2 Corinthians 5:21
ESV - 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
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2 Corinthians 5:21 "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." I think we need to look back at the principle behind animal sacrifice to arrive at a Biblical understanding. Exodus 29:10-11 "And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock. And thou shalt kill the bullock before the LORD, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." When Aaron and his sons placed their hands on the bullock they were in type "imputing" their sins to the bullock. Although incapable of sin the bullock was being offered and sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people. This obviously did not make the priests or the the people sinles nor prevent them from sinning in the future. However, it was required of God for a "propitiation" (covering or appeasement) for their sins. Hebrews 10:1 "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect." Hebrews 10:2 "For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins." Hebrews 10:3 "But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year." Hebrews 10:4 "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." What was not possible through the Levitical sacrificial system was fulfilled completely in the person of The Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 8:3 "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:" Looking back at 2 Corinthians 5:21 we must conclude that Christ although not sinful with no inclination, propensity or tendency to sin had sin imputed (laid to his account) and became God's own sin offering. He is the ONLY sacrifice acceptable to God for sin.We who are saved neither had nor have righteous tendencies other than Christ's righteousness which has been imputed to us. In other words we are still sinners by nature, thought, word and deed and only declared righteous because of our faith in Christ's fulfillment of God's requirement. It is a matter of substitution. If we suppose that salvation makes us inherently righteous, by the same token we would have to say that Christ has now become unrighteous. It is a matter of substitution. Of course we hopefully learn a few things in our Christian walk as we grow in grace and knowledge but considering our righteousness is "imputed" or only laid to our account, a new-born Christian believer is just as righteous as a person who has been saved 40 years. The only way believer's will stop sinning is to drop dead. I personally prefer the alternative....... hopefully the Lord will return soon and permanently clean us up!
True, each of us-every single human being (see Rom. 3:10-12, 19-20)-has failed to do what God’s law requires of us (Gal. 3:10; 6:13; cf. James 2:10). By the way, the KJV is a bad translation here. A better translation is the English Standard Version, 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." But... first, see this wonderful sermon outline of 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ‘Be Ye Reconciled to God’ 1 The Way of Peace—God in Christ reconciling 2 Cor. 5:19 Christ made peace by the blood of His cross Col. 1:20 2 The Work of Christ—a Sinless Saviour Who ‘knew no sin’ 2 Cor. 5:21 a Stupendous Sacrifice—‘made sin for us’ 2 Cor. 5:21 a Satisfactory Settlement ‘made the righteousness of God in Him’ 2 Cor. 5:21 3 The Word of Reconciliation—‘be ye reconciled to God’ 2 Cor. 5:17,20 ‘Get right with God’ and do it now, Get right with God—He tells you how. Oh, come to Christ Who shed His blood, And at the cross get right with God.’ I like the comment by John Piper: Before any of us can make true gospel progress in being righteous partially, we must believe that we are reckoned righteous totally -- "declared righteous." Or to put it another way, the only sin that you can overcome practically in the power of God is a forgiven sin. The great gift of justification precedes and enables the process of sanctification. I.e. sanctification is based on justification. Our load of sin and misery Didst Thou, the Sinless, bear? Thy spotless robe of purity Do we the sinners wear? --Thomas Gill --“O Mystery of Love Divine” (Thomas Gill)
1 Cor. 5. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. You answered your own question. We are declared completely righteous in God's eyes. He sees us as holy and righteous as Christ Himself. We took on Christ's righteousness in place for our sin. Really to be declared righteous and to be righteous are the same thing. When a person is declared innocent in a court of law, he is also inncocent. The declaration is just an announcement of the act.
The word ‘declare’ is a strong word. It is defined in Webster’s as, “to make known formally, officially, or explicitly.” I don’t see, in the Bible, that we are formally the righteousness of Christ the moment we believe. I do see, in Romans 4:22 that Abraham was accounted righteous, due to his faith. The NASB reads: “Therefore it was accredited to him as righteousness.” This same righteousness is accredited to those who simply believe (Romans 4:23-24). I don’t believe that means we are formally declared the righteousness of Christ, but I do believe we are given the right to become the righteousness of Christ (Eph. 1:13-14) the moment we believe, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Eph. 1:14 speaks of a believer’s inheritance and a time at which it might be acquired. Just a hint of the time is supplied in Eph. 1:11-12. It is the moment all believers receive their glorified bodies at the resurrection. It is the Crown of glory that Peter refers to in 1 Peter 5:4. Note that it happens when Jesus appears at the resurrection, and it is eternal, i.e. a believer’s inheritance is eternal life. What is eternal life? Jesus defined that for us in John 17:3. It is to know the Father, to live before Him in perpetuity. That cannot be realized until the resurrection. Hence, I believe that we do not attain to the righteousness of Christ until the resurrection. Paul, in Phil. 3:8-9 compares the righteousness of one who attempts to please God by doing good (adhering to the Ten Commandments) versus the righteousness from God that is in those who believe. The difference is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a believer’s guarantee, but it is only a guarantee if, when the Lord returns, the believer, as Paul states, is still found ‘in him’ meaning Paul has not turned his back on Christ and is still ‘In Christ’ – indwelled by the Holy Spirit. (Please, let’s not get sidetracked on “once saved always saved”). The point I’m trying to make here is that Paul is waiting for something. That something is the resurrection, as stated in the next two verses (Phil. 3:10-11). Paul, in Phil 3:12, states “not that I have already obtained this” in reference to the power of the resurrection, and then further defines that to mean he will be perfect at the resurrection. What does that mean? Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:9-10, speaks of ‘the perfect’ or “that which is perfect” (NASB), but in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 Paul conveys the fact that something during his walk of faith was growing within him, and that it is realized when we are face-to-face with our Lord and Savior, i.e. the resurrection. That something is God’s agape love (1 Corinthians 13:13), for it is the greatest of all three. Look closely at the words in Philippians 1:9. The ESV obscures the point I want to make, that it is as though God’s love abiding in us is a growing, living organism. The ESV states “that your love may abound more and more (grow), WITH knowledge and all discernment. Both the NKJV and the NASB state “that your love may abound more and more, IN knowledge and all discernment. The Amplified version is clearer: “that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to ITS fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight”. It is a subtle difference for sure, but I believe a certain portion of God’s agape love is given to us at the point of belief, and then grows to perfection in us (John 17:26). God’s agape love is synonymous with His glory (John 17:22-23). Perfection is achieved at the Lord’s appearance when we attain to the righteousness of Christ (1 John 2:28-29). For the world doesn’t know what kind of love we have growing in us, that it can be declared we shall be like Christ when we see Him face-to-face (1 John 3:1-2). It is then that we can be declared holy and blameless (righteous), as this was God’s will from the beginning (Eph. 1:4). As believers we are sanctified (Acts 26:18) by our faith, but we are not declared righteous until we are in our glorified bodies 2 Tim. 4:8.
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