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We are God’s Righteousness

“God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us so that through him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV with footnote

What is a sin offering? “If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering for the sin he committed a female goat without defect.” He could also bring a female lamb. If it was a leader, he was to bring a male goat and if it was the entire community, they were to bring a bull. (See Leviticus 4) There were offerings to God where part of the animal was burned on the altar and the rest was eaten either by the priest who assisted, the person who brought the offering or both, depending on what the offering was for. Not so with the sin offering. None of it could be used for food nor the hide for clothing. What wasn’t burned on the altar was taken out of camp (or out of the city once the temple was built) and totally consumed by fire.

God made Jesus to be our sin offering. His blood was poured out and he was taken outside the city to be killed and, the leaders hoped, to be destroyed. He had no sin, just as those animals who were placed on the altar were completely innocent. But God did this “so that through him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Say what? We might become God’s righteousness? That’s impossible, isn’t it? How can we be God’s righteousness? He is perfect and he is perfectly “other,” unlike us in every way. We become God’s righteousness? No way can we do this! There is no way except through Jesus. He did this, not us. And he did it so that we can be reconciled, made congruous and in harmony with God (see verse 20).

Thank you, God, for providing a sin offering that I could never provide on my own to make me something I could never be without you. You turned the tables, didn’t you, God? He who was wholly righteous became sin so that we who are wholly sinful could become righteous. How can this be? This is an example of your upsidedown kingdom, isn’t it? You do the total opposite of what seems logical to achieve what could never be reached by logical means. I don’t understand it, Father, but I thank you for what you’ve done for me at great cost to yourself. I love you.


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