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Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 41
The Cross Abolished all Legalism
Colossians 2:14 – 4:18
Now we pray that as we labour, the Lord will continue to open hearts and lives. If you could just hear people tell us how they are learning, and how the Lord is just opening their eyes. But we don’t take any credit for that, because that’s the Lord’s doing. You’ve heard me say that as I pray, I ask the Lord to give me Lydias today, whether they’re men or women, boys or girls, because, like Lydia, the Lord must open your heart before you can understand.
Now we’ll begin with Colossians 2:14 today, but we’ll read the previous verse. I’ve said so often that Paul only writes to believers, and the whole purpose is if we can equip the believer with right thinking, then you’re going to go out and share it with others. Now I maintain that this is why most Christians are scared to death to open their mouth. They’re afraid that if someone comes right back and asks them a question they can’t answer it, then they’re embarrassed. So this is the whole idea of teaching, to become skilled.
Don’t just take it in like the Dead Sea. See the Dead Sea is dead because all does is take beautiful fresh water in from the north from the Jordan River. But as soon as it reaches the Dead Sea, it can’t go any further, so it becomes dead. So the fresh part of the water evaporates, and all the other stuff is left behind. Well it’s the same way with Christians. If all you do is take it in without ever giving it out, then you’re going to be a stale Christian. So learn to use the Scriptures even if you don’t know all of them. You know these people that come to your door, aren’t you aware of what Scriptures they’re going to use? And they know how to use them, and that’s why they can hook so many people. Well you be the same way, only get it right when you share. Then you can have the thrill of winning someone to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I might add there’s no greater thrill. Now for our study.
“And you, being dead in your sins (in the old Adamic part of us) and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (in other words, Paul is writing primarily to Gentiles) hath he quickened (or made alive, and brought us out of that Spiritual deadness) together with him,…” We were crucified with Him, we were in the tomb with Him, and we’re resurrected with Him. Identification is the whole concept of Scripture. That as He died, we died, as He was buried, we were buried, and as He was raised in resurrection power so are we raised. So this is exactly what Paul is putting together. Now to continue the verse.
“…having forgiven you all trespasses;”
Now that’s hard for people to swallow. Yet every sin of every person that ever lived was forgiven by virtue of that work of the cross. Hebrews says that Christ tasted death, not just for believers, but for how many? For every man. Yes a Hitler, or Stalin, or any of the other horrible persons that have gone across the stage of human history, he tasted death for every one of them. And why couldn’t they cash in? Because they never believed it! And so this is the problem with the human race even right around us where ever we live. It’s all been done, but they will not appropriate it by faith, and that’s what we have to do. Take it by faith. Now verse 14, and here we’ll get into the meat of this 30 minute study anyway. This is one of my favorite verses, because I’m always separating Law and Grace. You’re not under the Law, you’re not under the Ten Commandments, but rather under Grace. Look what this verse says.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances (rules and regulations) that was against us, which was contrary to us,…”
Now stop for a moment. What is the first thing that happens to the human make up and especially when they’re young when you say, “You can’t do that.” What’s the first thought that comes into their minds? Why not? You know I’ve used the illustration over and over, you put a wet paint sign on the wall, and 99 out of 100 people that walk by it are going to say, “I’ve got to find out.” Isn’t that right? All right now that’s what the Law did. Just as soon as the Law said, “Thou shalt not steal,” what’s the first human reaction? Well why not? Now the Law was against us, it was contrary to us.
“… and took it out of the way, (and how did He do away with it? By) nailing it to the cross.”
Now isn’t that plain language? Now I’m always teaching that when the Lord gave Moses those Ten Commandments, He put them on tables of stone. Moses brings them down to the nation of Israel, that is after he wrecked the first set, and got the second one. Any how he brings them to Israel, and you’ve heard me put it this way more than once, “they were strictly on tables of cold stone. Those Ten Commandments had no power whatsoever, and all they could do was point the finger of condemnation.” Condemn was all they could, and so from God’s point of view, yes it was perfect, it was the perfect constitution for human living all wrapped up in those Ten Commandments. But for man to keep them it was weak and fleshly, because it was contrary to human nature, and they had no power to help us keep them. So consequently what happened to Israel under the Law? Oh they failed miserably over and over. I think maybe that’s why they were prone to fall into pagan worship, because that was easy compared to keeping the Law. Keeping those Ten Commandments was severe, it was a tough go because it was so demanding, and commanding.
Now along comes to work of the cross, and this will be a good time to come back to Romans chapter 3. See this is so hard for the run of the mill Church member to get through their head. Most of them are of the thinking that if I keep the Commandments, if I do the best I can surely God will accept me, and nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I had a young lady just the other night that was almost depressed. She’d had a class of some of her peers for the past two years, and had been using our tapes and herself explaining how we’re not under Law, but rather Grace. Then she asked one of her students about her salvation and where she would spend eternity if she died? Do you know what her answer still was? “Well I’m keeping the Commandments the best I can, and I doing the best I can.” The teaching lady said, “That’s enough to make you scream. How could she be hearing this for two years and still make that statement? She’s heard over and over that it’s by simply believing Paul’s Gospel that Christ died and rose from the dead!”
Well that’s the human race, and unless the Lord does like He did with Lydia, and opens their understanding, that’s what we’re up against. We just sort of beat a concrete wall until the Lord opens their understanding. But here we are in Romans chapter 3, and Paul is telling us exactly how the Law operated. Verse 19.
“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, (sometimes the Law will mean the whole gamut of what we now call Judaism. The civil law, the worship law, and the moral law. The moral Law being the Ten Commandments. That’s the Law he’s talking about here) saith to them who are under the law;”
Now who was under the Law? The Jews were, the nation of Israel. The Gentiles had no contact with Israel’s Ten Commandments. But in the mind of God now, it went beyond Israel, and it didn’t just stop the nation of Israel, but it went to the whole human race.
“…that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world (not just Israel) may become guilty before God.”
And see that’s all the Law can do. It can only point the finger of condemnation whether Jew or Gentile, and it says, “You’re guilty!” The little Book of James written to Jews says, “If you’ve broken one of the Laws, you’re guilty of breaking all of them.” So there’s no way you can win. The Law is something that you can’t beat. We can’t keep from breaking it, and there’s nothing we can do short of what Christ has done, and we’re going to see that in just a moment.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: (and here’s the reason.) for by the law is (not the knowledge of salvation, but rather) the knowledge of sin.”
All the Ten Commandments can do is point the finger of condemnation. It can’t save anybody! But oh, how the world thinks that if they at least try to keep the Ten Commandments, that somehow they’ll merit favor with God. No Way! God never intended the Law to do that, but rather all He intended the Law to do was to show what His mind was concerning human behavior. So human behavior couldn’t be affected by the Law because there was no power of the Holy Spirit behind it. Consequently when Christ went by the way of the cross – now to follow up on that thought come with me on over to chapter 7 here in Romans. This shows what we’ve been talking about that the Law has been nailed to His cross. And this is why it was cold stone, without power to help anybody keep it.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead….”
Now you see you and I can have no connection with Jesus of Nazareth as He walked in Galilee. He told Andrew and Philip that He couldn’t have anything to do with Gentiles until He had been put to death, buried, and raised again. So it’s only the crucified, risen again Christ that you and I now as believers in the Age of Grace can have any union with. The Jesus of Nazareth and His earthly ministry was only to the nation of Israel, it was still under the Law, and now this is why Paul says, “You have become dead to the Law.” It’s a done deal, and we’ll see that in another verse in just a minute, but first let’s finish this verse.
“…that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
We’re to be soul winners after becoming believers. Now let’s keep going in Romans and come on over to chapter 13, and maybe this will nail it to the cross as he says in Colossians 2:14.
“Owe (or defraud) no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”
Now just stop and think a moment. What was the crowning word concerning the work of the cross? What put Christ on the cross? His love! It was His love for lost humanity that drove Him to the cross. And consequently Paul can say, “that love now then is the fulfilling or ending of the Law.” Then Paul goes on to say that he doesn’t give us license to do the things that the Ten Commandment forbids. No, but rather it’s under a whole new economy, now it’s love rather than Law. And if you truly love somebody you won’t want to do the following:
“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not Covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” So once we’ve experienced that love of Christ that was epitomized at the cross, we don’t have to worry about keeping the commandments, as they become secondary. Now verse 10.
“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Do you see how simple all that is? All right now let’s come back quickly to Colossians and maybe this statement of Paul will make a little more sense. As He died on that Roman cross, fulfilling all the demands of those Ten Commandments, and was capping it with love, now to settle the question completely, what does He do with it? He crucifies it, He nails it to His cross. Now we know that the Law as such was an inanimate thing. But Spiritually it certainly wasn’t, and yet when He finished the work of the cross He could say the Law had been nailed to cross in the person of Christ, and what does that mean? It’s dead. It no longer has any power over the human race, because the cross settled it. I don’t know how anybody can over look that. When you nail something to the cross and crucify it, then it’s done! It’s finished, and you can’t continue to say, “Well I’m trying to do the best I can.”
Now don’t misunderstand me, for the unsaved world, those Ten Commandments are still the criteria for behavior, we know that. But once you become a believer the Law means nothing, it’s dead, it’s crucified. You ask, “Does that mean that I can do as I please?” No, Grace is not license. But instead of having the heavy hand of Law keeping me from committing adultery or stealing, now we have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and that indwelling Spirit will never tell a believer to break one of the commandments which of course is part of our whole social structure.
Just stop and think, What if everybody in a society constantly broke all the commandments? What would you have? We’d have anarchy. You wouldn’t have a society, it would be pandemonium. Well the Ten Commandments are still the basic structure of human behavior but the difference is for you and I as believers we’re not under that condemnation that if we’ve broken one, we’ve broken them all. But rather we’re over here under Grace, and the Law has been crucified. It has been set aside, and we are now free! Speaking of being free, let’s just back up a couple of pages to the Book of Galatians for one of my favorite verses. And this is all because we’re not under the Law. I trust that you all understand that Grace is that unmerited favor that was poured out in the term of mercy and compassion and that of course was God’s prerogative.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,…” Now the Law didn’t give anybody liberty. The Law, as I’ve said so often, was severe. Back when it was in full force, if someone broke these Ten Commandments what was the sentence? Death. But since that has now been set aside and nailed to His cross, we now stand in liberty. Total freedom! Then the apostle goes on to say –
“…and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
You’ve been set free, and all the binding power of Satan has been severed, along with all the binding power of the Ten Commandments have been served. I mean, you’ve been set totally free. Then why try to come back under those Ten Commandments and say, “Tie me up again!” And that’s exactly what people do. Enjoy the freedom and the liberty that we have under the Grace of God. Then looking at verse 2 he tells us that as soon as you start doing things tied to legalism or anything you can do in the flesh, then Paul makes this tremendous statement. Now of course circumcision was the big factor back in the Galatian Churches, but it can be anything that you can do in the flesh, I don’t care what it is.
“Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, (or anything else that you can do for salvation) Christ shall profit you nothing.”
And yet this is where most people are putting themselves, as for salvation they say, “Well I’ve got to do this or that.” Boy, I had the most exciting phone call early this morning from a fellow out east, and he had seen it for the first time. He was a pastor he was just elated. He said, “I’ve never seen it before, but now I can see how you separate Law and Grace, and when I did, I just shouted,’ hallelujah’” I knew what kind of a pastor he was as we talked a couple of weeks ago. So I asked him, you mean the Lord has opened your eyes in the past couple of weeks? He said, “Totally!” But oh listen, when people can finally see it, you just wonder why did it take so long? But it’s so evident and so plain.
“For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.”
Now you see since the temple is destroyed, that leaves the whole human race in a dilemma doesn’t it? Because you can’t keep the whole Law unless there is temple worship, sacrifices, and a priesthood., and none of that is available. So when someone says, “I’m going to keep the Ten Commandments for salvation,” they’re barking up the wrong tree, as it just won’t fly. Because there is no way you can keep the whole Law. All the things which pertain to the Law have been aside, and they’re no longer operating, so if it weren’t for Grace, we’d be in a dilemma. But we don’t have to worry about any of that because we are set free, we’re under Grace.