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Read Introduction to Colossians


“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.”


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”

When God forgave us (verse 13), he canceled the judgment in God’s written law against us (Romans 3:19).

“Wiped out” means to erase, obliterate. This is an intense word in the original because it is a compound word. God wipes out several things in the New Testament: Acts 3:19 (sins); Revelation 3:5 (name in a book);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 the document itself is removed.

The word “handwriting” was used in writing outside the New Testament for the posting of public debt. It was especially used for a record of financial accounts. Special emphasis was given to the handwritten nature of the document. This is a note hand signed by a debtor acknowledging his indebtedness. It is what we call an IOU. It was a record of debts we signed with our own handwriting. Jesus canceled the record of these debts to God.

“Handwriting” is used almost exclusively for the autograph on a promissory note. This word frequently occurs in Roman law. It is 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:” decree, ordinance, decision, command, a formalized rule (or set of rules) prescribing what people must do. The law has a certificate of requirements that puts us in debt to God. This is God’s public opinion against us; it is his list of charges against our sin. This is the Mosaic law. God must stand resolved against us because he cannot contradict his own essence and standards. Therefore, the law demands perfection.

“that was against us”

“Against us:” opposite to, is used of that which is contrary to persons. The commandments of the Old Testament and our moral nature testify against us. Because God is perfect, every standard he holds is a testimony against us.

We face the totally hopeless IOU of God’s righteousness. We owe God sinlessness. We could not possibly pay this debt. We do not have the personal resources. We are up to our hocks in debt. We must welsh on the debt because we cannot pay. Because of this, there was an IOU out against us. The beauty of Christianity is Jesus canceled our debt for us. Jesus personally paid off our debts.

“which was contrary to us”

“Contrary to:” set over against, meeting, set against, opposite, of enemies in battle, opposed, opposite. 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). God always defines righteousness in terms of his own perfection.

The law is like a taskmaster. It puts us in bondage, but it does not give us the power to live up to the standards of the law. The law threatens us with penalty and pain.


God canceled our IOU (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 inveterate 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 truly 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. Grace is effective where the law fails. Jesus completely, eternally, and adequately settled the issue of the law by the cross.

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 is positional, judicial, forensic vindication before God. Have you personally accepted Christ’s work on the cross to give you perfect forgiveness before God forever?