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One of the things I have heard often is the statement that when Jesus was nailed to the cross, the law was nailed to it with him.
This is similar to the statement that because Jesus fulfilled the law, it has been done away with.
These statements are both based on what Shaul (Paul) said in Colossians and what Yeshua said in Matthew, respectively. Both of these statements are also uniformly and completely incorrect.
Today I am only dealing with the statement Shaul made, so let’s actually see what Shaul said was nailed to the cross in Colossians 2:13-14 (from The Complete Jewish Bible):
You were dead because of your sins, that is, because of your “foreskin,’ your old nature. But God made you alive along with the Messiah by forgiving you all your sins. He wiped away the bill of charges against us. Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but he removed it by nailing it to the execution-stake.
Before we discuss what was nailed, we need to first understand the context in which this letter was written. It was written to reinforce the message of the Good News that was first brought to the Colossians by Epaphras. This letter is written by Shaul to Gentile Believers in order to remind them how their faith in Yeshua has saved them from their previous sinful lifestyle, which condemned them to death. Throughout the letter he reminds them of the Good News message that salvation comes through continued faith in Yeshua and continued worship of God. Shaul was, essentially, giving them a pep talk to help them stay the course of faithfully following Torah, believing in God and Yeshua. I believe that all his letters have, in one way or another, a reminder that a legalistic observance of Torah as the means of earning salvation will never work, but faith in Yeshua (while still obeying Torah) is how we are able to overcome our sinful nature and be saved.
Now that we know what the context of this letter is about, we can see that when Shaul was talking about the “bill of charges against us” he meant the sins they had committed. When he says “Because of the regulations” he meant to identify the Torah and God’s commandments; this is also seen in the letter Shaul wrote to the Roman Believers where he stated that the Torah created sin, he meant that because the Torah tells us right from wrong it identifies what is sinful. And in this letter when Shaul refers to the “regulations” that create the bill of charges (or sometimes called “trespasses” in other bibles) against us he is talking about the Torah.
Now for the really important part- what was (and is) being nailed to the execution-stake? It is only the bill of charges; it is our trespasses; it is those specific sins we each have against us. It was (and is) NOT the Torah; it was (and is) not the Law; it was (and is) not anything other than the list of existing sins that stand between those people and God. When we confess our sins, repent and ask forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, those sins- and ONLY those specific, already committed sins- are what get “nailed to the tree.”
In other words, the sins we have already committed are the only things “nailed to the cross.” Nothing else is nailed, especially not sins we commit after those sins were wiped clean.
When we first confirmed our belief in Yeshua, confessed and repented of our sins asking forgiveness in his name, we received that forgiveness. Those existing sins that were listed against us, and only those sins, were nailed to a tree. Everything that happens after that is still valid and against us until we again confess, repent and ask forgiveness in Yeshua’s name. Then that list is “nailed to a tree.”
There are a lot of trees out there with a lot of paper nailed to them.
Yeshua was nailed to an execution-stake once, and that was all that was needed. His death doesn’t save us- it is because of his resurrection that we can find forgiveness through his sacrifice. His resurrection proved that his sacrifice was accepted. As such, each time we sin we need to ask forgiveness because the sins we commit from one forgiveness to another are going to be held against us unless and until we repent.
The only thing that was “nailed to the cross” was the existing list of sins. There has never been a person who didn’t sin after being forgiven; we all are sinners who always will sin. As I often say, we can never be sinless but we can always sin less. And when we sin, we must repent of that sin and ask forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrifice.
The Torah is still valid and the regulations, mitzvot (laws) and instructions regarding the festivals are all still required for any and all people who confess that they worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
What we really need to nail to the cross are the wrongful teachings.