Dead, buried, and risen. This is Jesus’ story—and ours! Paul now graphically reminds us of the fullness we have in Christ (v. 10). Unusually, verse 11 seems to use circumcision as a metaphor for Jesus’ death: His whole body was cut up and stripped naked on the cross. Because we are in Christ, when He died, we died, and when He was buried, we were buried with Him. His subsequent resurrection is our rising to new life. This death won our forgiveness and no one can condemn us any longer (v. 14), not even the devil.
On one level, Jesus’ entire ministry was a battle against Satan, especially His death on the cross. What appeared to be Satan’s great victory was actually his terrible defeat. To illustrate that, Paul selects an image that would be very familiar to his first century readers (v. 15). When a Roman general won a great victory, it was the custom for him to publicly humiliate the enemy army by dragging them, in chains, through the streets of Rome, while the crowd jeered at them. Afterwards, the defeated general would be publicly executed.
This is exactly what Jesus has done with the forces of darkness. By His death and resurrection, our conquering king has stripped from the forces of darkness their dignity and power, and has set His people free.
So do not ever listen to the lies of the defeated foe, who whispers, “You’re not worthy,” or, “God will never forgive you for that”. You have died with Christ. And do not let the devil convince you that death is the end. You have risen with Christ too.
As Martin Luther once wrote,
And though this world, with devils
filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath
willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo,
his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
Count how many times Paul writes “in him” or “in Christ” in these first two chapters. How do you respond to this understanding of all you have in Christ?
What are some of the devil’s lies that can unsettle our faith? How can the truth of verse 15 affect our life and thinking as Christians?