The Substitution of One for All
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.

Note —


1. And of whom can this be said, but of Him? There is not one who must not acknowledge with David, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." And if our Saviour had been born, like others, after the flesh, such would have been His state also. But He knew no sin. Though He assumed our nature He did not partake of its corruption. Before His incarnation He was known as the Holy One of Israel; before His birth, He was declared to be a holy thing; and when He was born, He was born "without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin." Thus the Lord created a new thing in the earth. Christ then was born into the world holy, perfectly holy; did He continue so till He left it? The disciple who betrayed Him, confessed that he had betrayed the innocent blood.

2. And this was necessary in order to His being the Saviour of sinners. If He had once sinned, His obedience would not have been commensurate with the demands of the law which we had broken (Hebrews 7:26).

II. THAT GOD MADE HIM, WHO KNEW NO SIN, TO BE SIN FOR US, i.e., a sin offering. Sin is a great evil, and required a great sacrifice. It is a breach of God's law which is holy, just, and good; and subjects the unhappy transgressor to the heavy curse of that law (Galatians 3:10); and to us sinners there was no hope of deliverance, unless some one should be found who could make a sufficient atonement. We could never have done this. Neither repentance, nor future obedience would have been sufficient to repair the breach which sin had made. No personal sufferings of ours could ever have expiated our offences. Even the sacrifices under the law could not make the comers thereunto perfect. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us. He left no demand of the law unfulfilled, and no claim of Divine justice unsatisfied. His work is perfect. There needs no righteousness of our own to be added to His, nor any sufferings of our own to be joined to those which He endured.

III. THE END WHICH GOD HAD IN VIEW. "That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."

1. God, the moral Governor of the world, requires righteousness from all the children of Adam. But we have all come short of the glory of God, and of the righteousness He requires. How then can man be just with God? There is no answer but that of the gospel. There we read that the Son of God in human nature — the nature which had sinned — became obedient to the law for man, obedient unto death, and thus brought in perfect and everlasting righteousness. We read also that this righteousness is imputed to us of God, for our complete justification before Him, the very moment we believe in Christ; which is therefore called believing unto righteousness. There is thus a reciprocal imputation; the believer's guilt is transferred to the Saviour, and the Saviour's righteousness made over to the believer. And as that Saviour is a Divine Saviour His righteousness may, with the strictest propriety, be called the righteousness of God.

2. This happy and glorious change of state is attended with the most blessed and transforming effects on the spirit and conduct. He who frees from the guilt and consequences of sin, delivers also from its love and power. Christ is made of God sanctification as well as righteousness. The very faith which justifies, sanctifies also. In particular, it secures the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, by whose powerful operations we are renewed in righteousness and true holiness, after the image of God. Conclusion:

1. How glorious does the character of God appear in all this! Mark —

(1)  His love. Was there ever such love?

(2)  His wisdom in providing a Saviour so exactly adapted to our wants.

(3)  His holiness and justice.

2. How anxiously should we inquire whether we are made the righteousness of God in Christ!

3. How studious should we be to grow in grace and in holiness, and thus evince that our faith is a lively and active principle, working by love, and bringing forth much fruit to the glory of God!

(D. Rees.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The Sinless Recede Sin, and the Sinful Made Righteous
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