It is hard for us to even imagine the value of our souls. Our lives are like a mist, a vapor that passes away very quickly. We tend to barely consider our days or what life is. The Bible tells us that true life is to know God, and we can only know him through Christ. Because of sin, we don’t know God naturally. We think wrongly about ourselves and him. This passage gives us clarity.

First, Paul tells us our natural condition as sinners: “You were dead in your trespasses.” In essence Paul is saying that we are naturally inclined contrary to the will of God. We do nothing sincerely for his glory. Rather, we accumulate “trespasses,” actions from our sinful nature that we are culpable for and face consequences for.

So it is bad news. It is an indictment from God as to the reality of our being. Scripture statements such as “the soul that sins shall die,” and “the wages of sin is death,” are not just warnings of future judgment, they are present depictions of the condition of our soul.

Basically, we are blind to our sin and misery. We know by experience we are sinners and live among sinners. We see death all around us and can’t deny that the world we live in has much suffering and evil in it. We tend to view this in other ways than attributing it to our sinful nature. But God does and warns us we are in need of salvation, and in Christ, gives such a great salvation.

In verse 13, Paul tells Christians that God made you alive with Christ, having forgiven you all your trespasses. Paul then reminds Christians of what they know: the remarkable way God has provided them life and forgiveness of sins. He says, “By cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

The “record of debt” is also translated “handwriting of ordinances.” Paul is conveying to us that all the transgressions we ever commit are not free. They are required of us, much like accumulating monetary debt is. The difference is the consequences are more significant, and we have no means of ever paying or making amends.

Every soul is required by God to keep his law. There is no unrecorded violation of God’s law or anything that is left undone. No matter what a sinner may believe about himself, there is a day coming when the book of his deeds holds him to account before God and God is the recording clerk. God is not a universalist in salvation. He will by no means clear the guilty. There is required an accounting for sin.

Not all are saved. Only through Christ can we be forgiven our sins. The Lord Jesus said on the cross that the debt of sin for his people he paid in full. “It is finished,” are words of immeasurable worth and consolation to Christ’s people. Christians live by this truth; our sins were “nailed to the cross.” 

We have a small window of time to honor Christ for laying down his life for us. We glorify him by acknowledging our complete need of his sacrificial death and being loath to take away from the cross with our own claim to righteousness, or comparing any other benefit in this world to the death of Christ applied to our souls. As Christians, our lives literally are not our own.

In verse 15, Paul adds a statement about evil spiritual beings in a way to magnify the cross of Christ: “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Paul is saying the work of Christ, (his death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven) has disarmed the devil and deceiving spirits. How is this so?

Because the devil is a liar about God. He deceives by convincing God is not good; that God is not really holy. He flatters men through false teachers that men are more righteous than they are. He convinces men to sit in judgment of God. He despairs men of any hope when they have tribulations and distress. The devil’s power is in deceit, blinding the minds and hearts of sinful men.

The cross answers the devil’s deceit. There is free forgiveness for any who come to Christ. God shows his love in the provision of Christ. He shows his holiness in requiring the payment for sin. He shows all in Christ have a hope and future forever no matter what tribulations come now in this world. Christ has died for them, and even more, has risen from the dead.  Nothing can separate his people from him. He rules now and forever. He has made a public spectacle of evil for all to see.