What was it that was nailed to the cross? Most Christians would answer “our sins”, while others might say that it was not only our sins, but also our sicknesses.
Well, obviously it was Jesus Himself who was nailed to the cross. And in His body He carried our sins, He became sin, so that we might be the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). He also carried sicknesses in his own body, so that by His wounds we might be healed (1 Pet. 2:24).
But that’s not the whole story. There was also something else that was nailed to the cross, which we often tend to leave out. Let us see what the Apostle Paul has to say about it in Colossians chapter 2:
“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”. (Col. 2:14)
We see clearly that the “handwriting of requirements” was nailed to cross. What is this handwriting of requirements? It is referring to the 10 commandments, that God wrote with his own hands, on tablets of stone.
Just to strengthen this point, let us look at another scripture, found in Ephesians chapter 2. Here Paul says:
14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity [i.e. the law]. (Eph. 2:14-16)
Conclusion: It was the whole law of Moses that was nailed to the cross, including the handwritten 10 commandments and all the additional ordinances. By nailing the law to the cross, Jesus took it out of the way and abolished it, so that we no longer would have to live under it, or relate to God based on it, today.
That Jesus nailed the law, including the 10 commandments, to the cross and abolished it, is still a very controversial statement among many Christians today, in spite of the fact that this is clearly stated in the Bible. They reason, ”We still need the law, or at least the 10 commandments, to make Christians live right”. But why can’t we just accept what the Bible says? The New Testament clearly says that the law was ”against us” (Col. 2:14) and our “enemy” (Eph. 2:15-16). Why would we as Christians want to build our lives upon something that is our enemy?
Do not get me wrong. The Bible emphasizes that the law in itself is righteous and good (Rom. 7:12) However, it has no power whatsoever to transform lives or make anyone righteous. The law was actually never given to any Christian (see Acts 15:1-31, 1 Cor. 9:21-22). It was only given to the Jewish people for a limited time in human history, before Jesus would come and nail the law to the cross and so remove it. He abolished the law by fulfilling it.
The reason God gave the law to the Jewish people for a limited time period, was to demonstrate to all mankind that we all are sinners in need of a Savior. The law was given to point out our sinfulness, so that we all would be aware of our need of a Savior, Jesus Christ (Rm. 3:19).
Preaching the law and the 10 commandments today, is no different than taking a portion of your country’s criminal law and preaching it to people, believing it will change their hearts. Almost every country has laws that say ”you shall not kill” and ”you shall not steal” etc., along with a description of what the punishment will be if we break any of these laws. The laws we have in our countries are (mostly) necessary and good, but they cannot change our hearts. Only Jesus can accomplish that.
When we say “yes” to Jesus, He cleanses our hearts and comes and lives in us. He writes His law of love in our hearts. He transforms us so that we avoid sin; not because of fear of punishment but because He gives us His own righteous nature.
The law of Moses, including the 10 commandments, was nailed to the cross. Let us therefore preach Jesus – not the law – to people and believe that Jesus is able to produce better fruit than the law could ever do. Only Jesus can transform people’s lives, inside out, and bring genuine and lasting change.