God is perfect. He is just. He is kind, merciful and gracious. He is love. Every one of these titles are appropriate designations when considering the character of God. We delight in these descriptions, we find comfort in them, we experience peace when meditating on them – and rightly so. It is difficult to imagine any more stunning pictures of our God than those listed here. However, I would like to add a few more that I think may just speak, to an even greater degree, of the depths of God’s grace. How about God as a murder? Or, God as a pedophile? What about God as a thief, or blasphemer, or liar? In our descriptions of God that we celebrate in worship, I do not know that I have ever heard God celebrated in such a way. To be honest, I think that most churches, Christians and maybe even pastors, would reject out of hand just such a description of God as ludicrous, if not outright blasphemy. Stay with me, however, as I think these descriptions are not only accurate, they are vital to our own righteousness, worship and commitment to God and His kingdom. In fact, they may just be the most beautiful pictures of Christ that we find in the whole of God’s word. Consider with me the Apostle Paul’s words in 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.
God became sin. Stunning isn’t it? Breathtaking, in fact. God, who is holy, righteous, just, became sin so that we might be holy, righteous, just.
Paul tells us that God did this, for our sake. It’s impossible to overstate just how important this is to the hope of humanity. The reality is that we are an unbelievably sinful people. We are murderers, thieves and adulterers. Even more frightening, we are liars, gluttons & maybe worst of all, self-righteous. We have replaced the worship of God for the worship of ourselves. This misplaced devotion has led us to be so far from God that God’s justice demands that there be payment made for our indiscretion. Scripture is abundantly clear that, “the wages of sin is death” as we read in Romans 6:23. Because God is just and righteous it is impossible for Him to co-exist with sin. His justice demands that that which is right must be done. Is not that the very definition of justice? God is holy, we are not, and the only right thing in response to our consistent failure in respect to His law is for death to occur. If the American court system were to capture a criminal guilty of heinous crimes and then dismiss those crimes out of hand, it would cease being a just system. In much the same way, were God to merely dismiss our sin He would instantly cease to be just. He would become like us; unrighteous and unjust.
However, because He is righteous, because He is holy, because He is just, He rightly exacts justice for our failure. That truth alone, however, does little to move anyone to any sense of awe and worship. While it makes logical sense, it equally pushes humanity towards a desperate conclusion. However, because not only is God just, but He is equally grace-giving, God has chosen to not just exact justice, but to exact that justice against Himself, at His expense.
Here is where this passage truly becomes breathtaking. God is just and therefore demands justice for our sin, yet God is gracious and provides Himself as the satisfaction for this need for justice and He becomes our sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.
Unbelievable. Really it is. This is the stuff of fairy tale or legend. Who would ever do something like that? It makes no logical sense. Certainly, if one were to ever choose to die on behalf of another, it would clearly only be for someone viewed as morally good, and almost certainly not for those who are morally, and spiritually, bankrupt. Yet Jesus, as God Himself, did exactly the opposite. God is a God of justice, a God whose wrath against sin must be appeased and so He determined to pour His wrath out on Himself and in that one moment He both satisfied His wrath, His need for justice, against humanity and summarily extends the greatest offer of grace one could ever imagine. This is the beautiful picture of how God’s wrath and grace not only co-exist, but serve as the foundation for our hope in God.
This is also where we get to the heart of this great act of redemption. It is one thing to consider that Christ died on our behalf. It is stunning to imagine that the God of the universe “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). All of this is incredible, and probably not new to you. However, consider the entirety of this passage. God not only did all of those things, but going even further, He became our sin. Let me say that again for emphasis. God became sin. He did not just assume the responsibility for our sin, although He did that. He did not merely shoulder the weight of our sin, although He did that. He became our sin. My sin. Your sin.
The perfect, righteous, holy, unparalleled God of the universe not only made Himself a slave, He became the sinner that He came to save. He became our sin so that He could absorb the wrath of God poured out against our sin. God did not just become man, He became sin. God was not just murdered, he was embarrassed, humiliated. He became sin.
In the face of that truth is there any proper response that we can give than to completely, wholeheartedly, exhaustively give ourselves to Him in worship and praise? Is there any proper response that you can imagine giving God that is not the risk of everything else we know in an offering of sacrifice to our great King? Is it any wonder, then, that Paul said so clearly, that he “count[ed] everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” his Lord? (Philippians 3:8)
In light of this tremendous sacrifice, how can we as followers of Jesus do anything other than risk everything we have for the sake of His fame, His renown, His glory?
He became sin, so that we could become righteous. Unreal. Thank you God.