Christ Became Sin for Us
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 scripture says, “God made him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” What does this mean? To answer that, it is important to understand that the text is not saying Christ became sinful. Christ lived a sinless life and died a sinless sacrifice. This is often the mistake that many Christians make in their understanding of the atonement. I have heard it said that God took our sin and placed it on Christ, that he took our sin upon him. In one sense that is true; however, in another sense that is not true. But first, we need to understand what sin is. According to the catechism our children have been going through, question #30 asks: “What is sin?” Answer: “Sin is any transgression of the law of God.” Then question #31 asks: “What is meant by transgression?” Answer: “Doing what God forbids.” Thus, when we talk about sin, we are talking about actions, behavior. We are not talking about a substance. Sin is not something you can handle with your hands or put in your pockets or place on the shoulders of someone else. Thus, God did not take our sins and give them to Jesus or set them on Jesus. Jesus did not come into possession of our sins. Then what does 2 Corinthians 5:21 mean that “God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us”? It means Jesus was imputed with our sins, which is another way of saying he was credited with our sins. He was credited or imputed with the guilt of our sins. In other words, God made Christ to be the object of his wrath toward sin for us. Christ was treated as though he was sinful on our behalf. He took the penalty for our sins. He absorbed the wrath and anger of God the Father on behalf of those for whom he died. In Romans 5:8 the apostle Paul puts it this way, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He stood in the place of sinners. We are the ones who should have been hanging on that cross with God the Father directing his anger and fury at us. Christ moves us out of the way and steps into our place. Christ who knew no sin became sin for us. This wonderful truth should compel us to love Christ more and want to serve and glorify him more in our lives.
*This post was adopted from a sermon delivered on November 22, 2020.
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