It looks as if the Colossians had an unhealthy interest in the spiritual powers of the kingdom of darkness. In a sense, this is not surprising because the signs of its existence were all around them and they had to live amid all the various pressures that were caused by the presence of spiritually-hostile forces. It is the same for us today as we live in a society that becoming increasingly tolerant of various ways of life. So what was Paul’s assessment of these unfriendly and intimidating powers? His answer may surprise us, but it was, ‘They have all been defeated by Jesus at the cross.’
Paul takes us back to the cross and enables us to look at it clearly. Just as he asked us in the previous verse to observe what was written above the cross, so now he asks us to observe who is naked at the cross. Physically, it was Jesus who had been stripped of his clothes and nailed naked to the cross. But Paul tells us to look closer and observe that the crucified Christ actually stripped the hostile rulers and authorities of their power. They came to the cross armed to the teeth, determined to destroy Jesus, but discovered that they had been totally weakened because Jesus deprived them of their powerful weapons. Their weapons included demanding punishment for those who had broken God’s law, but such a demand is powerless once the penalty was paid by Jesus.
Yet the victory is only remembered when we look constantly to the Lord. If we take our eyes of him, we will resort to various schemes for overcoming spiritual opponents, and these schemes will not work. The path of triumph for Christians is the same path as Jesus had, his cross. As we look at the cross, we see that instead of being overcome by his enemies Jesus defeated them. So when they attack us by accusing us of our sins, we should respond by saying they were dealt with by what Jesus did at the cross. God the Father knew all the sins that we would commit, but he also knew that the atoning death of his Son was more than sufficient to pay our penalty. But in order to have an ongoing sense of this blessing, we have to focus on Jesus on the cross.