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  • Aaron Martin

The Gospel in One Sentence (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. —2 Corinthians 5:21

What is the Gospel? We have volumes of literature explaining the good news of Jesus Christ, but we don’t need volumes in our arsenal to be prepared to “make a defense to anyone who asks you for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). What we need is a well-crafted arrow so we can take aim at the heart in need of Christ. We find that arrow for our bow in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

We have a need. The cross is proof of our need. Apart from Christ, our lives are in danger. We are spiritually adrift, dead in our sins, and hopeless in our fallen state. We are estranged from our Creator God. But “for our sake” God made Christ to be sin. Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15. 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). It is the sinlessness of Jesus that qualifies Him as an acceptable substitute, a worthy sacrifice to receive the punishment we deserve for our rebellion against God. Only He who is entirely without sin is free to bear the sins of others. The Righteous must be offered for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18). This is the only way for sinners to be reconciled to God.

The Father did this to Christ “for our sake.” This sacrifice was not offered because we were deserving, but because we are loved. God made the Sinless One sin for us. The full force and weight of God’s judgment for sin fell upon Jesus. It is in Jesus that we find refuge and shelter from judgment and condemnation for sin. It is in Jesus that an exchange takes place: Jesus takes our sin upon His Sinless body, and in exchange, by faith we “become the righteousness of God”.

This is our justification. Our sin is counted to Christ, and His righteousness is counted to us. In Jesus, it is as if we have never sinned. We have been declared innocent, not because we are innocent in our attitudes and actions, but because Christ is the Innocent One, and in faith, His righteousness becomes ours. This is the Gospel. This is the message of reconciliation. This, the promise of forgiveness and eternal life in Christ, is the reason for our hope.


For Reflection

  1. What does this text teach us about the nature of sin? How does it offer hope to those who are alienated from God?

  2. How does Paul instruct us to deal with our daily, on-going struggle with sin?

  3. In what ways does this passage stir up your affections for and joy in God through Christ?


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