2 Corinthians 5:21: Greatest Christmas Scripture :: By David Gravollom

When celebrating the Advent season, many people have as devotional reading several Old Testament Scriptures that prophesy of Christ, and their New Testament fulfillments. Many people are familiar with the Birth story from Luke thanks to “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” But most people who celebrate Christmas as Christ’s birth (rather than something purely family or secular-oriented) still don’t totally understand what it is they are celebrating. But there is a Scripture in an unexpected place that explains it all.

In the Book of 2 Corinthians is one of the most underused, hidden treasures of the Bible. It seems to me that many churches flat refuse to preach it for various reasons, while others don’t fully grasp its significance. It is in chapter 5, verse 21: “For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus] to be sin for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus].”

Sometimes this verse is expounded upon a little bit, but the full implications are rarely explored or allowed to sink in. I’d like to explain this in a different way, and then tie it to the Christmas story.

Picture a book on the shelf with your name in it. All your deeds, good and bad, that God knew you would do to the end of your life, are recorded in that book. When the Day of Judgment comes, that book is going to be opened; and if there is anything other than complete perfection inside that book, the person whose name is on the book will be sent to hell.

A lot of people picture that God forgives all the bad stuff and it is blotted from the book. But that doesn’t leave perfection. Trust me, God is going to notice a TON of blank spots even in the most simplistic view of our sins. But you also have to understand that even our seemingly GOOD deeds are often tainted by impure motives. As Jeremiah 17:9 explains. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” So even our GOOD things in the book are imperfect. As Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

So what the heck are we supposed to do? But 2 Corinthians 5:21 basically tells us that Jesus is going to unbind the pages of our book and destroy them, and bind in the pages from HIS book. This means that in the book that decides whether we go to heaven or hell, NONE of our deeds are in it, only HIS! We thus have a perfect record that cannot be made worse OR IMPROVED UPON.

Now understand, Revelation 20:12 records the judgments and says that BOOKS (plural) were opened. Most theologians believe that only the wicked dead are at that judgment. But the Bible ALSO mentions shortly before our main verse, in 2 Cor 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” This is a separate book, not related to salvation, and the “bad” it mentions is not sinful bad. Sins go in the other book, but with Christ’s Righteousness in what I will call our Salvation book, sin cannot be imputed unto us.

Romans 5:13: “For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Romans 4:8: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Churches tend to shy away from this because they feel it leads to hyper-grace, where one can sin all one wants to and never really labor for the Lord or fight sin. But a doctrine never should be shied away from because people misuse it. If people go fifteen steps off the Word to the left, and you go fifteen steps to the right hoping to pull it back into balance, the Adversary has you right there. Fifteen steps off of the Word is fifteen steps off of the Word no matter in what direction. Churches are full of doctrines and creeds that are based, not on the Word, but on reaction.

One must preach that sin still has consequences, sometimes tragic consequences. And it impacts so many areas of one’s life. And frankly, some churches try to bind people to them by fear, fear that if they slip up, or leave church, they will somehow be “unsaved.” Other churches, knowing people are uncomfortable about their sins (as they should be), never preach on sin. They fear if they preach against sin, people will leave. Also, they will take their money with them if they leave. It’s sad because in NEITHER case is this great Truth of 2 Corinthians 5:21 preached on.

A true understanding of this verse prevents abuse from churches and individual believers. They can try it, but you simply won’t fall for it. But it’s not just churches and clergy, many believers are uncomfortable with the implications of this verse, as well. We are creatures of pride. SURELY our good deeds, if not saving us, at least give us a BETTER salvation. Something we can be proud of. This verse kills that.

Yet even understanding this doesn’t always bring FULL understanding. For me, even after years of this being my “theme verse,” I still didn’t totally “get it” until I came across one of the oldest prayers of Christendom, known as the “Great Litany.” There was a part near the beginning that gave me pause, and through this I had a sudden revelation that deepened my understanding so much. This part asks forgiveness of sins and prays for deliverance from many ills. But then the means of deliverance is prayed, and that’s where I found myself forced to think about this.

“Remember not, Lord Christ, our offenses, nor the offenses
of our forefathers; neither reward us according to our sins.
Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast
redeemed with thy most precious blood, and by thy mercy
preserve us, for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.

From all evil and wickedness; from sin; from the crafts
and assaults of the devil; and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory,
and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all want
of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all inordinate and sinful affections; and from all the
deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness
of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and
flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine,
Good Lord, deliver us.

From all oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from
violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and
Good Lord, deliver us.

By the mystery of thy holy Incarnation; by thy holy Nativity
and submission to the Law; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and
Good Lord, deliver us.

By thine Agony and Bloody Sweat; by thy Cross and Passion;
by thy precious Death and Burial; by thy glorious Resurrection
and Ascension; and by the Coming of the Holy Ghost,
Good Lord, deliver us.

In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in
the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
Good Lord, deliver us.

I always had understood that what Christ won for us, He won on the Cross. Often even the preaching of the Cross is lacking. So often one hears the phrase, “He shed His precious Blood for our sins.” But they never explain exactly what that means or how it takes care of sin. The easiest explanation is that once He was condemned by the Sanhedrin and the Romans, everything He suffered was punishment WE deserved. So He being punished allowed us to go free.

Yet in the bolded section of the prayer above, MOST of what “delivered us” was BEFORE that, going all the way back to His birth and before to His conception. How was that supposed to be part of what delivered us? Suddenly revelation came and shined a bright Light into my life, and I saw the clear and amazing picture.

Adam was formed from the Hand of God. He had no genetic heritage. After the Fall, we are born of woman and we have the genetic heritage of our parents, including their sin. Jesus Christ is called the “Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).” But unlike Adam, Jesus was formed in the womb as a zygote. I am not one that believes that the egg used was from Mary, for this would not have made Jesus the “Last Adam,” although others disagree. However, that Body in that womb was sinless. So He grew for 9 months, was born, still sinless. Then He had a childhood and young adulthood, still sinless. At 30, He was baptized in the River Jordan. Now, water baptism happens after conversion. So it could be said that Jesus led a perfect “Pre-Conversion” life, was baptized, and then had a perfect “Post-Conversion” life, all still without sin. He went through EVERY SINGLE STEP WE GO THROUGH, INCLUDING A POST-CONVERSION LIFE.

We are condemned by the Law of Moses. Jesus was born and lived under that Law and NEVER ONCE VIOLATED IT. This is very important.

Humankind fell in the Garden (of Eden). Jesus, the Perfect and Sinless One, went to the Garden (of Gethsemane) and, suddenly, the Lord pulled a switch. Suddenly, Jesus experienced the same Fall, with a horror of darkness and fear coming on Him. He prayed. Nothing happened except an ANGEL came to strengthen Him. No answer from a God Who had turned His face from the One Who was now OUR sin. Jesus was caught, tried, convicted, whipped, and paraded through the streets bearing a 300-pound Cross just like we would one day have to do. But now this One Who CREATED everything (John 1:3) now would bear the SIN of everything. And it isn’t just our wrongs, as Isaiah 53 tells us (I am going to slightly rearrange it for emphasis).

Isaiah 53: 5a “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities… 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (So, indeed, He was punished like we should have been for our sins.)

Isaiah 53: 4a “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… 5b the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”

Many of us don’t understand that He didn’t just bear our WRONGS, but our physical and mental suffering. His stripes were not only wounds, but they and later the piercings would infect very quickly, so He also became very sick and feverish.

Isaiah 53:8-10 “He was taken from prison and from judgment… for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death… Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin…”

You see, in that hellish time from the Garden of Gethsemane forward, Jesus suffered the sorrow and grief and sickness and injury, and bore the punishment for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD from beginning to end. He was “put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18). He went to Sheol, “by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:19-20). Just like we deserve to be. Yet, the fact that He was preaching to the souls in prison shows He was now not suffering as they were. He had conquered hell. And the end of all four gospels shows that He conquered death and the grave and ROSE AGAIN. Sin was defeated.

But it could NOT be defeated until He had lived our ENTIRE LIFE. Conception, birth, childhood, pre-conversion life, conversion, post-conversion life, and death. A PERFECT and COMPLETE record. He could not substitute for us until He had done it ALL! And this fact gives the lie to one of the cardinal doctrines of churches and people who try to control and abuse: that upon conversion and baptism all your PREVIOUS sins were dealt with, but somehow all of your post-conversion sins are now up to you. You have to remember every one of them to confess them, or you are LOST. An amazing number of Christians believe they are “unsaved” by every post-conversion sin until they confess it and then are “re-saved,” that God forgives past sin, but present and future are your problem.

But when Christ was born, lived, died, and rose again, ALL of your sins were future, and He knew every one of them. INCLUDING POST-CONVERSION. He died for you anyway.

And so, the record in the book with your name on it is a COMPLETE life all the way from birth to death. It is HIS Life that is the story in YOUR book. You have HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. And since it is complete from BIRTH to DEATH, there is no room to add anything. In the official record, you have ALREADY DIED. You are ALREADY JUDGED RIGHTEOUS! You have ALREADY “MADE IT.”

How do you get this incredible destruction of YOUR record and have HIS substituted in its place? From the Scriptures: Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent [the word means to change your mindset or worldview], and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 10:9 “that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [or in other words, confess that He is not just a great prophet or teacher but the LORD, the VERY GOD MADE FLESH], and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

No Birth, no Christmas, the whole thing is blown. He had to go through OUR ENTIRE LIFE. We started out born, so HE HAD TO AS WELL. And with apologies to Mr. Schulz, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Merry Christmas and Maranatha!

email chocdave777@gmail.com