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2 Corinthians
5:21-6:10


For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
 
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says,
 
"In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you."
 
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.(ESV)

For You

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

11 February 2015

It is for a completely practical and Christ-centered reason that Luther takes Holy Scripture so seriously. Every syllable which God caused to fall from the lips of St. Paul was precious to Luther, not merely to defend some abstract teaching, but rather to set forth in a clear and comforting way what God has done for sinners like us in Christ. For Luther the "for us" are the operative words of the gospel. It is one thing to know about Christ, it is entirely another to know who He is for you. It is one thing to confess that Jesus is the God-man, it is another to believe, trust, and have confidence that the God-man became a curse for you.
 
This Christ who is for you does not merely identify with your sin. He does not only say, "I feel your pain," like some cheesy politician, but He becomes it. He does not merely sympathize, but suffers, not just with us, but for us, in our place. How strange this is, that God's Son, who is righteousness and holiness in Himself, becomes sin and crime. He becomes a substantiation of our sin by grace.
 
To believe in this Christ is to have all His benefits and to have all His benefits is to have Him. How important this is when we feel the depth of our sin and we teeter upon the brink of despair over it. We don't merely feel "sinful" as though we were looking upon something that did not touch us, but rather we feel so completely identified with our sin we become it. It is us and we are it. Christ himself rescues us from the brink of this despair by sharing with us not merely the feeling of our sin but by taking our sin into His own sacred person. All this He does for you. 

 

Martin Luther

"The whole emphasis of Galatians 3:13 is on the phrase 'for us.' Therefore we should not imagine Christ as an innocent and private person who is holy and righteous only for Himself....It is, of course, true that Christ is the purest of persons; but this is not the place to stop. For you do not yet have Christ, even though you know that He is God and man. You truly have Him only when you believe that this altogether pure and innocent Person has been granted to you by the Father as your High Priest and Redeemer, yes, as your Slave. Putting off His innocence and holiness and putting on your sinful person, He bore your sin, death, and curse; He became a sacrifice and a curse for you, in order thus to set you free from the curse of the Law.
 
"You see, then, with what a completely apostolic spirit Paul treats this serious argument about the blessing and the curse, when he not only subjects Christ to the curse but even says that He became a curse. Thus he calls Him 'sin' in 2Co 5 when he says: 'For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin' (2Co 5:21). Although these statements could be correctly expounded by saying that Christ became a 'curse,' that is, a sacrifice for the curse, or 'sin,' that is, a sacrifice for sin; nevertheless, it is more pleasing if the precise meaning of the terms is preserved for the sake of greater emphasis. For when a sinner really comes to a knowledge of himself, he feels himself to be a sinner not only concretely or adjectivally but abstractly and substantively. That is, he seems to himself to be not only miserable but misery itself; not only a sinner, and an accursed one, but sin and the curse itself. Thus in Latin, when we want a strong way to say that someone is a criminal, we call him a 'crime.' It is something awful to bear sin, the wrath of God, the curse, and death. Therefore a man who feels these things in earnest really becomes sin, death, and the curse itself."
 
Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 3.13
 
Prayer
O Christ, You became sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God in You. Send Your Holy Spirit that I might believe with full confidence that You have taken away from me what is mine and by grace have extended to me what is Yours: Your righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Amen.
 
For Pastor Charles Wokoma, who will be returning to Nigeria, that the Lord would direct his ways
 
For Paul Lodholz, that the Lord would grant him strength and healing
 
For Christian believers, that they would live every day in repentance and faith in the gospel

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Isenheim Altarpiece (1515)

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