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Christ Made Sin - The Imputation of Sin to Christ

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by KenH, May 29, 2023.

  1. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

    May 18, 2002
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    (The Imputation of Sin to Christ)

    by Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)

    "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

    Our sins were imputed to him as to a sacrifice. Christ the just is put in the place of the unjust, to suffer for them (1 Peter 3:18). Christ is said to bear sin, as a sacrifice bears sin (Isaiah 53:10, Isaiah 53:12). His soul was made an offering for sin. But sin was so laid upon the victims, as that it was imputed to them in a judicial account manner according to the ceremonial law, and typically expiated by them. Christ would not have taken away our sins as Mediator, had he not borne the punishment of them. As a surety, 'He was made sin for us' (2 Corinthians 5:21), and he bore our sins, which is evident by the kind of death he suffered, not only sharp and shameful—but accursed, having a sense of God's wrath linked to it.

    (1) Imputation cannot be understood of the infection of sin. The filth of our nature was not transmitted to him. Though he was made sin, yet he was not made a sinner by any infusion or transplantation of sin into his nature. It was impossible his holiness could be defiled with our filth.

    (2) But our sin was the meritorious cause of his punishment. All those phrases, that 'Christ died for our sins' (1 Corinthians 15:3) and was 'delivered to death for our offenses' (Romans 4:25) clearly mean sin to be the meritorious cause of the punishment which Christ endured. Sin cannot be said to be the cause of punishment, except by way of merit. If Christ had not been just, he would not have been capable of suffering for us; had we not been unjust, we would not have merited any suffering for ourselves, much less for another. Our unrighteousness put us under a necessity of a sacrifice, and his righteousness made him fit to be one. What was the cause of the desert of suffering for us was the meritorious cause of the sufferings of the Redeemer after he put himself in our place. The sin of the offerer merited the death of the sacrifice presented in his stead.

    (3) Our sins were charged upon him in regard of their guilt. Our sins are so imputed to him as that they are 'not imputed to us' (2 Corinthians 5:19), and not imputed to us because 'he was made a curse for us' (Galatians 3:13). He bore our sins, as to the punishment, is granted. If he were an offering for them, they must in a judicial way be charged upon him. If by being 'made sin', be understood a sacrifice for sin (which indeed is the true intent of the word sometimes in scripture), sin was then legally transferred on the antitype, as it was on the types in the Jewish service by the ceremony of laying on of hands and confessing of sin, after which the thing so dedicated became accursed and though it was in itself innocent, yet was guilty in the sight of the law and as a substitute. In the same manner was Christ accounted. So on the contrary, believers are personally guilty, but by virtue of the satisfaction of this sacrifice imputed to them, they are judicially counted innocent. Christ, who never sinned, is put in such a state as if he had.
    Now, as justifying righteousness is not inherent in us, but imputed to us; so our condemning sin was not inherent in Christ, but imputed to him. There would otherwise be no consistency in the antithesis: 'He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin' (2 Corinthians 5:21). He knew no sin, yet he became sin. It seems to carry the idea further than only the bearing of the punishment of sin. He was by law charged in our stead with the guilt of sin. Our iniquities were laid upon him (Isaiah 53:6).
    He knew not sin by an experimental inherency [something in his own nature], but he knew it by judicial imputation. He knew it not in regard of the spots, but he knew it in regard of the guilt following upon the judgment of God. He was righteous in his person, but not in the sight of the law pronounced righteous as our Surety until after his sacrifice, when he was 'taken from prison and from judgment' (Isaiah 53:8). Until he had paid the debt, he was accounted as a debtor to God.
    The apostle distinguishes his second coming from his first by this, 'He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation' (Hebrews 9:28).
    At the time of His first coming he appeared with sin, with sin charged upon him, as our Surety arrested for our criminal debts. He pawned his life for the lives which we had forfeited. He suffered the penalty due by law that we might have deliverance free by grace. In his first coming he represented our persons as a substitute for us. Our sins were therefore laid upon him. In his second coming he represents God as a deputy, and so no sin can be charged upon him.
    It is as much against divine justice to inflict punishment where there is no sin, as it is to spare an offender who has committed a crime or to 'clear the guilty'. This God will by no means do (Exodus 34:7). The consideration of a crime precedes the sentence, either upon an offender—or his surety. We cannot conceive how divine justice should inflict the punishment, had it not first considered him under guilt.

    Though the first designation of the Redeemer to a suretyship or sacrifice for us, was an act of God's sovereignty, yet the inflicting punishment after that designation and our Savior’s acceptance of it was an act of God's justice, and so declared to be, 'to declare his righteousness, that he might be just' (Romans 3:26), that he might declare his justice in justification, his justice to his law.
    Since death was the wages of sin and passed as a penalty for a violated law (Romans 6:23) it could not righteously be inflicted on him, if sin had not first been imputed to him. In his own person he was in the arms of his Father's love—but as he represented our sinful persons, he felt the strokes of his Father's wrath.

    - rest at Bible Studies & Articles (rofgrace.com)
    #1 KenH, May 29, 2023
    Last edited: May 29, 2023
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