"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." (Colossians 2:13-14)Our death is two fold. It is not just that we have sinned but that we are sinners. It is not just that we do sinful things but that sinfulness is within us. The Old Testament provided for forgiveness, for the blood of bulls and goats was sufficient for that, but it could not change the fact that we were sinners. This would require a much greater sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews says, "For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:13-14)
Many people seek forgiveness but Jesus came to provide us so much more. He came not only to forgive us but to also wash away our sins. After Paul was forgiven by Jesus on the way to Damascus, Ananias said to him, "Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." (Acts 22:16) Paul had been forgiven, but now was the time those sins to be washed away and for him to begin his Christian walk.
It is in baptism that we are united with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection and it is in baptism that our old man is crucified, washed away, and replaced with newness of life. Over the years I have meet many Christians who have been forgiven but who still live with their past sins hanging around them like an old dead albatross. They are forgiven but all they can see are their sins and the things they have done. They are unable to receive what is ahead of them because they are constantly reminded of their past. They need to have their sins washed away so they too can being their new Christian walk. They need the waters of baptism; to be crucified, buried, and raised to newness of life.
As part of His efforts at making us free, Jesus removed the one thing that condemned us and that stood between us and our reconciled relationship with God, that being the Law! The Law is contained in a series of decrees, whose Greek word is the same word from which we get our word dogma. The law states what we must and must not do to be found righteous and by which to approach God. If we do these things, then we do well, if not, however, then the sentence is death.
However, Jesus came to remove the dogma of law, not by canceling it, but by performing it. Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17) Jesus came to fulfill the law that we might no longer live by its standard. He has now called us to live by a new standard; not one of dogma but of love. We no longer need to be worried about obeying or offending the dogma of the law, we simply need to live by love and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, without the law there remains nothing by which to condemn us, We have been given freedom with nothing left to reimprison us but ourselves. The old way of living has been canceled out by the cross and a new way has been inaugurated for us through Jesus' flesh. Let us not fail to find and live that new life.