Jesus Made Sin? (last update to this study was made on 04/11/2003)
Though much can be said on the subject of sin, permit us to deal briefly with a specific aspect of the topic of sin, namely Jesus being made sin for us. A common translation states "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Corth 5:21 KJV). In fact, there are other translations which state basically the same idea. Young's Literal states "make sin"; Moffatt reads "to be sin"; the Living Bible states "took sinless Christ and poured into him our sins"; and the Jerusalem states "made sinless one into sin". From these, many have come to the conclusion that Jesus BECAME sin. But is this really so? Does scripture teach such a doctrine?
First, let us state that there are other translations that would have us read the verse differently. The Williams quotes "He made Him who personally knew nothing of sin to be a sin-offering for us...". The Diaglott states "For Him who knew no Sin, he made a Sin-offering on our behalf...". Again, the Literal Concordant has "For the One not knowing sin, He makes to be a sin offering for our sakes...".
Secondly, many are familiar with the words of the Old Testament prophet Hosea "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge". However, only two verses later it states "They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity" (Hosea 4:8 KJV). It is a story of the priests eating the sin offering, yet the King James Version uses the word "sin" rather than "sin-offering". I have read that in Hebrew, the phrase "sin offering" is often called "sin". In other words, if we were speaking in that language and referring to the animal offering, we would refer to it as "sin" and all would know what was meant. Regarding the words of Hosea, it should be easy to understand that the priests did not eat up the SIN of the people but rather the sin-offering. So, as with this old testament verse, the same idea applies to II Corinthians 5:21 as Jesus was made a sin-offering and not made sin!
Thirdly, there are several other verses that bear witness to the fact that Jesus was without sin. Peter describes Jesus as a "lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:19). The writer of Hebrews states "how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb 9:14). A lamb without blemish? Without spot? Notice that neither apostle qualifies their statement that Jesus was without blemish or sin "except while hanging on the cross". Why? Because they said what they meant and meant what they said! He was without blemish, spot or sin, period. Without, never, not even once!!
Last, how can sin make atonement for sin? Can you do away with sin by offering up a sacrifice of sin? No beloved, the entire unregenerate race of mankind has been slave to sin and by nature was born into sin and shapen in iniquity. In accordance with Old Testament teachings, only a blameless sacrifice could atone for the sins of the people.
In conclusion, Jesus never became sin at any point in time and never in the eternal realm of spirit. To even think the thought that the sinless one was made into sin grieves my spirit. The doctrine of Jesus becoming sin is a terrible idea and contrary to sound biblical teaching. We pray that all who teach "Jesus becoming sin" consider what we had to say and adjust their theology accordingly.