Our theme for this month: “Understanding salvation”
Our Bible verse for today: “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “This is how the sin debt was paid.”
With respect to understanding salvation, 2 Corinthians 5:21 is one of the most illuminating verses in the Bible. More than twenty years ago I was at a Bible conference in Los Angeles when I heard Pastor John MacArthur explain this verse in a sermon. It’s the best and clearest teaching on the subject that I have ever heard and so I will simply paraphrase it here:
On the cross God treated Jesus as if He had committed every sin by every person who would ever be saved, when in fact He committed none of them. This is the doctrine of substitution. The innocent dies for the guilty. “He made him who did not know sin to be sin for us …” On the cross God poured out upon Jesus all the wrath and punishment for all the sins that have ever been committed. All those sins had to be punished and now they were – Jesus was punished for them. In short, God punished Jesus as if He had lived your sinful life and mine.
Then, in eternity, God treats us as if we had lived Jesus’ perfect life. This is why Jesus had to live for thirty-three years on the earth. During those years He was fully human, and he was subjected to every temptation that you and I are subjected to, but He never sinned. He lived the holy, pure, and perfect life that you and I are not capable of living and He did it “…so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
That’s the doctrine of substitution. Both sides of it. On the one side Jesus gets all of your sins. On the other side you get all of His righteousness. The sins had to be paid for and they were – Jesus paid the price so you and I would not have to.
In life we often see shades of this kind of sacrifice – the soldier who jumps on the live grenade, giving his life so his comrades can live; the hero who jumps into a raging river to save a child being washed away but who then loses his own life in the process; the husband who takes a bullet to save his wife and children. On the cross Jesus took the bullet for us so that we can live for eternity in heaven with the Father.
So the penalty for your sins has been paid, Jesus took it for you. His sacrifice is a great gift. But like all gifts, you have to choose to accept it. The gift is not forced upon you. You have to make a conscious decision to open your heart and accept the gift of salvation. There is nothing you can do to earn it, and you can’t pay Him for it. It is a gift and you have to simply accept it. I pray you will accept the gift of salvation today.