A Study of 2nd Corinthians 5:21
The Scriptures declare that Christ had no sin and he “knew no sin”, yet the Scriptures also say that he was “made sin” in 2nd Corinthians 5:21.
What does this mean?
“For He” – that is the Father, “hath made him (Christ Jesus the Lord) “[to be] sin, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
So the question is not “was Christ made sin?” because indeed He was. There can be no argument or debate about this. But the question is – how, or in what way?
And how sad it is that in our day some sincere, but yet sincerely deceived men are going crazy with this verse, abusing this one word “made” and actually teaching that Christ, the immaculate, impeccable, Son of God was contaminated or corrupted in His very being with inbred sin.
Inbred sin is what is passed by conception and natural generation from Adam to all his posterity. It is what man is by nature – sin – or rather, a sinful being!
Was this somehow put into Christ?
Was Christ somehow turned into what we are by nature?
Was the Lord Jesus Christ “made” to be contaminated with sin?
Was He “made” as sinful as you an I in His very being?
Absolutely not and what utter blasphemy for men to suggest such a thing!
Christ Jesus was not contaminated or corrupted with inbred sin. He was “made sin”.
Well the context on 2nd Corinthians 5 makes it very clear, especially in verse 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.”
(2 Corinthians 5:19)
God was not charging them with their sin!
If God did not charge His people with their sins, to whom did he charge them?
Well ofcourse, He imputed them to Christ!
And this is the context of 2nd Corinthians 5…reconcilation…satisfaction…substitution…by imputation!
Christ became fully responsible for all the sins of God’s people by a divine act of imputation.
And so when we arrive at verse 21, this becomes clear. The Father “made Him [to be] sin for us” (charging, accounting our sins to Christ), “who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (accounting, charging Christ’s righteousness to us).
Now, these sins were not shot into Him, they were not infused or imparted into Him and certainly Christ was not turned into a sinful, contaminated, defiled man as some men are teaching. Perish the thought!
Thse sins were legally laid to His account. This does not mean that His death was only a legal transaction. His death was a real death. Because of sin laid upon Him, as our sin bearer and the Word of God uses such language in Isaiah 53 where we read “the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Christ had to actually experience all of the sorrow, all of the pain, and all of the suffering in His human body and soul that sin deserves.
He called them His sins in Psalm 22 and Psalm 69, even refering to Himself as one who was unjust and guilty, and cursed of God. And that is all true, but it was all based upon sin charged to his account.
In the person of Christ, the only mediator between God and man, who took the place of His sheep, who went to the cross of calvary for their sins and died that death, that complete finished death that satisfied the justice of God, He suffered the equivalent of an eternity in hell for His people. He suffered in agony like no person has ever suffered.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
We finishing by echoing the very sentiments of James Popham in the Gospel Standard magazine many years ago:
This glorious gospel, is the gospel of the imputation of sin to a suitable sinless person, the Saviour.
In this epistle it is said, God “hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew not sin.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
There was a complete transference, a mutual transference; the transferring of guilt to the Saviour, and the transferring of His righteousness to the sinner; “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
Take this out of the gospel and what is there left that is worth notice?
Take this out of the gospel and how could a wretch who feels his wretchedness in sin have any hope in the mercy of God?
Such is a terrible gospel; no gospel at all if imputation is taken away.
Eliminate this doctrine of the imputation of sin to Christ, and the imputation of righteousness to the sinner, and we are all as good as in hell; there is nothing for us but perdition.
When a sinner, brought by the Spirit of God into solemn and deep despair of himself and of his own righteousness, looks on the Lord Jesus, and adoringly and wonderingly believes in the imputation that removes from himself all sin and brings to him nothing but righteousness, he is complete in Christ. That is the gospel word.
“And ye are complete in Him.” (Colossians 2:10)
Completely justified and completely saved.
If this but shines into our hearts what a happy people we shall be!