Should he die without our sins being placed upon him, he is not our substitute. Should he rise again without giving us his righteousness, he is not our substitute. But he did take our sins upon himself, and he did give us his righteousness, so he is our substitute.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.First, "He (the Father) made Him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin..."
The action of punishing us in the Son is made by the Father himself. Christ's becoming sin was not just so that we could look to Him as a great moral example. He is that, but that was not his ultimate purpose. His greatest purpose in taking our sin upon Himself was so that the Father could punish him for our sin. So the Father made Christ to be sin, yet at the same time he knew no sin. What we see here is actually the Father treating the Son as though he were the embodiment of sin. Even so, he was still the spotless lamb. He was without blemish. This is an important fact. Christ remained sinless even as he became sin. Otherwise, his becoming sin would not be a taking of our sin upon himself, but actually becoming the sinner himself, and a sinful sacrifice will not do.
Second, "...so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
1. This is a complimentary statement to the one given before. Christ became sin, while yet sinless, so that we could become righteousness, while yet sinners. In the same way that the Father treats the Son as though he were a sinner, he treats us as though we were righteous. He can do this and remain just because he has already punished us in his Son. Our sin was placed in his account, and then, his righteousness was placed in our account. There it is. That's the imputation of our sin to Christ and of Christ's righteousness to us.
2. Our sin is no longer counted against us. There is no sin in our account.
"...that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." (2Co 5:19)Sin is no longer counted against us, but righteousness is counted in our favor. This righteousness is Christ's righteousness, because we have none.
as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;Since we have no righteousness to be counted in our account, this righteousness is an alien righteousness. And this alien righteousness must have a source. The source of the righteousness that is imputed to us is Christ.
3. This righteousness is not our faith, but comes to us by faith. In other words, our faith itself is not counted as righteousness to us, but by our faith we receive Christ's righteousness which is imputed to us by virtue of his substitutionary work. If it were merely our faith that is counted as our righteousness, then faith without the death of Christ would be enough. But faith in and of itself is valueless. When Moses says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness", he does not mean that faith all by itself without any righteous merit is pretended by God to be righteousness, but that righteousness was put into Abraham's account because of faith in God, who is righteous and freely gives righteousness by the merits of his Son to all who will believe.
4. This righteousness is the righteousness that Christ earned as a man during his life. For the Son, being righteous from all eternity, must also live a human life of obedience in order to merit righteousness for those who believe.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.As created beings, God required righteous obedience form Adam and Eve. God requires righteous obedience from all of the human race. None have complied with this demand except for the man, Christ Jesus.
For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people...In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.It is by virtue of this righteous obedience of Christ that fulfilling God's demands of obedience can be said of us. His obedience is imputed to us while our disobedience is imputed to him.
For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.