Did Jesus sin? by Steven Brown
November 20, 2012, 12:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

To whom it may concern,

You ask, was the death on the cross merely imputed to the Lord Jesus, or did he really die? Did God the Father really forsake Him or was that only by imputation as well? Was justice really served, or just imputed?

In answer, I say that King David’s experience is intertwined within Psalm 40, and that Christ is also spoken of in Psalm 40 as He is in all the Scriptures. “They are they which testify of Me” (Jhn 5:39)

If one is saying of Christ, in so few words, that He is “made sin in the absolute”, then he is a very foolish person in my opinion,  and has not learned Christ aright.  If the one telling it, as some do tell it, that Christ had His own sin, meaning that He in Himself is defined as the merit of lawlessness,  aka unrighteousness, aka that He is personally a sinner, inherently and in Himself defiled, then one has a Christ who is “disqualified” to be a suitable substitute and surety for His people’s sins.  In another word, He is no longer the sinless spotless Lamb of God who alone is the satisfaction of God’s law and justice.

Merely Imputed?  The reality of imputation (being charged with sin) is real.  Sinners without Christ will one day discover how real it is.   Christ knew its reality, having felt the guilt, shame and reproach for those whom He loved unto death.  He died not for Himself, but for His people who the Father had given Him. The work started in righteousness and finished in righteousness, which is to say, Christ was the lamb crucified from the foundation of the world.  (Rev 13:8)

To further answer your questions,  Jesus died for sin, not in sin. The Father forsook Him for the elect’s sake, not for His own sake.  He was by all account esteemed stricken by God, smitten and afflicted, yet His wounding was for our transgressions, not for His; and He was crushed for our iniquities , not for His.

As Adam’s sin was charged to all, so Christ was charged with all the sins of His people whom He had chosen for salvation from before the foundation of the world.   To go any further would require us to redefine sin, righteousness, God, Christ, even the work of the Holy Spirit, in such a way as the Scriptures do not.    I hope this answer finds you well.

Sincerely, for the elect’s sake, Christ and Him crucified,

Steve Brown

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Let me quote from Mark Daniel’s sermon entitled “Absolute Substitution”: “What is sinful flesh? It is flesh where sin is present. Sinful flesh is flesh where it has sin in it. Sinful flesh is flesh contaminated by sin. Well, now, you ask, I don’t understand how He could be the Son of God, pure and holy, and yet be contaminated by sin.”

Daniel goes on to affirm the mystery of it all: if we could understand it as information, then we would be God and none of us is God, but when Daniel speaks, he does speak as God has spoken, etc.

I doubt that Daniel has read Edward Irving, Karl Barth, or Cranfield about “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3) but this idea about Christ’s peccability and corruption (without ever sinning though) is a not a new heresy. I could ask questions, but the “made sin is real” guys don’t want to risk any informed answers about how Christ could go from being without sin to having sin in his flesh, and this before any imputation of sins.

Was this being made sinful in Christ’s nature or in His person? Was it only the humanity? Is Christ’s supposedly being made sinful something separate from his person?

Again I quote from the sermon by Daniel: “All I’m trying to say is that God did not cut a deal with Christ, where they did role play. It wasn’t judicial role-play. “

Please notice that I am not questioning the sincerity of his motives. I assume that Daniel is much like the Roman Catholics who called imputation a “mere legal fiction”. Though they do not completely dismiss God’s verdicts and declarations, since they know God is holy, they assume that legal transfer is impossible and that justification is analytic. When the leper is no longer a leper, then and only then will God declare a person not to be a leper.

Likewise, Daniel seems to be saying, when Christ is really made sin, when Christ has sin in the flesh, then and only then, without role-play and fiction, God will declare Christ guilty. The only “grace” here is that God will give people a new nature, and replace sin in the flesh. But there is no grace which says that Christ died for the guilt of the elect transferred to Christ. That would be letting elect sinners get away with sin. That would only encourage sin! That would be only fake role-play.

I am reminded of Luther’s illustration of the dung covered by the snow. To mix metaphors, like the wedding dress of imputed righteousness, the justified elect are covered by Christ’s death for their guilt. The Romanists wanted something more real and actual: they wanted God by grace to turn the dung into gold. And of course Luther, not believing that what God did in Him would be any part of justification, asked about what happens when the gold turned back into dung!.

.Daniel is denying that God can or will justify the wicked.
Like the papists who cried “legal fiction”, Daniel is saying that righteousness must be “real”, and only then can there be imputation. This is parallel to his idea that Christ must be “made sin in the flesh actually” before there can be any imputation of guilt.

Let me close with two more quotations from the sermon by Daniel. You can get a tape or a transcript of it from Eager Avenue Baptist Church. “You see, a judicial substitution is INSUFFICIENT…now understand me, I’m not putting down the judicial aspect. He gained a judicial standing but that standing, that part of His substitution, was insufficient to give me life and to give me liberty, to give me freedom from my sins.”

What’s the necessity of the judicial aspect to Daniel? If Christ is made sin before the imputation, and without the imputation, what’s the point of then adding the “judicial aspect”?

Of course, one way to not be dismissing the judicial would be to explain what he means by “judicial”. If he’s saying “more than legal”, he could answer some questions by explaining what he does mean by “legal.”

So why legal imputation after Christ is already made sin? With whose sins was Christ made sin, if the imputation of the guilt of the elect only takes place after the “made sin”?

The last quotation from Daniel: “On the cross, Christ actually became as sinful as I. Something He had never been, could not have become, and did not want to happen, and prayed for that it might let it pass, and yet became a reality in his very being.”

“Something”. And if you ask questions about what that something was, then he will accuse you of being a rationalist and an unbeliever
Beware of putting any of these preachers (or any other preachers) up on a pedestal where you believe what they believe but you don’t know what they believe and they can’t be bothered to explain what they believe. If they won’t answer questions, don’t listen to them.

Comment by markmcculley




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