In 2 Cor. 5:19-20 Paul speaks of two steps of reconciliation; the first step is to reconcile sinners to God from sin (Christ died for our sins for us to be reconciled to God), and the second step is to reconcile believers living in the natural life to God from the flesh (Christ was made sin for us that we may become God’s righteousness in Him).
Paul was authorized by God to represent Him to carry out the ministry of reconciliation; this ministry is of two aspects, or in two steps: reconciling sinners to God from sin and reconciling believers into God from living in the flesh.
The ministry of reconciliation in two steps can be seen in the two veils in the tabernacle; the first veil – called, the screen – signifies Christ’s death on the cross for our sin so that we may enter into the Holy Place and be reconciled to God from sin, and the second veil signifies Christ’s death for us, the sinners, so that we may be further reconciled to God from living in the flesh so that we may live one with Him in the spirit.
God’s desire is that He would dispense Himself into man and make man fully one with Him so that God and man, man and God, would be one entity, the Body of Christ in this age and the New Jerusalem in the next age, to express God corporately in humanity in all the universe.
In order for God, who is holy, righteous, and glorious, to be related to man, He became a man in His economy; through incarnation Christ God was brought into man, and through death and resurrection Christ brought man into God so that God would dwell in man and man would dwell in God.
Christ’s death is of a particular importance to our Christian life; through His death on the cross, Christ put away sin, destroyed the devil, tore down the middle wall of partition to make us one, reconciled us to God, and redeemed us back to God.
Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we may be reconciled to God from sin; by accepting His sacrifice on the cross and believing into Him, we are reconciled to God from sin and are brought into the Holy Place of His dwelling place to enjoy God in Christ as our life supply and as the light of life.
Furthermore, Christ died for us, the sinners; He was made sin on our behalf so that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him. We who were sinners, enemies of God, through experiencing the crucified Christ, now become fully one with God, even the righteousness of God in Christ.
Wow, hallelujah for such a reconciliation!
Christ died for us, the Persons, that we might Live to Him in the Resurrection Life
The first step of reconciliation is the world (the sinners) being reconciled to God from sin; the objective aspect of Christ’s death is that He died on the cross bearing our sins that they may be judged by God upon Him for us, thus reconciling us to God from sin (1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:11-12; Heb. 9:28; Col. 1:22; Rom. 8:3).
Through believing into Christ, we are reconciled to God from sin based on the Lord’s death on the cross. The second step of reconciliation is to reconcile believers living in the natural life to God from the flesh (2 Cor. 5:20).
The flesh, the self, the natural constitution, are all a barrier for the Lord; we need to be further reconciled to God. The Lord is in our spirit, and from time to time we may touch Him, but this is different from living in the Holy of Holies, living in God, enjoying Him to the uttermost, and experiencing Christ as the embodiment and expression of the Triune God shining in glory into us and speaking to us.
God wants us to be further reconciled to Him until we are in God, with no distance, no separation, no issues, and no barriers between us and Him. For this purpose Christ died for us, the persons; He died for us that we might live to Him in the resurrection life (2 Cor. 5:14-15).
In order for us to be reconciled further to God, Christ died not only for our sins but for us, the persons; He died so that we no longer live to ourselves but to Him who died. The objective aspect of Christ’s death involves His dying for our sins, but the subjective aspect of His death involves His dying for us, the persons; this subjective aspect enables us, the believers, to be reconciled to God in fully.
On the one hand, Christ bore our sins on the cross to reconcile us to God; on the other hand, He was made sin on our behalf so that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him.
We have been crucified with Christ, and now we no longer live by or to ourselves – we live Christ in the resurrection life, by His resurrection power, so that He may live in us (Gal. 2:20). When we see that Christ died for us, the sinners, we are constrained by His love to no longer live to ourselves but to Him who died and was raised.
What a tide of love flows in when we see the Lord’s death for us on the cross! He conquers us not by punishment or anger but by His forbearance; it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, and something happens in our being – we no longer remain the same but live to Him in the resurrection life.
Thank You Lord for dying for us, the sinners, so that we may no longer live to ourselves but to Him who loved us and gave Himself up for us. Constrain us with Your love more today, and may there be a tide of love flowing into us so that we might live to You in the resurrection life. Lord, bring us fully into the Holy of Holies by reconciling us to Yourself to the uttermost. Bring us on with You all the way into the Holy of Holies to enjoy God, live one with God, and be fully mingled with God, having His speaking and His shining!
Christ was made Sin for us so that We might Become the Righteousness of God in Him
In the subjective aspect of His death, Christ was made sin for us to be judged and done away with by God that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). In the objective aspect of His death, Christ bore our sins; in the subjective aspect He became sin (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21).
Christ told us in John 3 that, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so will the Son of Man be lifted up; when He was on the cross, Christ was the reality of the bronze serpent, and all of our sins were on Him – He even became sin for us.
This caused God to abandon Christ on the cross economically (essentially God as the Spirit was, is, and always will be with Him), and God condemned sin in the flesh.
Since we, as fallen human beings, are sin, for Christ to be made sin actually means for Him to become us. The subjective aspect of the death of Christ puts us to death. According to Romans 8:3, God condemned sin in the flesh. This means that He condemned us; He condemned the natural man. Furthermore, the veil, the natural man, the natural life, the flesh, was cleft through the subjective aspect of Christ’s death. When sin was condemned and when the veil was rent, we were terminated. As a result, the second veil was taken away and we may be fully reconciled to God. Therefore, we should not remain in the Holy Place; we should come forward into the Holy of Holies. Moreover, we should no longer know one another according to flesh, but we should know one another according to spirit. (Witness Lee, Life-study of 2 Corinthians, pp. 129-130)
Hallelujah, Christ became like us, in the likeness of the flesh of sin, and He condemned sin in the flesh; He was made sin on our behalf so that we may become the righteousness of God in Him! Now we are brought back to God through the Lord’s death on the cross to be in the Holy of Holies, enjoying God to the uttermost, even becoming the righteousness of God in Him.
Righteousness issues from God for His administration (Psa. 89:14; 97:2; Isa. 32:1); Christ is our righteousness (Phil. 3:9; 1 Cor. 1:30), and now we are made not only righteous but God’s righteousness in Christ. Wow, hallelujah!
Through His redemption, man as a sinner – even man as sin – is made God’s righteousness; we are reconciled to the righteous God, we become a new creation living to Him for God’s eternal purpose, and we’re made God’s righteousness in Christ.
God’s desire is not only that we may be righteous persons; Job was righteous, but he was not the righteousness of God – he needed God to be wrought into him and to pass through certain things until such a thing could happen. God wants to gain a people who, in the sight of God, the devil, the angels, and the demons, are the very righteousness of God.
Even though we all fell in Adam and became not just sinful but sin itself, now in Christ we are brought back thoroughly to God so that we may enjoy Christ and experience Him as the crucified One to the extent that we become God’s righteousness in Him!
Hallelujah for such a wonderful salvation! Praise the Lord for such a thorough reconciliation!
Thank You Lord for being made sin on the cross so that sin would be judged and done away with by God, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ! Hallelujah, Christ was made sin on our behalf so that, by believing into Him and experiencing Him as the crucified One, we would be made God’s righteousness in Him! Thank You Father for causing Your only begotten Son to become in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, so that in resurrection we can be produced as a new kind of species, the God-man kind! Hallelujah for such a salvation and reconciliation!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Ron K. for this week, and Life-study of 2 Corinthians, msg. 14 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Exodus (part 4, 2016 Summer Training), week 43 / msg. 7, The Veil, the Screen, and the Two Aspects of Reconciliation.
- Hymns on this topic:
# God in Him on earth was humbled, / God with man was domiciled; / Man in Him in heav’n exalted, / Man with God is reconciled. (Hymns #132)
# When I am in Adam, though I may not sin, / Unto death, a sinner, sentenced I have been; / When in Christ I need not righteously to act, / I’m already righteous, justified in fact. (Hymns #593)
# Shall I not yield to that constraining power? / Shall I not say, O tide of love, flow in? / My God, Thy gentleness hath conquered me, / Life cannot be as it hath hither been. (Hymns #431)
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