The Sweet Exchange


II Corinthians 5:21

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. [NLT]

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. [NASB]


Growing up in the middle of the last century, I had a legendary uncle by the name of Charlie. As children, we simply knew him as Uncle Charlie. Looking back, I am sure he was about my present age [66] when I came to know him. He was a great uncle, my grandmothers baby brother. He lived at Bridgeport, Alabama which was about half-way from our home to Chattanooga, Tennessee. As kids, we loved the trip to Uncle Charlie’s. He seemed to be a rather jolly man, he cut hair for a living and called himself a preacher. Our image of Uncle Charlie was all positive and my parents did not tell me the truth until I was grown.

In fact, Uncle Charlie had been a pistol. He married a woman, got her pregnant and then skipped the country. A few months later, he came home, got her pregnant again and then disappeared for a second time. You will fine this hard to believe as I did, but she let him come back for a third time and he got her pregnant for a third time and then skipped the country for good. This time, he did not come back. The poor woman raised the three children by herself. She never received one dime of support from our infamous Uncle Charlie. My grandmother and others tried to help but those were tough times. I am thankful to say, the woman raised the children but they never knew their father. He did try to establish a casual relationship with them after they were grown but they wanted nothing to do with him and who could blame them. I was at his funeral and none of his children were present. I knew of only the three but there could have been more.

Some men are like Uncle Charlie, they bring nothing to the table. They are bums and deadbeats. They are more than willing to get a woman pregnant but once the child is conceived, they want no part of the huge responsibility of raising the child. These irresponsible men, known as characters, take what they can get and then get out of Dodge. They are masters at evading responsible. It still happens today. Men marry and then refuse to provide for their wives and children. They want to hunt, fish, play ball and spend time with the guys but they leave all the responsibility of parenthood and providing to the wife and this eventually takes its toll on the woman who was not created to provide, protect and manage the home. This is not to say that some women do not do a stellar job at managing everything because some do but it is not the perfect design.

Folks, we do not want to see ourselves in this light but when it comes to our relationship with Christ, we are like a deadbeat husband, we bring absolutely nothing to the table. We have nothing to offer other than our honest confession. The only thing we can give Jesus is our sin and shame and the amazing thing is that he is willing to take it.

We give Him our sin and shame and He gives us His righteousness. F.B. Meyer calls this the GREAT EXCHANGE and he wrote a book, “THE CHRIST LIFE FOR YOUR LIFE” on 2 Corinthians 5:21. F.F. Bruce calls it the SWEET EXCHANGE.

When it comes to this text: I think there are some things we must acknowledge. To acknowledge is to accept or admit the existence or truth of something. It is to confess, to agree, concede, admit or recognize said reality. There are several things in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that we must acknowledge.


For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

  • Isaiah 53:9–He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone.
  • I Peter 2:22–He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
  • I John 3:5–And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in Him.
  • Hebrews 4:15–For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

The virgin birth is a fundamental Christian doctrine and it cannot be denied. Jesus was born of woman but not from the seed of a man. We all know that children are conceived by the seed from the male but in Mary’s case, she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Did she feel anything? Was there any sensation? I don’t know: I doubt it but it is immaterial, doesn’t matter. Jesus is the proof of the pudding.

What this means is simple: Jesus did not have Adams blood coursing through His veins, He was born without a sinful nature. Although Jesus was tempted by sin or to sin by the devil himself, Jesus did not think of sin the way we do. He had a pure conscience which none of us can boast about and we know that anyone who pretends to have a pure conscience is lying. {If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. I John 1:10}

The Old Testament teaches Lev 22:21 (NASB)When a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a special vow or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. A holy God demands perfection.

John 8:46, Jesus said to the Pharisees…“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?  We live is a crazy upside down world which shows little respect to Jesus. Most think of Him as a good teacher or revolutionary but can anyone explain why no one, not even one, found fault with Him during His 33 years. Not even the Pharisees could find a fault. Pilot, the Roman governor, could not find one single fault. Why? Because there was NO FAULT TO FIND. It is hard to find something that is not there.

So: acknowledge with me that JESUS IS THE SINLESS SON OF GOD!


For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

  • Isaiah 53:6–All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him {Jesus} the sins of us all.
  • Isaiah 53:10But it was the LORD ’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when His life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD ’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
  • I Peter 2:24He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.
  • Hebrews 9:28–Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

On the cross, Jesus literally became sin for us. He took all our sin and shame upon His own person and suffered like a vile criminal. He didn’t only take our preferred sins such as greed, gossip, jealousy, envy, vain ambition, lust and selfishness: He took the most vile sin imaginable. Jesus knows what it is like to feel guilty. There are sins that we love but there are sins that we loathe and do not want to be associated with. We tolerate lust for women but we loathe lust for children. Pedophilia is loathsome, disgusting and intolerable. Jesus didn’t just feel the guilt of an adulterer, He bore the shame of a pedophile.

I am a history buff and I do love to watch War movies during the Memorial Day weekend. I was watching a documentary the other night about the Nazis. I was not aware of the fact that they starved Holland. That set up a blockade and didn’t allow food to come in: people died by the thousands. When the allies got there, they said the starving bodies were like skeletons with skin and breath. Some were still alive but they appeared to be ghost. Their eyes could focus but they were too weak to talk. 

One America soldier said, “It shook my faith. How could God allow such atrocities to happen? I didn’t lose my faith, eventually, it became stronger but I could never erase the image of those starving people from my mind. It will haunt me until the day I die.”

Jesus felt the guilt of Nazi murderers. Jesus felt the guilt of hate filled Muslims who primary goal in life is to destroy other humans, namely Jews and Christians.

Chris Tomlin says it best–We’ll never know how much it cost to see our sins upon that cross.

Will you acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins


[This is the most difficult thing for me to acknowledge]

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. NLT

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. [NASB]

There is a wonderful passage in Romans 8 that tells us about God’s purpose…And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them his glory.

The world is confused about SALVATION. We think in terms of being saved from out sin and from hell and this is as far as some people get but there is much, much more. God did save us from something, namely self, sin and hell but He also saved us to something, namely Jesus, righteousness and heaven. God’s intended purpose for you is for you to be righteous like Jesus. He is accomplishing this purpose through Jesus Himself. The only way we can be saved is by grace. We cannot deserve forgiveness or love. The only way we can become holy is by grace, God is going to make us righteous through Jesus.

Whereas, we are instantaneously forgiven of our sin, we do not become righteous in an instant, not in the sight of others. We become righteous to God instantly due to His foreknowledge but in time and history, it is a process. The NASB translates the verb, “Might become,” which speaks of a process. We are not righteous [in view of others] but we are becoming righteous.

The NLT states it in a slightly different way, “We are being made righteous.” Sanctification is God’s doing, just like justification. I can no more sanctify myself as justify myself. This is totally a work of grace.

What if a person declares: “I don’t want the righteousness of Christ, I just want forgiveness. I don’t care to be like Jesus, I just don’t want to go to hell.” I would imagine that the church is filled with just such people.

What can we do about such an attitude? My solution or answer would be to “Tell the truth.” No man can come to Christ and get salvation without repentance and faith. I am very afraid that a lot of professing Christians have never repented of their sins. Authentic faith takes place only after repentance. There is no real faith without repentance of sin. We have far too many people relying on a past experience. I don’t care what kind of experience you had, goose bumps on goose bumps, bright lights with angelic music, if you had no sorrow over your sins, you are unrepentant and the proof will be in your present attitude. I preach to people every Sunday who never move. They don’t sing, clap, celebrate and they don’t repent. I have folks that I have never seen come to the altar and we are talking 37 years. If you haven’t repented of a sin in the last 37 years, something is wrong. I had to stop and repent during my quiet time this morning.

Dr. Graham believes that the majority of church members in America are lost and he may be right: the majority is certainly carnal. Their salvation is not working out. There is no visible evidence that they are saved. Several years ago, we had a young man who came to the altar every service. He was struggling with assurance and we tried to help as best we could but I don’t worry about those who struggle with assurance nearly as much as I do those who are cock sure but never display one ounce of humility or repentance. I know preachers who do not have a spirit of repentance.

You cannot get the Son without the Spirit and the Spirit bestows a spirit of repentance. If you do not have this spirit of repentance, then obviously, you have never repented.

Not only will a true born again person have a spirit of humility and repentance; they will, by grace, have a desire to be like Jesus. It is one thing to admire Jesus yet another to want to be like HIM. Jesus was fearless and I suppose we would all like to be fearless but Jesus was also holy: how many of us want to be holy.
By grace, God is going to make us holy. In exchange for our sin and shame, you and I will get the righteousness of Christ. He got our very sin and we get His very righteousness. He didn’t take a part of our sin and we will not take a part of His righteousness, we will get it all. How is this possible?  It is a God thing and all things are possible with God.
Paul said is Galatians 2:16….Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

Jesus by grace will make us right with the Father. Are we there? NO! But we are to take encouragement in God’s purpose more than in our progress. God says we are going to get there and share in His glory and I believe it.

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. [Colossians 3:3-4]


Mary is a good example of our salvation: regeneration, sanctification and glorification. Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Unaffected by physically senses, she in time knew that a person was indwelling her. First, she was given God’s word to believe but eventually, there was visible evidence. Jesus grew in the sanity of Mary’s womb. He became bigger and bigger until He came out. Her motherhood was undeniable. What began in a seemly small way, invisible to the eye became grand and glorious. Who did this? Who is responsible for the INCARNATION? You know the answer: Mary didn’t pull this off, nor did the Jewish Religious Establishment. This was the work of God. Impossible, you would think but not with God.
Jack Bailey, becoming righteous, impossible! You would think but with God all things are possible.

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