CHRIST MADE SIN FOR US
2 Cor 5:21“For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
I. Who was made sin? "Him... who knew no sin". He is not identified by name in this verse. The description given of Him could not refer to a mere mortal, for we are all too personally familiar with sin. This description is ascribable to the divine being alone (Deut 32:4 “[He is] the Rock, his work [is] perfect: for all his ways [are] judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right [is] he.).” The Person here named is of course the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Jesus knew sin intellectually, because as the omniscient God He is, Job 37:16, "perfect in knowledge." But He knew no sin experientially. Through His personal experiences He, “knew no sin.” For example:
1. He "knew no sin" in His character, Heb 7:26, for "He is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." This is true because He never had the taint or guilt of original sin as in Rom 5:12, “.. so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”.
Jesus was unique in himself. Death as a consequence of sin did not pass to Him! It was impossible that he could die as mortals do, but he could voluntarily lay down his life for us at Calvary and take it up again! Joh 19:11 “Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power [at all] against me, except it were given thee from above:....” Joh 10:17 “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
This is true also because He was conceived miraculously in the womb of a virgin by the Holy Spirit, and to whom God promised, Luke 1:35 “that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God;”
Contrast Psa 51:5 in which David described his natural birth, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” This was true of David and every other person but NOT true of Jesus. He is the only person born of woman of whom it is said "in Him is no sin" (1 John 3:5).
2. He "knew no sin" in His conduct, 1 Pet 2:22 “Who did no sin, neither was guile (deviousness) found in his mouth.” Jesus never sinned in deed, word, or thought. He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). No one was able to answer His challenge, "Which of you convinces Me of sin?" (John 8:46). The Bible says that, He "offered Himself without spot to God" (Heb 9:14). James called Him "the just" one. (James 5:6). The Apostle Peter reveals that Jesus, "suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust" (1 Pet 3:18). He didn’t need to pray like He instructed his disciples to pray, "forgive us our sins." Jesus gave them a model prayer and said at its beginning, “When ye pray, say.”
II. Who made Jesus to become sin? "He made Him ...
to be sin." Again, this One identified in (vv.18-20), is
introduced with "and all things are of God," which is connected to the present text by the conjunctive "for". The One made sin is the God-Man; the One who made Him to become sin is God the Judge of all. God did this with the agreement of Christ, who "offered Himself without spot to God" for this purpose, Heb 9:14.
And referring to Christ our high priest, Heb 7:27 tells us how he is different from the O.T. priests, “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” Jesus was the sinless, innocent, perfect Lamb of God, who was made a sin offering for us lost sinners. John the Baptist said, “behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the World.”
III. For whom was JESUS made sin? "For us". The “us” persons are not identified by name, and we must look at the context (2 Cor 5:14-20) to learn their identity. They are:
1. all persons in whose place Christ died, and who were spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (v.14): "if One died for all, then were all died";
2. all v 15 “.... they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
3. all whom "God ... has reconciled ... to Himself by Jesus Christ" (v.18). Ro 5:10, “For if, when we were enemies, we
were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
4. all whom God is "not imputing their trespasses unto them" - not charging them with sin (v.19;) Ro 4:8 “Blessed [is] the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
5. all who will obey the command to "be ye reconciled to God" (v.20) - by ceasing their rebellion against Him;
6. all who are (2 Co 5:17) “...in Christ, .... a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
IV. What is the "sin" JESUS was made to be?
1. He was not made to be a "sin offering", for his own sins because he had none. Such an offering to God for sins against Him, was made by the O.T. priest as the means of obtaining atonement for them; after which he could offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. (Lev 4:1-5:13; 6:24-30). It is true that Christ was an "offering for sin" (Isa 53:10) and a "sacrifice for sins" (Heb 10:12). But that is not the same as being made a sin offering.
2. He is not said here to have been made a "sinner". However, on Calvary "He was numbered with the transgressors" (Isa 53:12) - with murderers, adulterers, blasphemers, and even the chief of sinners. It is also true that on Calvary He was the sinner's substitute (hanging before God in the place of sinners), and that He spoke in the words of a sinner, Psa 22:1 “why art thou so far from helping me?”; and that He was treated by God as a sinner, Isa 53:4
“we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” But never was He a sinner actually or morally. Rather, He was made to be something worse.
3. He was here made to be sin itself - the opposite of the righteousness which he was! What a change then, the righteous became, was made, unrighteous. Sin is what Christ was made to become because of His relationship with God's elect being put to death for them. Righteous is what God's elect become because of their relationship with Christ because He conquered death, hell and the grave.
V. In what manner was JESUS "made" sin? (The words "to be" are italicized in our English Bible. This means they were not in the original Greek text, but added by translators in order that the text might be more easily understood.)
1. He was not "transformed into sin" - This would have been impossible.
2. He was not "merely considered as sin" - as though He was treated as something He actually was not. No, Christ was "made sin" even though "He knew no sin." And "He knew no sin" even when "He was made sin."
3. He was not "infused with sin" - as though God instilled or inculcated the principle or quality of sin into Christ. 4. He was not "merely charged with sin" or "merely accounted as sin" - as the result of sin being imputed to Him. When Scripture speaks of imputation, it is in the context of something believers receive, not Christ:
righteousness is imputed to believers (as in Rom 4:11, 23, 24), and sin is not imputed to them (as in Rom 4:8; 2 Cor 5:19).
But never do the Scriptures declare that sin was imputed to Christ. Rather, Christ was made sin, and consequently He was "declared to be sin" and "sin was charged to His account." Therefore, this text does not emphasize a mere legal declaration that was expressed, but rather a real action or transaction that was performed by the Almighty.
5. He was "made sin" in the sense that something actually happened to Him. The Greek verb (poieo) is the same verb used when we read "Jesus ... made the water wine" (John 4:46). When this occurred, the water was not merely considered like wine, or merely declared to be wine. Rather, something actually happened to the water that caused it to be made, to become wine, and the wine was indeed wine (water remained as part of its substance).
In the same sense, something actually happened to the sinless One that caused Him to be made sin, and the sin was indeed sin (although the virtue of sinlessness remained in His person). All the sins of God's elect were gathered together into one load, and that load of sin was by God "laid on Him" (not merely imputed to Him), so that "He bore the sin of many" in such a way as to be identified as one mass of sin (Isa 53:6, 12).
God therefore had to deal with Christ as He must deal with sin . Jesus knew everything. He knew what Isaiah wrote about the travail of his soul in his approaching death, in Isa
53:11 “He (God) shall see of the travail of his (Jesus) soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant (Jesus) justify many; for he (Jesus) shall bear their iniquities.” Jesus anticipated this when, on the night before His death, he prayed, Lu 22:42 “... Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
In the Messianic Psalm 22, we read, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? [why art thou so] far from helping me, [and from] the words of my roaring?” Christ knew that these words were prophetic of Him. Christ knew as it says about God in Habakkuk 1:13 “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” Therefore, God turned his face away when His Son was made an offering for sin. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Surely Christ knew what it was to be MADE SIN better than we know what it is to have been MADE righteousness!
VI. What resulted from JESUS being made sin? "We ... become the righteousness of God in Him." The sense therefore is not that something merely happened to us, but rather that we are actually brought into an existence as something new (v.17): 2Co 5:17 “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature
(creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And don’t you forget it, amen!
In Php 3:8-9 Paul exclaimed this about the joy of salvation in Christ compared to counting but dung his Jewish pedigree, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, 9 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
Tis done, tis done, the great transactions done, I am my Lord’s and He is mine.
And this new creation in Christ which I am, which you are who are in Christ, bears this name: "Jehovah Our Righteousness" (Jer 23:6 with 33:16).
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