When we survey the death, evil, and injustice that plague our world, and then hear that it was made by God, we could rush to conclude that the world reflects the evil nature of God. However, the Bible tells us exactly the opposite, namely that God is holy, without any sin, and only altogether good. In fact, the holiness of God is His most frequently mentioned attribute in Scripture (Isaiah 6:3).
Not only is God good, but everything God made was originally good, including human beings, who were made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27, 31).
Sin is us separating ourselves from God. Because God is the living God and the source of life, sin results in death. This is similar to a piece of technology being unplugged from its power source; it continues to exist, but it is functionally dead. In the same way, the Bible says that because of sin, we are physically alive but spiritually dead. Furthermore, we will all die physically, just as God promised Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23).
One of the things that makes Jesus distinct from and morally superior to everyone who has ever lived, or will ever live, is that He alone is without sin (1 Peter 2:22).
Despite the fact that God made us sinless, everyone but Jesus is a sinner both by nature and by choice (Romans 3:10-12). Anyone who says he is not a sinner is, in fact, proud; and according to the church father Augustine, pride is the worst of sins and was the cause of Satan’s fall from heaven (Ezekiel 28:17). Our sin includes our words, deeds, thoughts, and motives. Again, even non-Christians agree with the Scripture by using phrases like, “nobody’s perfect.”
This point is shocking. On the cross as our substitute, Jesus was made the worst of what we are. This does not mean that Jesus ever sinned. Rather, it means that He was made sin. Jesus became the ugliest, wicked, and defiled evil in all creation. On the cross, Jesus exchanged his perfection for our imperfection… His righteousness for our unrighteousness… His intimacy with God for our distance from God… His blessing for our cursing… His life for our death. As Isaiah 53:6 ESV says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Also, “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).
The fact that Christians celebrate the murder of Jesus as “good news” is disgusting, unless we understand the reason why Jesus died. The Bible teaches that Jesus was made to be our sin, and to appease the justice of God, He died for us. The little word “for” has big implications. In theological terms, it means that Jesus’ death was substitutionary. His death was in our place, solely for our benefit, and without benefit for Himself. Just to be perfectly clear, this means that Jesus took the penalty for our sins, in our place, so we do not have to suffer the just penalty ourselves. The wrath of God that should have fallen on us, and the death that our sins merit fell on Jesus. This wasn’t something forced on Him. Rather, He took it willingly. Scripture repeatedly stresses this point:
“But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
“He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12
He “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Romans 4:25
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3b
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18a
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Galatians 3:13a
God created us and wants to be in relationship with us. We rebelled against Him, wanting to be our own gods, doing whatever we want to do. Because God loves us so much, He sent Jesus to die in our place for our sins. When we believe in the work of Jesus on the cross and put our trust in Him, our sins are forgiven and we are brought back into relationship with God that will last throughout eternity in Heaven.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16