2 Corinthians 5:21
For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
In every age of the world mankind seem to have been conscious to themselves of guilt. Now guilt is universally accompanied with a sense of demerit. The altars have groaned under the victims that were heaped upon them; and the temples have been filled with the most costly perfumes. Men have every given the fruit of their bodies for the sin of their souls. We are new no longer permitted to wander in ignorance, uncertainty, and error, respecting the method of our acceptance with God.
I. Consider THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST AS UPRIGHT AND INNOCENT. Not only was He free from original sin; throughout the whole course of an active and eventful life, He kept Himself unspotted from the world. Immediately before entering upon His public ministry, His innocence was put to a severe trial. But though the words of the text speak only of our Saviour's innocence, we ought not to overlook His high dignity and excellence. He was the everlasting God.
II. ILLUSTRATE THE DOCTRINE OF HIS BEING MADE SIN FOR US. The original word, here rendered sin, is also employed to signify a sin-offering; in which signification it is frequently used in the Septuagint. This phrase is borrowed from the Jewish ritual, of which the sin-offering formed a part. The design of this offering was to take away the guilt of the offerer by the substitution of a victim in his place.
1. That Christ suffered and died in our stead, and consequently expiated our guilt, appears from the nature of His sufferings themselves. Whence proceeded those groans that indicated the agony of His soul? It is impossible to account for this anguish upon the supposition that His sufferings were the same as those of any other man. Many who were thus witnesses for the truth have met death in its most terrible forms with composure, and even with transports of joy. If Christians, then, in such circumstances have triumphed, why did Christ tremble? Not surely because their courage and constancy were greater than His. The causes were completely different. They Suffered from men, who can kill the body but cannot injure the soul. He suffered from God, before whose indignation no created being is able to stand.
2. That Christ suffered in our stead appears from the nature and design of sacrifices. That sacrifices were of a vicarious nature is plain from all the accounts we have of them. The Jewish sacrifices were unquestionably of this nature. But not only were the ancient sacrifices of a vicarious nature — they were instituted as types of Christ, our great High Priest. They must have originated with God, as a proper means of directing the view of men to Him, who was to appear in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Viewed in this light, sacrifices were worthy of God to appoint, and reasonable for man to perform. Since these sacrifices were of a vicarious nature, and since they were also types of Christ, when He offered Himself as a sacrifice upon the Cross, He must have borne the punishment of our sins, and thus have expiated our guilt.
3. That Christ died in our room and stead, appears from the express declarations of Scripture. In Isaiah 53:4, Christ is said to have " borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows"; and in the 12th verse, "He poured out His soul to death, and bore the sins of many."
III. THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE SUBJECT.
1. To the faithful follower of Jesus this subject is full of consolation. His guilt is expiated. Not so the impenitent sinner, who will not come to Christ that he may be saved.
2. From this subject we may learn the dreadful nature of sin.
3. From this subject we may learn the amazing love of God to man.
(John Ramsay, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.