What Does Forgiveness Look Like?


“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” Colossians 2:13-15


Visual images really help me understand intangible concepts. For instance, what does forgiveness look like? Here in Colossians, Paul gives us four word-pictures:

JESUS RAISED US FROM THE DEAD

“When you were dead … He made you alive.” There’s an invigorating picture for you! It can’t get clearer than that: we were dead in sin – spiritually rotting corpses. But, by the act of forgiveness, we were raised to new life – glorious, eternal, joyful, abundant life!


JESUS CANCELED OUR DEBT

“He canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us.” If every sin you committed generated an IOU (“I owe you”) to God, how much would you owe? I can see the adding machine tape unrolling and unrolling and unrolling as countless sins are recorded for me. The calculations continue to mount up until the debt is astronomical … and it keeps growing. But Jesus takes a humongous stamp wet with red ink and stamps “CANCELED” on the whole thing! Done. Throw it away. The debt is canceled. I am debt-free, now and forever.


JESUS NAILED OUR SIN TO THE CROSS

“He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Imagine Jesus taking your sin, laying it on the rough wood, and raising a heavy mallet with his strong arm. He positions an iron nail on your sin, and then lets the hammer fall. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! Your sin is nailed to the cross. You don’t carry it any more.


JESUS TRIUMPHED OVER EVIL

“When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” Satan and his evil hosts plague us, tempting us constantly to sin. But here, we are reminded that JESUS HAS WON THIS WAR. The enemy has been defeated: utterly, absolutely, and completely. The power of sin is broken, and we are free from its dominion forever.


That is what forgiveness looks like. So, when you feel the Devil whispering in your ear that you are a worthless failure, that you can’t hope to ever be good, that your sin is beyond God’s ability to forgive, remember these images:


YOU ARE ALIVE IN CHRIST

YOUR DEBT IS CANCELED

YOUR SIN IS NAILED TO THE CROSS

YOUR ENEMY IS DEFEATED


Praise to Jesus, our Savior and King!

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