Brethren Archive

He Hath Made Him to Be Sin For Us

by G.J. Stewart

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21) .

An old man sat in the room in which the meetings were held in one of the towns of Tasmania, which room he kept in order, and into which he frequently retired for a little quiet with the Lord, and to chew the cud of some precious scripture, and get thus its present application to his soul.

Expecting to find him there, I entered the room one morning, and as he sat poring over the large type Bible, said—

“Well, Charlie, what scripture are you feeding upon this morning?”

Looking up, on hearing my voice, he replied in tremulous tones, “I’m thinking over this verse in 2 Corinthians 5:21; and look’ee here, I can’t get over this part of it, ‘He hath made him to be sin for us’! Now that, to me, is marvellous! Did God make Him, who was His Son, who knew no sin, to be sin for me? Then, if that is the case, the other part of the verse is easy. Oh! if He who was God’s Son was made sin for me, what may not God do with a poor wretch like me? He may well make me to become the righteousness of God in Him!”

Now, beloved reader, this witness is true, and God had given to His beloved child the true clue to the understanding of this verse. If we get hold of the immensity of the fact contained in the first part of it, we shall have no difficulty in understanding the full scope of the last part of it; and the two parts must be equivalent.

The full foundation of the gospel is here: God hath made Christ to be sin for us—made Him the very thing that had destroyed us, as in type God had said to Moses, “Make thee a fiery serpent” (Num. 21:8). Not make the similitude of it, but make the thing itself. The brazen serpent was, of course, but the similitude of the thing that had bitten them, but the language is couched so as to bring out the full force of the fact in the antitype, that Christ was actually made sin. Oh! the intensity of the actuality of the fact!—that stupendous fact! Dwell for a moment upon it. God hath made HIM (who knew no sin) to be sin for us! Was there ever, or can there be, any transaction upon earth equal to it? Is it not the basis upon which all God’s purposes for time and for eternity, whether on earth or in heaven, can be carried out in Him, and consistently with God’s nature and character?

Because of this, all God’s thoughts of blessedness for man shall be fulfilled. Because of this, shall be accomplished His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself for man, “that in the dispensation of the fullness of time, he might head up all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even IN HIM.”

Because of this, the unsaved reader of the Gospel Messenger may now become the righteousness of God IN HIM.

Reader, is it thus with you?

But surely there must be more than this last to give an adequate answer to the stupendous fact which was accomplished in Him when He, the holy One, was made sin for us; and who shall say that this equivalent shall have been given this side the glory!

The chapter is one of a series in which the apostle vindicates the ministry of the gospel which he had received—a gospel which links with Christ in glory, and ministers thence life; the Spirit and righteousness transforming now morally those who receive it into His image from glory to glory, as they gaze upon Him there (chap. 3).

This treasure is at present in an earthen vessel, which vessel is passing through afflictions here, but the treasure sustains (chap. 4).

But if these afflictions end in death as to the body, as they may do, then a New Creation body awaits the one in whom the treasure is (chap. 5:1), and he earnestly desires it (chap. 5:2), and is always confident (v. 6), and labours to be acceptable to Him always, whether here or there (v. 9); for all must be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ (v. 10).

This being so, the apostle is rendered all the more earnest in his gospel ministry, and persuades men because of the “terrors of the LORD” (v. 11), and judges that they who were dead, and live through His death, should live not to themselves, but to Him that died for them and rose again (vv. 14-15), for already any man who is in Christ is, as to the spirit, connected with New Creation (v. 17), and, as we have seen, he awaits a New Creation body.

Then he declares the terms of his ministry and the basis of it, and of all the hope that buoyed him up in the circumstances he has been describing. The basis of all is in the first clause of verse 21, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin”!

Nothing, beloved reader, can be an adequate answer to the awful actuality of Christ being made sin for us but our becoming the righteousness of God in Him in the same actuality as that righteousness is now displayed in Himself, a Man in the glory of God. No question of time is in the verse to limit it; it is a question of the dignity, the infinite value, of the blessed Person of Him who was made sin; and the answer to it must be equivalent to that stupendous fact. In the language quoted above, “Oh! if He who was God’s Son was made sin for me, what may not God do with a poor wretch like me?”

Because He was made sin for us, we are now the righteousness of God in Him.

Because He was made sin for us, New Creation has already commenced in any man who is in Him.

Because He was made sin for us, we shall be displayed in the building of God, the house not made with hands {i.e., not of this creation), eternal in the heavens.


The Gospel Messenger 1900, p. 216

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