Are you aware that DEATH is the penalty for your activities since your natural birth, simply as a result of being born as a fallen human being, the child of Adam? Not just mortal death, but eternal death – being cut off from the love and life of God for ever.
Even your attempt to clean yourself up, and do right, falls far short of what God needs, because nothing less than absolute sinless perfection is the qualification for Heaven. Who can claim to be sinless? Not me, not you! Nobody at all.
How terrible and tragic! Our dilemma and our fate is so horrific that Jesus our Lord was prepared even to suffer death on the Cross to reverse it.
But the bible gives us another wonderful example of what Jesus did for us: he nailed OUR list of crimes to HIS cross and paid the price of sin!
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 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 Laws contained in the Old Covenant only created a situation in which every person became a law-breaker and nobody could be saved, because nobody could perfectly keep the Law. So it became a list of crimes we had committed and which deserved the death penalty.
In one way, we could see the scroll containing the Law hung around our necks, as a deadly indictment against us, against every living person, because nobody can keep every single one of the laws and requirements.
But also, the phrase “the handwriting of requirements that was against us… He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” also means the list of our crimes for which the penalty is death.
Yet Jesus our Lord died in our place and paid the price.
I want to point out a feature of the Roman crucifixion procedure that is not well known, but it amplifies what Jesus did for us. I rejoice in this! Let me tell you:
When prisoners were jailed after their trial in Roman Judea (and elsewhere presumably) their crimes were handwritten on a sign that was hung on their door. The sign listed the reasons they were being put to death.
This sign was then hung around the prisoner’s neck as they were led away to die.
“On his way to the place of execution, the convict, who was to be crucified, either had a tablet (titulus) hung around his neck or carried it in front of him. The name and guilt of the condemned man were written on it, so that everyone would know what had happened to him. The plaque was then nailed to the top of the cross.” [Source]
By the way, this adds extra meaning to what the Lord said about those who try to turn young, inexperienced and simple-hearted believers away from their faith – he said that it would be preferable for that person if a millstone should be hung round their neck and they should be cast into the sea, rather than face the wrath of God on the last day! (Luke 17:2)
The Handwriting That is Against Us
The sign – a prisoner’s indictment – was subsequently nailed to the cross alongside the prisoner, so that all could see the just punishment that was being meted out on that cross.
Do you recall that when Jesus was put on the cross, the watchers objected to the sign of his crimes, which they wanted to say “He SAID he was the King of the Jews”. But Pilate (who secretly sympathised with Jesus and possibly even believed in him) had it written as “King of the Jews”, so even the sign that was supposed to list his crime/sin of blasphemy was a testimony to the TRUTH. Praise God for his intervention!
Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.” ’ ” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
Our Sins Nailed to his Cross
Thus we can see, hallelujah, that the scroll of the Law [albeit good and godly in itself] having become a death sentence for each and every one of us, Jesus removed its penalty entirely by his death.
This scroll of the Law became the list of our crimes, as we spent time in the dark prison of our former lives, awaiting certain death.
BUT our loving Lord who was sinless and who perfectly obeyed God in every regard, freely agreed to carry those crimes of ours to his crucifixion and – as Colossians says – had them nailed them to his cross.
Freed from Sin – Totally!
We are not JUST forgiven. We are not JUST granted eternal life as a gracious act of mercy from God. We have died to our disobedience, and the ‘handwriting that was against us’ has been removed for ever!
Our sins have been eradicated and REMOVED “as far as the East is from the West” [Psalm 103:11-12]
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving devotion for those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”