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2 Corinthians 5:21
Throughout the New Testament the word “made” is used to describe that which our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, became as our Mediator. “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). God’s dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, “was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3). Just as “the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5). And the Lord Jesus was “made a surety of a better testament” (Hebrews 7:22).
In all those places, the word translated “made” means “caused to be,” or “caused to become.” In 2nd Corinthians 5:21 we read, “He hath made him sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Here, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle to use a different, even stronger word for “made.” Here, the word translated “made” means, “produced, created, or mysteriously, wondrously caused to become.”
Christ Made Sin
When the Lord of Glory died in our room and stead upon the cursed tree, he was caused to be, caused to become sin for us! He was not made to be something that looked like sin, or made to be treated as though he were sin. No. He was made sin for us. He who knew no sin was made sin in all its hideous ugliness. Had he not been made sin for us, he could never have been punished for our sins by the justice of God (Proverbs 17:15).
Sinners Made Righteous
Because our blessed Savior was made sin for us, and was punished for our sins to the full satisfaction of justice, he has completely and forever put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself; and we have been made the righteousness of God in him. By virtue of our union with Christ, God’s elect are righteous, perfectly righteous before God, because Christ is made of God unto us righteousness; and we are the righteousness of God in him. These things are too profound, too great, too mysterious for me to comprehend; but they are not too great for me to believe. Just as Christ was made sin for me, in the same way and to the same extent, I am made the righteousness of God in him. Just as Christ was punished (justly rewarded) for my sin that was made his as my Substitute, I shall be justly rewarded with everlasting life and glory for his righteousness that has been made mine by his grace.
I am astonished and sickened by the fact that some find these things “alarming,” “dangerous,” even “heretical.” They are not even debatable. I cannot imagine why anyone would even think about debating them. Can that be dangerous or heretical, which God has stated? Is it possible to state the doctrine of the cross in the very words of Holy Scripture and yet misstate it? Of course not! It must be concluded that anyone who objects to these sweet revelations of our God, so plainly given in his Word, has no regard for the Word of God, has for his object something other than the glory of God, and desires to corrupt the people of God “from the simplicity that is in Christ.”