by Phillip Vanwinkle
JUNE 3, 2016

Christ: Sinner, or Sacrifice for Sin?

The phrase of the day seems to go something like this: “Christ became sin for us—that is, He became the worst sinner when He died on the cross.” They say that He took all of our sins, and became the world’s worst sinner the day He died on the cross. Those who are liars, those who are cheats, those who are homosexuals, those who are murderers—if you think you have done something bad, you haven’t seen anything, because the Man who hung on the cross became all of those sinners. He was a sinner upon the cross.

That is what the denominational world believes about Jesus. They say that on the day He died, he became the world’s greatest sinner. Now, the passage under consideration for this discussion is this:

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

What does this passage teach? Does this passage say that God made Jesus the world’s worst sinner? Let us find out as we study together.

First of all, it is important to note that when it says He made Him “sin” for us, the word “sin” is not a verb, but a noun. So whatever he became, it was a noun. In other words, God did not make Christ sin (verb), and Christ did not literally sin (verb) while He was on the cross. How then can some say that He was a sinner?

I would suggest to you that Christ did not become a sinner (of any sort) when He died upon the cross. It is my belief, based upon God’s Word and simple logic that what Christ became upon the cross was not a sinner, but rather the sin sacrifice.

First, let us look at the scapegoat, and the offering to God in Leviticus 16. One goat was to be used as the sin sacrifice to God. First of all, the goat that was used for the sin offering was to show forth to God that the sin of Israel was very great. The blood was to be sprinkled in the tabernacle. Then after that was accomplished, the sins of the people were to be “placed” upon the scapegoat and he was to be set free into the wilderness to show them that their sins had been carried far away from them.

When that goat was slain, did it become a sinner? Did that goat literally have upon him the sins of those Israelites? Did the scapegoat literally become the world's worst sinner the day the Israelites placed their sin upon it? Were their sins literally placed upon that goat—and if so, were their sins forgiven by that goat? I suggest to you today that God counted their sins as washed, because they were faithful to the command of God (although until Christ’s sacrifice there would be no forgiveness, see Hebrews 9:15).

I suggest to you that just as Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness, so too, when those Israelites obeyed and killed the sin sacrifice and sent out the scapegoat, they were “counted” as forgiven—but we know that no animal can literally become a sinner. We also know that no animal could ever forgive the sins of mankind (Hebrews 10:4).

So what happened when Jesus died? He did bear our sorrows, He took our griefs, He was wounded because of our sins (Isaiah 53), and He became our sin sacrifice, much greater than the goats in the Old Testament, for it is by His blood that we are healed.

In Hosea’s day, he was told to warn the people—God was upset because His people had left Him once again. Even His own priests had become corrupt. In fact, they had started eating the “sin” of the people. Now, how is that possible? How do priests eat the “sin” of the people? These priests would eat the sin sacrifice which they were not supposed to eat. But the Bible says They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity (Hosea 4:8)

What is the point? When God’s Word says they eat up the sin of my people, it is clear that the priests were eating the sin sacrifice. And when God made Christ sin for us, it ought to be clear to us that Christ did not become a sinner just because He became the sin sacrifice.

How do I know that Christ did not become a sinner upon the cross? If Christ became a sinner, then he was not a sinless, perfect sacrifice. If what was needed to redeem sinful man back to a sinless God was a perfect (human) sacrifice, and Christ died as a sinner, then He was not that perfect sacrifice. If He died as a sinner, then He paid the price for His sins, not mine.

Therefore, I know that Christ did not become “the world’s worst sinner”—in fact, He did not become a sinner at all. When Jesus died, he became the sin sacrifice.

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. (Hosea 4:8)

So, in the margin of your Bible, you might write "Hosea 4:8" beside 2 Corinthians 5:21, because the priests were eating up the “sin”—the sin sacrifice.

God made Christ “sin” (the sin sacrifice) upon the cross. No, Christ did not become a sinner! If He did, then there would be no difference between His sacrifice and anyone else’s—for a sinless man must propitiate for us.

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