August 23, 2017
II Corinthians 5:20, 21
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
It is all about Substitution – this matter of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ! And the Scripture that best shows this is II Corinthians 5:21. I include verse 20 in our featured Scripture because, as Paul writes, we are ambassadors for Christ ! Jesus is not here physically to call us to the Father through Himself (see John 5:23; 14:6; Ephesians 2:18), but we are here in His place– Substitution! And so we implore you on Christ’s behalf ! Here is II Corinthians 5:20 and 21:
…we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through
us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He
made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might
become the righteousness of God in Him.
But there is more to Substitution than being ambassadors for Christ, and imploring on His behalf.
• The very need for Jesus Christ to come to earth in His first incarnation is because we have placed ourselves in Substitution for God!
✞ We are designed to have the Lord at the center of our being, directing our lives for His glory! Paul wrote concerning believers in I Corinthians 6:19, “…do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? ” But before one invites Jesus into his or her life, that unsaved one is empty of God and controlled by the devil’s directions! (See John 8:44; Ephesians 2:2).
Since we are designed to have God living and directing from within, without Him we have an emptiness therein that we try to fill with other things! Saint Augustine, the bishop of Hippo (an extinct city in Algeria, North Africa), wrote The Confessions at the end of the third century AD. The great theological scholar made this statement: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord. And our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” It is that inner restlessness that we so desperately try to fill! With what do we try to fill our lives? With many things, including drugs, alcohol, sex, recreation, work, hobbies, music, electronic gadgetry, etc. – anything that can divert our attention away from that inner restless emptiness! The problem is that none of these diversions can take the place of God! They only cover the real issue – our estrangement from our Creator because of sin! (See Romans 3:10-18). In Isaiah 57:20 and 21 it says, “But the wicked art like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked’ ”
✞ But the main thing we put in Substitution for God is ourselves!
▸ This has been the devil’s first lie to mankind – and his chief deception ever since! Genesis 3:5 (International Standard Version) – “…your eyes will be opened and you’ll become like God, knowing good and evil.” It is that same lie by which he, Lucifer, fell from God’s favor! (See Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-17).
▸ Without the Lord in His rightful place, we wrongfully occupy the throne of our lives, making our own decisions!
The problem with making this Substitution is that we are always under the ultimate dominion of another! We are designed to be under God’s dominion, but without Him, we are under the rule of “…the god of this age…” (I Corinthians 4:4) – Satan! Unless something drastic takes place, we will join the devil “…in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death….And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever….” (Revelation 14:11; 21:8).
• Because we have substituted ourselves to be in God’s place, and to solve that problem, He became our Substitution – taking our place!
✞ As sinners, we deserve to be under the wrath and judgment of God!
▸ John 3:36 – “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
▸ Hebrews 9:27 – “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment….”
▸ II Peter 2:9 (International Standard Version) – “…the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials and to hold unrighteous people for punishment on the day of judgment….”
✞ We are told in our featured Scripture, II Corinthians 5:21, God “…made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us….”
▸ I Peter 2:24 – Christ “…bore our sins in His own body on that tree….”
▸ I Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God….”
▸ I Peter 4:1 – “…Christ suffered for us in the flesh….”
▸ Revelation 1:5 – “…Jesus Christ…loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood….”
✞ Jesus – the Son of God, God the Son – became sin for us! He took the punishment we rightly deserved for our sinful rebellion against the holy God!
▸ He suffered on the cross the equivalent of eternity in hell in our place! Somehow, in the period of three hours of darkness (see Matthew 27:45), all hell, for all sinners, for all eternity was compacted and laid upon Him!
▸ When, at the end of that ‘eternal’ suffering, Jesus cried out in John 19:30, “It is finished! ” He was literally saying in the Greek, “Paid in full! ”
✞ But that is only half the transaction described in this Substitution! The other half is “…that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
▸ Wearing the very righteousness of God, we stand before the Lord as if we had never sinned! (See Zechariah 3:1-5).
▸ We are told in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
▸ No wonder it tells us in I John 1:7, “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
▸ According to Ephesians 1:6, “…He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”
What a Substitution! If you want to be a part of this Substitution – my sins for His righteousness – then heed John 1:12: “But as many as received Him [Jesus Christ as Savior], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”