Colossians 2:13-15 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. But God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
Because God raised Jesus from the dead, he gives us new life as well, when we confess our sins and go to him for forgiveness.
Here’s an amazing exercise that makes this truth vivid. I’ve done this with people on retreats in several countries. It requires butcher paper as long as your body, and several colors of markers. If possible, do this with several friends.
- Lie down on the butcher paper and have someone draw the outline of your body using a black marker.
- Using a green marker, write inside the outline of your body any lies that you were told and believed when you were growing up, by your parents or other authority figures. Choose three that still affect you now. Draw a circle around these three.
- Using a red marker, write inside the outline of your body any lies you were told and believed within your closest adult relationships (marriage or intimate friendships). Draw a circle around the three that most impact you now.
- Using a blue marker, write inside the outline of your body any lies you have told yourself. Again, choose the three that most affect you now and draw a circle around them.
- On a piece of paper, copy the nine lies you identified as most significant in your life.
- Using a brown (or black) marker, draw a big cross over the outline of your body (like the cross where Jesus died). One by one, ask God to “nail” these lies to the cross by giving each one to him. Express to him how each one made you feel and the impact it has had on your life. Freely express emotions, contrition, etc.—whatever you feel as you do this.
- Thank Jesus for bearing these lies on the cross when he died for you. Express to Jesus all your feelings in regard to this.
- Thank God the Father for canceling the record of all these lies by nailing them to the cross.
- When you have completed this intimate conversation with Jesus and the Father, return to the paper where you wrote down the nine most significant lies. Below that list, write another expressing the truth in each case. Speak these nine truths out loud, and thank God for them.
- Share these nine lies and the truths God has shown you with a friend. Then tear away the lies and burn them or throw them away. Each morning when you wake up and each evening when you go to sleep for the next ten days, read the truth statements out loud and ask God to make them penetrate and heal your soul. Put them into practice in every way you can. Celebrate the ways these truths bring you new life and hope.
At some retreats, this exercise is followed by a bonfire in which the butcher papers covered with lies are burned as the group worships God with praise songs and prayers. It’s an unforgettable experience!