The Only Way to Shut Up the Devil Is at the Cross
by Whitney Capps
Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col. 2:15).
Living a life unashamed is a hard thing to grab a hold of. I mean, live confident in the work of Jesus? I get that. Forget the mountain of debt I had against God? Live completely free from the guilt and shame of that? So much harder, right? Shame is a stubborn weed that comes back no matter how many times I pull it, you know?
When the devil begins to attack us, it’s best not to argue with him. I've lost quite a few arguments with the devil. I know I have authority over him, but when he starts reading my rap sheet of crimes against God and comparing me to other women, I can get sucked into a “me” spiral. When this starts to happen, the only solution is to take me out of the equation. The only way to shut up the devil is at the Cross.
The church at Colossae knew about having an attacked, vulnerable faith. One of the purposes of Paul’s letter to the Colossians was to firm up their faith and remind them of their confidence in the Cross. In Colossians 2:14-15 (NIV) Paul says, “Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
The only way to shut up the devil is at the Cross.
In the Ancient Near East, agreements and business transactions between two parties were handwritten into formal contracts—not unlike today, but with a few more brush strokes rather than keystrokes. When one party was indebted to another, his name would be written below the agreement. When the debt was satisfied, the name would be scratched out, a line drawn through it, or one would hammer a nail, piercing the name, signifying the debt had been canceled.
In Colossians 2, Paul uses this same idea with the phrase "legal indebtedness." The law of God was the written contract that held us in debt to Him. Sins stacked up, and our charges against Him were incalculable. But through Jesus Christ, God has canceled those charges! Because of the very specific word choice Paul used in verse 14, his audience would have envisioned the nails in Jesus’ hands and feet blotting out the debt we owed God. Every charge against us was nailed to the cross. Our account with Him had been settled. He can forgive us because though we failed to uphold our end of the contract by keeping the law, Jesus paid the price for our crimes against God. We were unable to meet the terms of our agreement with Him.
So, Jesus did that for us by living a perfect, completely sinless life and taking on the shame of our sin by dying a criminal’s death in our place. This is referred to by scholars as expiation. To "expiate" our sin means that Jesus satisfied the legal requirements that God demands of us.
This is the gospel. Our debt is paid! The nails that pierced Him declared us free and clear. What marvelous news! It’s a sweet reminder to combat our shame and guilt. The Cross is the antidote. The Cross sets us free from shame.
Excerpted from Sick of Me by Whitney Capps. Used with permission.
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