He Loves Me!
This devotional is a series of excerpts from Wayne Jacobsen's life changing book, He Loves Me! Download a PDF of this book by clicking the link below.
Day 36: Not Just Guilty of Sin
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." -2 Corinthians 5:21
To say that God laid the guilt of our sins on Jesus so that he could punish him misses the larger point. Jesus wasn't just guilty of our sins; he became sin itself. Notice the word is in the singular, not talking about the acts of sin, but the very root of it-that self-preferring, self-trusting nature that puts itself above God.
Paul wrote that in a moment in time God made Jesus the personification of sin. While that may appear only as a minor subpoint at first glance, it is critical if we are going to understand what really happened on that cross. He didn't just deal with our sins, but with the very nature of sin itself. By allowing sin to touch his person through the Son, he would be able to prevail in himself over that which we were powerless to fight. Through the physical body of Jesus, sin came face to face with the power of God, and as we shall see, God prevailed over sin completely.
This underscores the fallacy of any law-based or performance-based approach to God. Jesus became sin for us precisely because we were powerless to deal with it ourselves. Scripture is clear here. If any of us could have been righteous on our own, then there would have been no need for Jesus to die. When we fell into sin in a state of unbelief in who God was, sin became an inescapable trap. We couldn't win over it without trust, and we couldn't trust while blinded by sin.
Thus God takes sin into himself through the physical body of Jesus and accomplishes what the law never could-"he condemned sin in sinful man" (Rom. 8:3). Notice it's not sinful people here who are condemned, but the sin within them. The reason we are free from condemnation in Jesus is because he condemned sin in himself. It could not prevail over God's power, and by breaking its power, he opened the door for all who want to be set free of it and live in the life of the Father.
Notice how God's perspective doesn't focus on our sins as much as it does the power of sin itself. This is critical. For the cross was not just an act of punishment for sin. It wasn't just Jesus stepping forward as an innocent victim to take our place on the gallows. Certainly that image does express some of what happened, but punishment alone doesn't break the power of sin.
We see that in our own society. Children punished for wrong doing, often only find a better way to hide it next time or, despite their best efforts, fall victim to it again. So many people who serve jail time for an offense find themselves back again within a short time of being freed. Don't we all know that the desires of our flesh are often stronger than threat of punishment or negative consequence?
No, the cross was not primarily about exacting punishment; it was about prevailing over sin's power. In the Son God didn't just punish sin, but he served up the antidote that Christ was able to endure until sin itself was destroyed. Now, all who embrace him can live in the effects of that antidote, prevailing over sin through a growing relationship to the Creator of all.