Updated: Mar 23, 2019
by Dave Miller
“For our sake [God} made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Our life as broken image-bearers requires a new life. The new creation cannot be accomplished by the broken created, you or me. We required a substitute.
God initiated reconciliation the moment man fell into sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 draws upon what God knew when he called out, “Where are you?” to Adam in the garden. This gracious act of God put into motion God becoming man, dying for sin, and burial as the permanent substitute for the death we deserve.
Jesus died as a man, becoming sin, even though he had never sinned himself, because God has intricately linked his image in man, and his love for man to His Glory. The Apostle John wrote:
“He is the propitiation[wrath taker] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
Notice John tells us Jesus “He” is the wrath taker. Only Jesus, as a man, could die in the place of men. Only a man can take the curse humans deserved and only one was the perfect substitute. So zealous was God for his Glory, and so faithful is God to his covenant with man, that the God-Man became sin that we might become the righteousness of God.
God cannot just let us go our own way, his purposes, to fill the earth with his glory, requires he seek and save what was lost. The love God has for you is as sure as the passion he has for his Glory! God will not give his glory to another, so he refuses to stop loving you.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:35-39).
God will not be deterred. His “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love” conquers all!
Jesus did not stay dead. One glorious Sunday morning, following Friday’s horrific death, Jesus walked out of the grave defeating sin on the cross and defeating death through his resurrection. He is not only our substitute for sin in his death, but our new life as well. God punishes our sin in Jesus, and gives us Jesus’ perfect life of obedience as our own and Jesus’ resurrection as our new life! How is this possible? The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:11-17:
We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all menbecause all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Let’s dig a little further into this passage. Our identity before Jesus, is that of Adam, sinful and self-seeking. “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation [a right relationship to God]” (vs. 11). “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all menbecause all sinned” (vs. 12).
In Adam we are all trespassing traitors. In Christ the gift, a reconciled relationship with God, has been freely given by God’s grace to those who believe. “The free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's [Adam’s] trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (vs. 15). “For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (vs. 17). Our Identity in Jesus is righteousness and life.
When we believe in Jesus we are changed! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). That is the how of our new identity. How did God make us new? “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). The Great Exchange, Christ takes on our sin, and we receive in exchange his righteousness!
The gospel, Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, to which the whole of the Old Testament points, requires a rescue for alienated and corrupted man. Demarest wrote, “Because of the problem of human sin, the [Gospel] . . . is absolutely necessary if one would experience new life in fellowship with God.”  John Piper connected the glory of God in Jesus Christ with the Gospel: “In 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 seeing God’s glory in Christ is explicitly identified with the Gospel. . . . It defines the gospel as “the gospel of the glory of Christ.” The glory of God in Jesus Christ shines in the Gospel. God, in the salvation of sinners through the Gospel, restores his image in man as believers are conformed to the image of Christ.
Up Next: Why are you a new creation?
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...
Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007, Location 4744.
Bruce Demarest,The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation(Wheaton: Crossway, 1997), 28.
John Piper, God is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself(Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), 59.
Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide
Chapter 1: The Glory of God
Chapter 2: The Glory of God in Jesus
Chapter 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in Disciple Making
Chapter 5: If You Love Me You Will Obey What I Command
Chapter 6: Monday Morning Disciple Making
Chapter 7: Monday Morning Disciple Making Part 2
Interlude: The Father's Heart
Conclusion: The Lump In Your Throat