“having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
We come to the seventh result of the work of Christ on the cross: “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us.” Jesus destroyed the demands of the law against us.
“having wiped out the handwriting of requirements”
The previous verse stated that God forgave us (Col 2:13). When he forgave, God canceled the judgment in his written law against us (Romans 3:19).
“Wiped out” means to erase, obliterate. The idea is to wipe by rubbing. This word is intense in the original because it is a compound of two words: to wipe and off. God wipes out several things in the New Testament: Acts 3:19 (sins); Rev 3:5 (not wipe out name in a book); Rev 7:17 (tears). Here God wipes out the list of charges against us. God not only forgives our sin, but he blots out the record of it. Not only is the handwriting erased, but God removed the document itself.
Writing outside the New Testament used “handwriting” to post public debt. Secular Greek used it primarily for a record of financial accounts. The culture of that time gave particular emphasis to the handwritten nature of the document. “Handwriting of requirements” was a note signed by hand by a debtor acknowledging his indebtedness. It is what we call an IOU. It was a record of debts of our nature and acts of sin we signed with our handwriting. Jesus canceled the record or history of these debts to God.
People in the first century used “handwriting” almost exclusively for the autograph on a promissory note. This word frequently occurs in Roman law. It was a signed admission of liability. Our sins pile up as a vast list of debts to God, making it abundantly clear that we are liable before God.
“Requirements” carry the ideas of edict, ordinance, decision, formalized rule (or set of rules) prescribing what people must do. This posting of requirements refers to the Mosaic law. The law has a certificate of requirements that puts us in debt to God. This certificate is God’s public charge against us; it is his list of directives against personal sin. God must stand resolved against us because he cannot contradict his own essence and standards. Therefore, God’s law demands perfection.
“that was against us”
Koine or biblical Greek used “against us” for that which is contrary to persons. Because God is perfect, every standard he holds is a testimony against us. The commandments of the Old Testament and our moral nature testify against us.
We face the total hopeless debt of God’s righteousness. We owe God sinlessness. We can not possibly pay that debt. We do not have the personal resources to do it. We are up to our hocks in debt. We must welsh on the deficit in our human efforts because we cannot pay the debt entirely. Because of this, God placed an IOU against us. The beauty of Christianity is Jesus canceled our debt for us. Jesus personally paid off our debt; he withdrew our IOU to God.
“which was contrary to us”
“Contrary to:” set over against, set against, opposite, of enemies in battle, opposed, opposite. God always defines righteousness in terms of his own perfection. Because we cannot live up to the law’s standard, it works against us and opposes us (Romans 4:15; 5:20; 1 Corinthians 15:56; Galatians 3:23).
The law is like a taskmaster. The law threatens us with penalties and pain. It puts us in bondage, and it does not give us the power to live up to its standards.
God canceled the mountain of debt (the law) against us by the cross.
The law demands perfection, but we cannot live up to it. God demands absolute righteousness because he is absolute righteousness. None of us can pay that price. We cannot produce God’s righteousness in our lives (Romans 3:10f). The law proves we are sinful. Therefore, the law drives us to Christ as our only hope (Galatians 3:13). The law says, “You shall not.” Something says within us, “I shall.” The assertion that “I cannot” makes me want to do it. There is an ingrained rebellion in all our hearts. If we see a sign that says, “Do not spit on the sidewalk,” our salivary glands immediately begin to work. If the sign says, “Do not touch the wet paint,” we want to touch the paint to see if it is genuinely wet. The law provokes the very thing it forbids (Romans 8:3).
Jesus came to take away the charge of the law against us. He not only took away the charge, but he put a new heart within us. Jesus completely, eternally, and adequately settled the law issue by the cross. Grace is effectual where the law fails.
There is a self-confessed indictment against us, which we sign in agreement. We stand bankrupt before the law. God wiped out that list of charges against us. Jesus met the perfect demands of God’s holiness. God has banished the record of our sins. This banishment is positional, judicial, and forensic vindication before God. Have you personally accepted Christ’s work on the cross to give you perfect forgiveness before God forever?