He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
— 2 Corinthians 5:21 —
Samson Cholokoto: Central African Preaching Academy | Malawi
Picture a courtroom setting. One individual is guilty, having committed multiple heinous crimes. A second individual is innocent, having committed no crime. It would be shocking and scandalous to see these two individuals’ judicial standing switched, the guilty pronounced innocent and the innocent pronounced guilty—and punished accordingly. Indeed, it is unfathomable and incomprehensible. This gift of Christ’s righteousness only comes to those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. Yet, that’s a picture of the gospel. Guilty sinners are treated as if they are innocent and righteous. Jesus Christ, however, was treated on the cross as if He sinned, though He never did. A great transfer occurs—God transferred our sins upon Christ as our sin-bearer, and Christ’s righteousness is conferred upon us. This is the greatest exchange! While this scenario is shocking, in God’s wisdom it perfectly upholds His standard of justice. Sin is completely punished as God’s wrath was poured out on Christ. God then graciously treats saved sinners as if they lived the perfect life of Christ, all because Christ’s righteousness is transferred to them when they place their faith in Christ. This wonderful and glorious transfer and exchange is captured in the word imputation. Our sin was imputed to Christ. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. This is what Paul means when he writes 2 Corinthians 5:21. This gift of Christ’s righteousness only comes to those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. Have you placed your faith wholly and exclusively on Him? If so, rejoice today with Jeremiah and praise “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer. 23:6).