Colossians 2:11-15 / The Work of Christ

Posted on May 31, 2015


This is the ninth in a verse by verse exposition of the book of Colossians. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the evening of May 31, 2015. This message deals with what the work of Christ means for believers. This post contains an audio recording of the sermon, as well as my sermon notes (sermon notes are not necessarily a complete transcript).


Col. 2:11-15



Paul now expands on the idea of Christ’s sufficiency.

Our Lord has done three things for us: 

  1. spiritual circumcision (vv.11-12), 
  2. forgiveness of sins (vv.13-14),
  3. victory over evil forces (v.15).

Circumcision symbolized man’s need for cleansing of the heart.

  • Deuteronomy 10:16
  • Deuteronomy 30:6
  • Jeremiah 4:4

It was the outward sign of that cleansing of sin that comes by faith in God. At salvation, believers undergo a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh. 

  • Romans 6:6
  • Philippians 3:3
  • Titus 3:5

This is the new birth, the new creation.
Many people then and even now want to trust in their works and their acts of righteousness. A true believer is not just the outward appearance, but in the heart “not by works” 

  • Titus 3:5 
  • Ephesians 2:8-9

The true believer follows Jesus.

  • 1 John 3:24

The true believer would be spiritually circumcised, so that no one would be able to claim a superior spirituality because of their ritualistic acts. The true believer has been cleansed by God, which is the only true cleansing. No work of human hands is sufficient.

To further explain, Christian baptism is the outward counterpart to that experience. It is the means by which it is publicly declared.

Paul then goes on to describe baptism as symbolizing the believer’s participation in the burial and resurrection of Christ.

  • Romans 6:3

Paul makes it clear that baptism is an act of faith, for we are “raised with Him through faith” not by baptism. Baptism is not a literal participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus, but a symbolic one. Baptism, then, is not a magic rite, but an act of obedience in which we confess our faith.

Faith is the cause of that experience, and, apart from true faith in Christ, baptism is an empty, meaningless ceremony.

Paul now assures his readers that in Christ they share the resurrection experience. 
In Christ’s case it was a literal bodily resurrection from the dead. In our case, the death was spiritual (“dead in your sins,” “uncircumcision”), and the being made alive is also spiritual.

Our sin puts us in a state of spiritual death, and earns us literal and eternal death in hell. However, Christ has delivered us from that death.

  • Romans 5:8
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Galatians 4:4

While we were dead in our sins, hanging by a thread, hopeless and helpless, in the nick of time, Christ rescued us. He has forgiven us all our sins.

  • Ephesians 1:7

He has made us alive, and asks us to live for Him.

  • Romans 12:1


Jesus wiped out the record debt that was held against our account. This would be a reference to a handwritten certificate of debt by which a debtor acknowledged his indebtedness. We all owe God a debt we cannot repay, but Jesus payed it all. He wiped our account clean.

He took that certificate of debt and nailed it to the cross! The list of the crimes of a crucified criminal was nailed to the cross with that criminal to declare the violations he was being punished for. In the case of Jesus, believers’ sins were all put to Christ’s account. Nailed to his cross, He paid the penalty for us all, thus satisfying the wrath of God against crimes requiring punishment.


Another element of the work of the cross. It was this work that spelled the ultimate doom of Satan and his followers.

  • Genesis 3:15
  • Hebrews 2:14

Satan and his followers have been disarmed. They have only the power that God allows them to have, but He is in control every step of the way.

To make a public spectacle, triumphing over them”. In Rome, triumphant general would lead a parade of victory. The conqueror, riding at the front in his chariot, leads his troops through the streets of the city. Behind them trails a disgraced company of conquered kings, officers, and soldiers–the spoils of battle.

Christ is the conquering general, and the powers of darkness have been defeated and exposed for what they truly are. This is the victory of Christ, and we are His soldiers!

Posted in: Sermons