How did Christ become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21)?

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By BibleAsk Team


The concept of Christ becoming sin for us lies at the heart of Christian theology concerning the atonement (2 Corinthians 5:21). It’s a profound truth that speaks to the depth of God’s love and the extent of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.

The Nature of Sin and Its Consequences:

Before delving into how Christ became sin for us, it’s essential to understand the nature of sin and its consequences according to the Bible. Sin is described as transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4) and results in spiritual death and separation from God (Romans 6:23). Throughout the Old Testament, sin is depicted as a barrier between humanity and God, requiring atonement or reconciliation for forgiveness and restoration (Leviticus 16:30).

The Atonement in the Old Testament:

In the Old Testament, the sacrificial system provided a temporary means of atonement for sin, foreshadowing the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The shedding of blood in animal sacrifices served as a symbolic representation of the penalty for sin and the need for reconciliation with God (Hebrews 9:22).

Leviticus 16:15-16 (NKJV) describes the ritual of the Day of Atonement, in which the high priest would make atonement for the sins of the people: “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins.”

These sacrificial practices pointed forward to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and later after the resurrection, it pointed to His ministry in the heavenly Sanctuary as man’s high Priest, advocate and Intercessor (Hebrews 9:11-14).

Christ Became Sin for Us:

Central to Christian belief is the understanding that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Through His death on the cross, Christ became a sin for us, bore the penalty for sin, and provided redemption and reconciliation with God for all who would believe in Him (John 3:16).

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) succinctly expresses the heart of Christ’s atoning sacrifice: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

This verse encapsulates the profound exchange that took place on the cross: Christ, who was without sin, took upon Himself the sins of humanity, bearing the full weight of our guilt and condemnation, so that we might be made righteous in the sight of God through faith in Him.

The Mystery of the Atonement:

The concept of Christ becoming sin for us is a mystery that transcends human understanding. It speaks to the depth of God’s love and the extent of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NKJV) provides a prophetic glimpse into the suffering servant who would bear the sins of many: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

This passage foreshadows the redemptive work of Christ on the cross, where He would bear the sins of humanity and bring about salvation and healing for all who would believe in Him.

The Application of Christ’s Atonement:

The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ has profound implications for believers today. Through faith in Christ, we are justified and reconciled to God, receiving forgiveness for our sins and the gift of eternal life (Romans 5:8-10). Christ’s sacrifice and ministry in the heavenly sancturay not only provides pardon for past sins but also empowers believers to live victoriously over sin and walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

Hebrews 10:19-22 (NKJV) encourages believers to approach God with confidence and assurance, knowing that Christ’s sacrifice has provided full access to the Father: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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