Wiped Clean

Posted on September 5, 2012

Colossians 2:13-14

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus – Robert Lowry (1826-1899)

God’s amazing mercy in washing away our sin through the death & resurrection of Jesus is vividly pictured by the Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:13-14.

You were dead because of your sins … Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. (NLT)

In this passage the Apostle Paul makes one of the most tremendous statements in all of Scripture: “… He forgave all our sins…” The testimony of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ did everything necessary to free us from the consequences and power of sin.

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. The word canceled comes from a Greek word which means to: blot out, rub out, wipe out, wipe off, wipe away, obliterate or erase. The phrase record of charges against us was specifically used to refer to a legal note acknowledging a debt that had to be paid (an I.O.U.). The note was in the handwriting of the debtor.

We are all in debt to God because of our sins (see also Romans 2 & 3). Like the servant in Matthew 18:23-25 who owed his king a massive debt that he could not pay, none of us can possibly pay this debt to God with our own resources. Being spiritually bankrupt, we are totally dependent on God’s grace and mercy – just the things that God is “rich” in! (see Ephesians 2:4).

Central to the gospel message is that Christ has canceled our debt – obliterated it. In the days of the New Testament, documents were written on substances that were costly – papyrus, a kind of paper; or vellum, made from animal skins. The ink that was used was erasable. William Barclay says, “Ancient ink had no acid in it; it lay on the surface of the paper and did not bite into it – as modern ink does. Sometimes a scribe, in order to save paper, used papyrus or vellum that had already been written upon. When he did that, he took a sponge and wiped the old writing out. Because it was only on the surface of the paper or animal skin, the ink could be wiped out as if it had never been.”

God didn’t just cross out the record of charges against us (our debt) – He utterly wiped it out, wiped it clean. I learned from a friend today that a very strong magnet will wipe out the strip on a credit card and obliterate its record. Through the magnet of the cross, God obliterated our sins through Christ.

Robert Lowry was right. The stain of our sin was such that it took nothing less than the solvent of the blood of Jesus Christ to wash it clean. Our debt was itself nailed to the cross with Christ and then buried in the sea of His forgetfulness. [See Psalm 103:12 for a similar concept.]

Paul teaches us in Colossians 3:13 that we are to forgive each other. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” I know of nothing more spiritually constraining or binding than refusing to forgive. If you’re like me you can probably think of someone you need to forgive – or forgive more completely. In honor of Christ, let’s soften our hearts, let go of the resentment, and release ourselves from the prison of un-forgiveness.

— Pastor Rick Mailloux

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