The Sweet Exchange

SCRIPTURE

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]

INTRODUCTION

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.

I. JESUS IS 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 53:9–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!

II. JESUS BECAME A SACRIFICE [OFFERING] FOR OUR SINS

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

III. WE BECOME RIGHTEOUS BY GRACE

[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]

CONCLUSION

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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Glory, To See and Reflect

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:1-18

 Are we beginning to praise ourselves again? Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. 15 Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

INTRODUCTION [2 Corinthians 3:1-6]

Although the church at Antioch is the mother church in terms of Missions, the Jerusalem church was considered the mother church in terms of authority and the ‘true’ Apostles carried credentials from the Jerusalem church to validate their authenticity. Evidently Paul had no such letter and did not feel the need for such. I am in full agreement with Paul.

Paul insisted that his credentials was his body of work, the Corinthian church was a testimony to Paul’s work and commitment to the gospel. Why did he need a letter written with pen and ink when he had a far greater letter written by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the Corinthians believers?

Let me say in passing that letters of recommendation [Resume] are not proof of work. Documents can be altered or falsified but a man’s testimony is the real deal. A man’s body of work is a far greater recommendation than a legal document.

This argument ignited Paul’s mind and he illustrates this comparison with another comparison. The opening comparison is “Letters of Recommendation,” verses “Body of Work.” From 3:7-18, we have the comparison of the OLD COVENANT verses the NEW COVENANT. Paul’s ultimate point will be, there is no comparison–the New Covenant [Christ] is infinitely superior to the Old [Moses]. As we talk about this comparison tonight, keep in mind that we as believers are to “See and Reflect” the far greater glory of the New Covenant.

Before we get into the heart of the message: let me show you the details of the comparison between the Old Covenant and the New.

OLD COVENANT……………..…………NEW COVENANT

Mediator is Moses                                                    Mediator is Christ

Letters, words engraved in Stone                       Spirit, indwelling the heart         

External                                                                       Internal

Produces Death                                                         Produces Life

Condemnation                                                          Justification

Fading Glory                                                              Unfading Glory

Temporal                                                                    Eternal

Produces Fear                                                            Produces confidence and hope

Veiled {Christ in the Law}                                     Unveiled {Christ in the Gospel}

Results in spirit of slavery                                     Results in spirit of liberty

Obviously, I cannot elaborate on every comparison so I want to make three comments which will hopefully shed some light on all.

I. THE NATURE OF THE COVENANTS

The Old is external and temporal which the New is internal and eternal. The stumbling block for the Jews [Veil] has to do with the Nature of the Covenant. The Jews, as a whole, failed to realize the Temporal nature of the Old Covenant. You and I know that Christ is in the Old Testament [on every page, in every observance, every law, every sacrifice, every offering]. We see this because we repented when we heard the gospel and the veil was removed so that we could see. The veil remains over the eyes of the Jews [as a whole]. They do not see Jesus in Isaiah 53. If you do not see Jesus in Isaiah 53, you have never repented of your sins and the veil is still over your eyes.

God’s plan from the foundation of the world has been Jesus.  Paul said, All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. {Ephesians 1:3-4}

I began preaching at the age of 19 and serving churches at the age of 20 and I did not know jack squat. I remember preaching a sermon that basically said, “God gave us the law and that failed and so plan B was Jesus.” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! I could have been tried for heresy and burned at the stake. God has only one plan and that is JESUS. The law did not fail, it did exactly what God intended, he convicted us of our sin and ultimately lead to the crucifixion of Jesus. You protest, “Jesus didn’t break the law.” Right, but He didn’t die for Himself, He died in our place as a curse and law breaker.

Moses foreshadowed Jesus…He was an OT type of Christ. You and I have seen the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and we know that Jesus is infinitely greater than Moses. We respect Moses but we worship Jesus. The unbelieving Jews had no respect for Jesus and worshiped Moses, to this day. They did not see and do not see that Judaism was temporal. Judaism was pointing toward the body of Christ, the church. It was never intended to be an end of itself, it was a cursor pointing to Jesus.

[Aside: although Paul understood the temporal nature of Judaism and the writer of Hebrews really understood the nature of the Old Covenant, the Jewish converts, Paul included, had a hard time letting go of Judaism. This is what got Paul arrested, he was in the Temple, of all places, carrying out a Jewish rite of purification. He had no business in the Temple or trying to fulfill something that Christ had already completed. This simply highlight what a huge problem the Jews had with letting go of their religion and clinging only to Christ]

II. THE PURPOSE OF THE COVENANTS

Keep in mind, God does not see the Old and New Covenants competing. It is not Plan A verses Plan B. God has only one plan, the salvation of man and both covenants have the same end in mind and that is man’s salvation. It is better to think of the covenants as phase one and two but both heading in the same direction, seeking the same end.

The Law revealed through Moses the mediator of the Old Covenant was perfect. The Law has no flaws. The law simply reveals our flaws which is exactly what God intended. The Law was not given to save us although observing the law enhances our quality of life. Due to the fact that we are sinners and have a rebellious nature, the law brought us condemnation. It highlighted our problem but offered no solution. Jesus by His own admission in John 3, did not come to condemn but to save. Jesus was the Law incarnated into flesh, He was perfect and thus fulfilled all the laws demands. He came to live a life we could not live and die a death we deserved to die. The law takes life but Jesus gives life.

This vast superiority of the New Covenant is obvious. What do we get when we preach the law only? You get condemnation because none of us can meet the requirements of the law. BUT now, in the new covenant, we preach the GOSPEL which is good news to those condemned under the law. Had I rather be an OT prophet or a NT evangelist? Hey, I will take the message of the gospel, “No condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” to the law of condemnation any day.

Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” In 1 Timothy 2, Paul said, This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truthFor there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all. In 2 Peter 3:9, the scripture reads,  The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

John the Baptist was not sent to save anyone, he was sent to point the Jews to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John wrapped up phase one, which is to convict us of sin and lead us to repentance. No one can receive what Jesus has without a repentant heart. The purpose of phase one [old covenant] was to get us ready for Jesus. Everything is about Jesus. This must be at the core of your faith and practice.

III. THE MANIFESTATION OF THE COVENANTS

Both covenants produced glory but the old was a fading glory and the new is an internal and eternal glory. The old covenant glory diminishes with time; the new covenant glory is enhanced by time. The NRSV translates verse 18 like this: And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Paul said in Colossians {and this is a key to your understanding}, 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. This has to be one of the most incredible passages of scripture in the entire bible and it is not believable a part from the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Everything about the covenants is expressed in verse 18, So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. You have to “See the glory” before you can “reflect the glory.” The veil was a cloth that Moses used as a mask to hide the true appearance of his face. When he first came from the presence of the LORD, his face would glow but the glory would not last, it would fade so Moses covered his face. F.F. Bruce says there are two possible reasons why Moses wore the veil: [1] It made it possible for the Israelites to look at him without being dazzled and [2] Moses wished to prevent them from seeing that the glory was fading. Bruce believes that it was the latter that was true.

Think of the sun as the ‘glory’ and clouds as the ‘veil.’ Remember, we have to see the glory to reflect the glory. There can be no obstruction or veil. When a cloud comes between us and the sun, we can neither see nor reflect the sun’s glory. The same is true with the ‘SON,’ we must have a clear view with no obstructions to see HIS GLORY or reflect HIS GLORY. When I look at the Christ of scripture, I see clearly the GLORY but when I look inward, I don’t see any glory and I am lead to question, “Does anyone else see HIS GLORY in me?” No one ever tells me that they see His glory in me so what am I to believe?

It is at this point that Colossians three comes into play: Paul said, “His glory is hidden in us.” He echoes the same principle in 2 Corinthians 4…

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

It is evident that we can reflect very little glory if our lives are eclipsed with sin and rebellion. We have to have clear view of His glory in order to reflect it to others. The true church will not be know until Christ is revealed and these clay jars are broken. The only one who sees our future potential or glory is Jesus. I don’t see yours and you don’t see mine but it is there if you are in Christ and Christ in you. He is our only hope of glory.

CONCLUSION

Seeing and reflecting; this is what it is all about. We must have an unobstructed view of Jesus in order to reflect His glory. The only way to remove the veil is to repent of sins and turn to Christ.