A Study of 2nd Corinthians 5:21
Today, and it has happened in the past aswell, “there is nothing new under the sun” there are men who are speculating and extravalating and going in all kinds of different directions on this subject which they cannot back up with the Scriptures. And many of them, they want to say “well it was by more than what it says”.
Christ was made sin by a legal act of imputation. This word imputation means is a “charging to the account of”. Many in our day know something about “charging”, our generation ought to know this very well. In other words when you run up a debt, and it’s charged to yur account. Such as if you owed a debt, you borrowed money from a bank. On your account there is a charge for the amount that you owe. It is imputed/charged to you. That is what imputation is.
Well, in Adam and also because of our own sin we have run up a debt, a debt that we cannot pay. A legal debt of sin.
What do we owe God?
We owe him a debt to His law and justice. That is how we were when we fell in Adam and in our own sins. And we didn’t have one penny to pay that debt. We are by nature, spiritually bankrupt and that debt has to be paid.
God cannot and will not just say “well, forget about the debt.”
Do you know why?
Because He is just!
So what did God do with the debt of His people?
He charged it, imputed it, accounted it to Christ.
Now Christ did not commit those sins. He didn’t fall, Adam fell. He didn’t sin.
“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.”
(2nd Corinthians 5:21)
The “knew no sin” goes back, not to us, but to Him…the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ did no sin, He knew no sin, He was not contaminated in His nature with sin.
In fact, he was not contaminated in either of His natures. Christ has two natures – Deity and humanity – BOTH without sin.
The bible says He “was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Everything that He did was perfect.
Everything He experienced in Himself was perfection.
He was not a sinner and He was never, ever, ever made to be sinful as some men are teaching and such men as these are playing with fire.
There are people that say just charging the sin of God’s elect to Christ is not enough, they call it “mere imputation” as if imputation were some form of legal fiction. This is the same charge made by Roman Catholics in times past towards the blessed doctrine of imputation.
It is absolutely true that the charge of sin to Christ demanded that He experience in His soul. Isaiah calls it the suffering of His soul. He has to experience within Himself the full punishment, the full pain and sorrow and death and hell of sin. He cried on the cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).
He suffered in agony like no person has ever suffered. And so yes His experience on the cross was more than just a legal transfer of sin to Him on account of those.
Yes He had to suffer, He had to bleed, He had to die, He really died. It wasn’t a fake death. God wasn’t playing make believe on the cross. He really died. Everything that death is, He experienced, but He was never in His mind, in His affections, in His will, in His heart, in His thoughts, in His attitude he was never contaminated with sin or made a sinner.
His nature was never made corrupt. He was not infused with sin or imparted with sin. He was never contaminated or corrupted in anyway in His nature with sin.
He remained sinless. The whole old testament teaches that truth. When the priest brought in a lamb or a ram or bullock – when the people laid their hands upon the head of that lamb that was a type or picture of this legal imputation showing that he identified with the lamb and the lamb identified with him in his sin.
There was no infusion or impartation of sin to that animal. That animal remained innocent, and it was a spotless lamb. It was a lamb of the first year. God said “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Exodus 12:13).
Christ’s blood was without corruption because of the incorruptable blood of Christ. That means it cannot be corrupted. So no, He was never made sinful. If ever you hear preachers say that you need to get away from it, it is of the highest blasphemy to say that Christ, the perfect, spotless lamb of God was contaminated with sin. That is Heresy.
The reason many say that is because they say “well if He didn’t become exactly what I am then it is not real.”
Well, in answer to this, let us be very clear.
When God charges sin to any person it is REAL.
David said, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Psalm 130:3).
When sin is imputed the books of God’s law and justice, it’s real it’s no legal fiction, that’s what the Catholic church used to call the doctrine of imputation, a legal fiction. And they would say well it’s real until it’s actually infused into you or if it’s imparted into you and that’s heresy.
Christ was never made sinful, he was never contaminated by the sins of His people.
Christ was made sin by a legal act of imputation and there is a beatiful illustration of that in in the book of Philemon. Philemon was a man on Colossi, a wealthy man, who had a servant who stole from him and ran away and by the providence of God ended up in the presence of the apostle Paul in Rome. And Paul took him in and preached the gospel to him and God converted him. This man was born again, his name was Onisimus. And so Paul wrote Philemon a letter telling him of that experience of how Onisimus is now our brother in Christ and asked him “to receive him as you would me” (cite verse) He has repented of His sin and he’s fallen at the feet of Christ, and then Paul makes this statement in verse 18:
If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account.
Paul said “put that on my account, I will repay it!”
That’s what this means. If we contrast this beatiful passage of Scripture with 2nd Corinthians 5:21 we see the wonderful truth of substitution.
We see here the other side of the equation – “he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
And just priot to this we read:
2 Corinthians 5:19
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
And thus we see clearly that God, here in 2nd Corinthians is speaking of imputation!
As Christ was legally accounted with our sin, in exchange all for whom He died and was buried and rose again the third day are legally accounted with His righteousness so that Christ went to the cross for sins which He played no part in commiting, but for sins imputed to Him.
His sheep, His church, God’s elect are saved, justified and will be glorified based on a righteousness that we have no part in producing. It’s totally the obedience unto death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The believer’s only righteousness before God is Christ’s righteousness imputed. It’s not infused into them, it’s not imparted into them it’s legally accounted to them.