“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Scripturally speaking, our salvation is a package deal. Included in the whole package is our forgiveness, our healing, our deliverance (from the power of sin), our freedom (to live in grace rather than law), our justification, our divine protection, and divine blessing. Salvation is all about being restored to a state where God can live in constant fellowship with His people – now that the barrier of sin (and all it’s effect and consequences) have been dealt with (forever!) at the cross.
Salvation not only makes us right… it also makes us righteous. If we don’t understand that truth we will always struggle to live as God meant for us to live.
Jesus came to be the means of the Great Exchange. He took what we were (upon Himself) and gave us what He was, in return.
Today’s verse talks about this exchange. The sinless Son of God was made to “be sin on our behalf” – to carry all of our sinful state with Him on that cross.
As wonderful as that news is, it is not the conclusion of the story. We are forgiven (and delivered from sin) by Christ’s sacrifice – but that was not the end He had in Mind. Phase One was dealing with sin and it’s effects (emptying us out!). Phase Two was imparting into God’s people the very righteousness of God (filling us up!).
Phase Two is described, in Scripture, as the new self:
From the moment we received Jesus, we received everything He was offering to us. His work, on our behalf, was a complete work… completely addressing every need of the human condition. We were sinners. Slaves to sin. Incapable of being anything else. But the work of Jesus ended all that. The work of Jesus not only made us forgiven… it made us righteous!
But the objection is made… “Wait a minute, the Scripture says that ‘we might become’ the righteousness of God. That must mean that we are not righteous, yet. There is the possibility of righteousness… but not without a lot of work, through lots of time, to make us righteous. Right?”
It may certainly seem that way – but the tenses of the word for “might become” refer to an action completed in the past with a potential for full realization in the present. In other words, what Jesus did (in the past, on the cross) accomplished something of which we can take full advantage in our day. And what Jesus did is available in fullness. Not a partial provision. Or a “maybe” provision. Or a gradual provision. A complete provision… made available for us in the now.
To illustrate: Suppose you and I are best friends. But you are rich and I am poor. Because of our friendship, you want to help me out. So you go to your bank and set up an account in my name – and place a million dollars in that account. Then you make me aware of what you have done for me and remind me that the account will only go into effect when you authorize it, personally. So your generous gift was given so that I “might become” a millionaire – even though your part was already done. What you did for me, would be fully realized when I acted on your kindness.
It is that same way with the righteousness of God. Jesus has already done everything that was needed to live in the fullness of what He has provided. It is up to us to accept what He has done – and live our lives AS the righteousness of God.
In Christ… that is what we ARE!