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.
I. THE DOCTRINE. There are three persons mentioned here.
1. God. Let every man know what God is.
(1) He is a sovereign God, i.e., He has absolute power to do as He pleaseth. And though He cannot be unjust, or do anything but good, yet is His nature absolutely free; for goodness is the freedom of God's nature.
(2) He is a God of infinite justice. This I infer from my text; seeing that the way of salvation is a great plan of satisfying justice.
(3) He is a God of grace. God is love in its highest degree.
2. The Son of God — essentially God; purely man — the two standing in a sacred union together, the God-Man. This God in Christ knew no sin.
3. The sinner. And where is he? Turn your eyes within. You are the person intended in the text. I must now introduce you to a scene of a great exchange. The third person is the prisoner at the bar. As a sinner, God has called him before Him. God is gracious, and He desires to save; God is just, and He must punish. "Prisoner at the bar, canst thou plead 'Not guilty'?" He stands speechless; or, if he speaks, he cries, "I am guilty!" How then shall he escape? Oh! how did heaven Wonder, when for the first time God showed how He might be just, and yet be gracious! when the Almighty said, "My justice says 'smite,' but My love stays my hand, and says, 'spare the sinner'! My Son shall stand in thy stead, and be accounted guilty, and thou, the guilty, shalt stand in My Son's stead and be accounted righteous!" Do you say that such an exchange as this is unjust? Let me remind you it was purely voluntary on the part of Christ, and that it was not an unlawful thing is proved by the fact that the sovereign God made Him a substitute. We have read in history of a certain wife whose attachment to her husband was so great, that she had gone into the prison and exchanged clothes with him; and so the prisoner has escaped by a kind of surreptitious substitution. In such a case there was a clear breach of law, and the prisoner escaping might have been pursued and again imprisoned. But in this case the substitution was made by the highest authority.
II. THE USE OF HIS DOCTRINE. "Now, then, we are ambassadors for God," etc., for — here is our grand argument — "He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin." I might entreat you to be reconciled, because it would be a fearful thing to die with God for your enemy. I might on the other hand remind you that those who are reconciled are thereby inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. But I shall not urge that; I shall urge the reason of my text. I beseech thee, be reconciled to God, because Christ has stood in thy stead; because in this there is proof that God is loving you. Thou thinkest God to be a God of wrath. Would He have given then His own Son? God is love; wilt thou be unreconciled to love?
III. THE SWEET ENJOYMENT WHICH THIS DOCTRINE BRINGS TO A BELIEVER. Are you weeping on account of sin? Why weepest thou? Weep because of thy sin, but weep not through any fear of punishment. Look to thy perfect Lord, and remember, thou art complete in Him.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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.