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Reckoned as Sin

2 Corinthians 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.

We live in a fallen world and the one thing we know about a fallen world is that sometimes justice and righteousness do not prevail. There are miscarriages of justice all around us and plenty of examples of the innocent being found guilty, and the guilty being declared innocent. We long for courts where righteousness dwells, but instead, in so many places, we have what the prophet Habakkuk (1:4) noted in Judah of old: “Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.” Mistakes will always happen in a fallen world.

As a congregation, we’ve been praying for justice and righteousness to prevail in a medical malpractice trial that one of our brothers has been dealing with for the past few years. The trial finally came to an end this past week—a very long and challenging ordeal for him and his family. It was difficult for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that being involved in such a lawsuit seems to automatically carry with it a presumption of guilt, or at the very least a sense that something must have gone wrong. Throughout this time, the Lord gave to our brother a confidence that he had walked before Him in integrity and despite what any man or jury of his peers may say, he knew he was vindicated before the bar of God’s justice in this matter. We give praise to our God that He was pleased to allow justice and righteousness to prevail in this case, in that our brother was found to be not guilty of any charges brought against him in this lawsuit. Sometimes, even in a fallen world, mistakes don’t happen.

The fallenness and unpredictability of this world is why we cannot look to earthly judges and courts to get it right all of the time. We know and understand, sometimes through personal experience, that human judges sometimes get it wrong. To see perfect justice we must look to a heavenly court and a heavenly Judge in Whom there is no shadow of turning, no darkness at all. We look to the One Who judges the thoughts and intentions of men’s hearts (something an earthly judge or jury can never see!) and we know that what He does is righteous altogether. And furthermore, as He rules and reigns over all things on this earth, we know that in the mystery of His providence He even rules over the wicked actions of men to bring about His perfect will for His people. As the Scriptures declare in Romans 8:28, “He works all things together for good to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.” This is surely how the believer is able to rest in the midst of a fallen world knowing that He is ruling over all things in this way and will set all things in order in the world to come. The only place where mistakes never happen is before the bar of God’s justice!

But wait, some might say, was righteousness and justice accomplished when an innocent Man was found guilty and the guilty were set free? Was not justice turned on its head when a sinless Man was condemned to die in the place of sinners who, by nature, hated the Judge and His judgments? Our text above from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (a church that knew a lot about our fallen world!) makes the point clearly: God the Father made His only Son sin for us—He reckoned Him as sin, though He was sinless—in order that the sinners for Whom He died would be the righteousness of God in the Son! The ancient prophet Isaiah removed all doubt as to what was happening in this great transaction before the bar of God’s justice when he wrote in his famous 53rd chapter: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” Surely, our hearts cry, surely this was a mistake! In any human court among fallen human beings we would expect such a mistake—but not there in the courts of the Most High God. How can it be? There is only one answer and it is this: this Son, this innocent One, this beloved and precious of the Father, willingly came and willingly gave Himself for sinners like you and like me; and, in the light of His willingness to do what only He could do as the eternal and obedient Son of the Father become Man, His Father was pleased to crush Him under the weight of His eternal wrath.

As we come to the Lord’s Table this week, it is good for us to consider these things and to give thanks to God for His amazing grace that flows to us through this eternal covenant between the Father and Son which leads to our salvation. Meditate upon and consider the words of one modern preacher as he describes the wonder of our salvation: “The time had come for Jesus to surrender Himself as an eternal expiatory sacrifice for sin. Jesus was about to bow Himself into the hands of His enemies, about to be condemned and crucified. Jesus, the beloved and precious to the Father, is about to be destroyed at the hands of God… This is beyond belief. An innocent man is being delivered up by God to be sacrificed. An innocent man is being made sin on behalf of others…You see, Jesus died for sin—but not for His own sin. He had no sin. He was in every sense made sin for us. He became all of our rebellion, all of our lying, all of our cheating, all of our adultery, all of our filth, all of our ugliness. He became all of that on the cross. Otherwise, how could God crucify His Son? It wasn’t that Jesus simply stepped up and said, ‘I’ll do this for you.’ It is that Jesus became the very embodiment of all that sin is.” (excerpt from sermon by Alistair Begg, as it appears in Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross, by Nancy Guthrie, editor, pp. 22-24)

Beloved, there was no mistake made before the throne of His justice on that day. He Who knew no sin did not become a sinner on that cross, but was made sin for us—that we might become in Him the righteousness of God. As we come to the Table and as we will one day come before the bar of God’s righteous judgment, there is only one thing that we can say: “Jesus, my Savior, died for me!” And on that great day it will be no mistake when you hear the words, “Welcome home, my child. Enter now into the fullness of My joy and your heavenly reward!”

Rejoicing in my Savior and yours,
Pastor Ted Trefsgar

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