“He Hath Made Him Sin”
2 Corinthians 5:21
The great transfer of sin from God’s elect to Christ their Surety is fully attested in the apostolic writings of the New Testament. All the expressions of the inspired apostolic writers in relation to this subject seem to have a reference to the legal sacrifices. As the animal offered in sacrifice was called sin, because it typically bore transgression, so Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21). When he was made sin, he was made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13), because he was “once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9: 28). This one offering was not typical, like the sacrifices of the law, but a real expiation of iniquity. The imputation of sin to our blessed Savior was not figurative, but real. It was an imputation connected with a real transfer of our iniquities to him (1 Pet. 2:24).
If there is anything in the Book of God with which we should desire to be acquainted it is this, upon which our salvation and everlasting consolation depend. — “He hath made him sin for us!” If we would know Christ and the fellowship of his sufferings; if we would look on him whom we have pierced and mourn; if we would die unto sin, and bring forth fruit unto God, we must have the gift of God the Holy Spirit to reveal to us this great mystery, that God the Father has laid on Christ the iniquity of us all, that “he hath made him sin for us!”
Why did our holy Redeemer go mourning to the grave? Why did divine justice pursue him? Only because he bare the sin of many. From this fountain the streams of free salvation flow to us. We die unto sin, we live unto righteousness, only because he, his own self, bare our sins in his own body on the tree. O wondrous grace! O magnificent justice! O mysterious transfer! O amazing mystery!
I want you to see the importance of this fact. — “He hath made him sin for us.” I hope that I have more reverence for our God and his Word, and more respect for you, than to make a lot of noise about nothing. This is both a matter of great importance and great consolation, a clearly revealed point of gospel truth that sets before us the mysterious wonder of redemption and the wisdom and glory of God in accomplishing it.
Either the Lord Jesus was made sin for us and our sins were transferred to him, or he did not bear our sins in his body on the tree, as the Book of God says he did, but only the consequences and effects of them. The Prophet of God says, “He shall bear their iniquities.” The word “bear” means “carry,” as a man carries a burden. The Old Testament saints were well acquainted with God our Savior as a sin-bearing Redeemer God, and considered this to be the glory of his character. Micah said, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth (beareth) iniquity; and that passeth over the transgression of the remnant of his heritage?” (Micah 7:18).
Either the Lord Jesus was made sin for us and our sins were transferred to him, or he did not really bear the consequences and effects of them. I mean by that, either he was made sin for us and our sins were transferred to him, or he did not bear the penalty of them. The shame and spitting, the beating and buffeting, the meanness and mockery our holy Savior endured at the hands of the Jews and Roman soldiers, the cross, the nails, and the thorns, were a very small part of the reward of our transgressions. The principal part of the punishment of sin, consists in a sense of guilt, and of divine wrath: but neither of these could Immanuel have endured, unless he was made sin, unless he bore our sins themselves.
Either the Lord Jesus was made sin for us and our sins were transferred to him, or our sins are still our sins and justice finds them upon us still! If Christ was not made sin for us, then the infinite justice of God must still find guilt upon us and upon the saints in glory, too, and must find them upon us forever. If that were the case, justice would still require satisfaction and mercy could be bestowed only at the expense of righteousness. But, thank God, that is not the case! Here is the great glory of God revealed in the salvation of his elect, as it is set forth in Holy Scripture. — The guilt of our sins, and our sins themselves, were forever put away by the sacrifice of his darling Son, washed away completely by the blood of the Lamb!
Sin Put Away
Here is the glory of his righteousness. — Not only that he removed the curse, but the cause of the curse also. — “For as far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Our Savior was made sin for us, and our sins were so completely transferred to him, that if he had not conquered and destroyed them, they would have destroyed him. His resurrection is proof that sin is on him no longer. In Hebrews 9:26, after showing us that our all-glorious Redeemer, has by the merit of his blood obtained eternal redemption for us and that he is our ever-living High Priest who appears in the presence of God for us, the Apostle Paul declares that he bore our sins and put them away “by the sacrifice of himself.” Then, in verse 28, we read, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Did you catch Paul’s words? He tells us that Christ bore the sins of many. Then he says, “unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” — “He appear the second time without sin.” “Mark it well,” Tobias Crisp said, “there was a time that Christ did not appear without sin, for he bore the sins of many. But there is a second time when he shall appear, and then he shall be without sin. So that believers have no sins upon them, and Christ hath none either.” What a glorious truth. It is, truly, worth more to our souls than a mountain of gold!
Either the Lord Jesus was made sin for us and our sins were transferred to him, or his sufferings were not penal sufferings and the justice of God was not satisfied by them. Justice requires that iniquity be punished, but the sufferings of Christ were not punishment, unless our sins were transferred to him, unless he was made sin for us. An innocent person may suffer, but an innocent person cannot be punished, upon any just ground. And justice will not, indeed cannot, allow an innocent person, considered as innocent, to suffer punishment in the room of the guilty, anymore that it can reward a guilty, sinful, corrupt one with life eternal. But, blessed be his name forever, our penal Substitute has fully satisfied his own infinite justice for us, by suffering in our room and stead as One made sin for us, bearing in his own body all the iniquities, transgressions, and sins of all his people!
When our Lord Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2), he did not make the water look like wine, or taste like wine, he made the water wine. And when he was made sin for us by his Father laying on him the iniquity of all his elect, he was not made to look like sin, or made merely to be considered as sin, or even to only be treated as sin. He was made sin!