“God cannot exalt His mercy at the expense of His justice.” p.42 – In other words He cannot say “sin is not a big deal, I’m not going to let a few little sins keep you out of heaven and out of relationship with Me.”
Bridges spends the bulk of this chapter walking through and unpacking the meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:21. A verse that theologian Charles Hodge wrote this about: “There is probably no passage in the Scriptures in which the doctrine of justification is more concisely or clearly stated.” And which commentator Philip Hughes wrote: “There is no sentence more profound in the whole of Scripture, for this verse embraces the whole ground of the sinner’s reconciliation to God.” p.43
2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
As he unpacked this verse, Bridges talked about The Great Exchange – whereby God exchanges our sin for Christ’s righteousness. he did so by discussing…
Our Condition – The fact that we are helpless, ungodly, sinners and enemies of God.
The Sinlessness of Christ – Though He was tempted in every way during His days on earth Jesus was without sin.
God Made Him To Be Sin – Jesus was made to be the very embodiment of sin. He was made to be all that which is abominable and hateful to God – all that which is the object of His holy and just wrath.
The Righteousness of God – Meaning the righteousness of Christ that was lived out in His 33 years on earth. A righteousness that was both holy and wholly pleasing to God.
Union With Christ – Jesus is our “representative union” – he acted as our representative in both His sinless life and sin-bearing death. he is also our “living union” – He lives within us by His holy Spirit and empowers us to live the Christian life.
Justification – In our standing before God we are righteous in His sight. Not because of anything that we have done but when by faith we trust in Him, God regards us as righteousness because He has credited to us the righteousness of Christ. He sees us just as if we had never sinned and just as if we had always obeyed.
Bridges told a really good illustration to help make his point. He was having a conversation with a self-employed landscape contractor that went like this (p.51):
Bridges: Suppose you have been working on a job all day and come home sweaty and dirty and your clothes all grimy. What do you need to do before you sit down to dinner?
Contractor: I need to take a shower and put on clean clothes.
B: How about just putting on clean clothes without taking a shower?
C: No I would never do that?
B: Then how about taking a shower and putting your grimy work clothes back on?
C: No, I wouldn’t do that either.
B: So you need to take a shower and put on clean clothes?
C: Yes, that’s what I need to do.
B: That’s what God does to you. he washes you clean in the blood of His Son and clothes you in His perfect righteousness.
Next Week: Chapter 5 – A Daily Embracing of the Gospel