God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them…for He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:19,21—NIV)

More familiar are the words of John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." The casual reader may not be familiar with the reason we need a savior. He does not know why he will perish without a savior, but he is pretty sure he doesn’t want to perish, and the everlasting life part sounds pretty good.

The text before us beautifully details the purpose of God in His mighty work of redemption. It answers the why, how, and what of the gift of His Son. The divine gift of the Savior for mankind is the only authentic provision of peace and goodwill among men. Man’s estrangement from one another is because he is estranged from God. The price for estrangement from God is eternal death. "Exhibit A" that eternal death awaits every man is his sin nature which leads to his acts of sin.

My debt under the holy law of God—Our text identifies these acts as trespasses. Generally speaking, trespasses are an encroachment upon, and a violation of, the boundaries God has set for righteous behavior. These acts are called sin in Scripture. Any and every trespass against God’s holy law brings with it the verdict of "guilty" in God’s courtroom of justice. The declaration of guilt requires the payment of a penalty. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Sin, guilt, penalty—the natural flow of life without Christ, and all sins, without exception, recorded in the courts of Heaven.

His declaration which satisfies my debt—Our text explains how God could satisfy His wrath toward our trespasses, a wrath we justly deserve. The doctrines of imputation and substitution are illustrated. God declared His Son to be sin (imputed our sin to the account of His perfect Son). God treated as sin the One who knew no sin so that He can treat those sinners who trust in His Son’s redemptive work as if they had never sinned. Jesus becomes the substitute (for us) who takes upon Himself the sin of His own (born again believers). Jesus had no "personal acquaintance" with sin yet Jesus paid our sin debt in full upon the cross of Calvary. Therefore, the righteous standing of God’s Son is permitted to be imputed on the believer’s record in the courts of Heaven (i.e., "the righteousness of God in Him" of verse 21).

The design of God in His work—Our text tells us of the grace of God, He provides reconciliation for sinners who have been forgiven through faith in the substitutionary death of His Son. It is a change in the believer’s state. He was estranged from His Creator, now he is at peace with His Maker and he is a beneficiary of the goodwill of God. Real peace only comes to those who are subject to God’s good will and pleasure. Sin, guilt, and penalty cannot produce peace with a just God. Jesus satisfied the just demands of the offended law suffering, as the Just for the unjust, until the wrath of God was exhausted. Peace is established through this Gift of Grace.

Are you painfully aware of the personal cost to Jesus for the sins you have chosen and choose to commit? Do you adequately value the state of peace that exists between your soul and God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you seeking to carry the ministry of reconciliation to the lost around you? Trust and obey.