Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way…
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY HANDWRITING?
1. Opinions are various; yet all agree in this that something is intended which by force of testimony may prove us guilty before God. Some assert it to be —
(1) The covenant of God with Adam (Genesis 2:17), for this being violated, Adam and his posterity were held guilty of death as by a bond.
(2) The stipulation of the Jews (Exodus 19:7, 8), by which they bound themselves to perfect obedience, by the non-performance of which they might be justly condemned by their own hand.
(3) The remembrance of our sins in the Divine mind and in our own conscience (Isaiah 43:25), by which we are convicted, as by a bond. The Divine law says, "Thou shalt love the Lord," etc. Conscience suggests, "I have not done so, and am, therefore, cursed.
(4) Ceremonial rites which testified to guilt, circumcision to depravity, purifications to the filthiness of sin, sacrifices to the heinousness of guilt.
2. I explain it to mean the moral law binding to perfect obedience and condemning defect, laden with rites as appendages.
II. HOW IS IT AGAINST US?
1. As to the moral law, it is holy, just, and good; nevertheless it has become deadly to us through sin (Romans 7:12, 13), because —
(1) It propounds decrees contrary to human nature (Romans 7:12, 13).
(2) It arraigns, convicts, and brings us in guilty of sin (Romans 3:20).
(3) It denounces against us the sentence of condemnation (Galatians 3:10).
2. As to ordinances, they were contrary, because(1) They were almost infinite as to number, and most burdensome as to observance Hence the appeal, Galatians 5:1.
(2) By their signification and testimony. For although they seemed to promise the destruction of sin, yet there entered into them a confession rather than expiation thereof.
III. HOW IT IS MADE VOID.
1. Universally and sufficiently as it respects God; because by the blood of Christ such satisfaction is made to God that according to His own justice He is engaged to acquit those debtors who flee by faith to the Deliverer.
2. Particularly and efficaciously when it is blotted out from the conscience of those who lay hold of God by faith (Romans 5:1). There is no peace to a man who sees himself overwhelmed in debt and entangled by a bond; but when Christ's deliverance is accepted the soul enters into peace.
3. Notice the beautiful gradation. Not content with telling us we are forgiven, Paul subjoins that the handwriting is blotted out; but lest any should think that it is not so, but that a new charge may be raised, he adds it is "taken out of the way"; and lest it should be thought to be preserved somewhere, and may yet be preferred, he says it is nailed to the Cross, rent in pieces.Conclusion: We learn —
1. From the handwriting.
(1) Since every man through it is guilty of death, how dreadful is the condition of those who trample on the blood by which alone the handwriting can be blotted out. God will require from them the uttermost farthing.
(2) We see the insane pride of those who think they can satisfy God, yea, pay Him more than is due by works of supererogation. But what need then of blotting out the handwriting by the Cross?
2. From its contrariety.
(1) The depravity and corruption of our nature; for at its institution it was friendly and wholesome.
(2) The error of those who would restore ceremonies and rob us of our liberty in Christ.
3. From the abolition.
(1) Since it is deprived of its condemning force we infer that it still retains its directing force, and so we have not a licence to sin but a motive to obey (Luke 1:74, 75).
(2) Since the comfort of a troubled conscience consists in its being blotted out, we must labour to maintain by faith not only that Christ has procured that but that it is blotted out as respects ourselves. A debtor does not consider himself safe until he has seen with his own eyes that his bond is cancelled.
Parallel VersesKJV: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;