4-10. The reason is very simple. We now have the completed Canon of Scripture and we no longer need a certain day to remind us of the fact that the plan of God for believers does not involve human good works. The New Testament epistles are a reminder that everything depends on Him, not on our human effort. It is God working in us under the filling of the Holy Spirit that empowers us. The Sabbath teaching aid has been replaced by the reality. The reality is the mystery doctrine of the Church. We have assembly worship on the first day of the week because that was when the early church met.
The substance belongs to Christ in Colossians 2:17 is a reference to the fact that all we have as believers is found within our relationship with Jesus Christ. At the moment of salvation, every believer is indwelt by Jesus Christ for a specific purpose. Christ indwells believers in order to make evident His glory (Christ in you, the hope of glory). This is accomplished in the life of a maturing believer as he exhibits the character of Jesus Christ. Our objective as Christians is to allow God the Father to glorify His Son by pouring out fantastic blessings on us. As we move through the spiritual life on our way to spiritual maturity, our capacity to receive blessing from God increases. This increase in capacity sets up the potential for glorifying Christ. As the indwelling Christ, He provides encouragement, motivation and confidence. (John 14:18-21; Ephesians 3:14-21; Colossians 1:27)
During the Church Age, Jesus Christ permanently indwells the believer, guaranteeing temporal and eternal blessings. It is no longer necessary for Christ to appear in a cloud or as a pillar of fire, since He has revealed Himself in the Person of Jesus. (John 1:1-3; 14:18-21; II Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 3:17)
Jesus Christ indwells the believer in order to glorify Himself in the life of the believer. As with the indwelling of the Father and the Holy Spirit, we must allow Christ to glorify Himself through our lives. We do this as we abide in Him (fellowship) and His Word abides in us. The word for abide in means to dwell within. When Bible doctrine is indwelling you and you are in fellowship with Christ, the potential exists to glorify Him through your life. (John 15:1-14)
The indwelling of Christ also provides motivation for the execution of the Christian Way of Life. Our personal love for Jesus Christ should motivate each of us to do our best to bring glory to Him. The unmotivated life dishonors our Savior and brings shame to us at the Judgment Seat of Christ. (II Corinthians 10:17)
Christ “pours out” His love in our souls as we advance in our spiritual lives. Knowing and understanding the love of God, by means of study and application of Bible doctrine, should be our motivation for serving Him. Spiritual advance will reflect the glory of Christ that dwells within us. (Romans 5:5; II Corinthians 3:17-18)