If Christ Were Made Sin Not Only By Imputation, by Flavel
They tell us, (1.) That the righteousness of Christ is subjectively and inherently in us, in the same fulness and perfection as it is in Christ; grant that, and then it will follow indeed, That Christ himself is not more righteous than the believer is. (2.) That not only the guilt of sin was laid on Christ by way of imputation: but sinfulness itself, was transferred from the elect to Christ: and that by God’s laying it on him, the sinfulness or fault itself was essentially transfused into him.
First, we thankfully acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Surety of the New Testament, Heb. 7.22, and that as such, all the guilt of our sins were laid upon him, Isa. 53.5,6. That is, God imputed, and he bare it in our room and stead. God the Father, as supreme Lawgiver and Judge of all, upon the transgression of the law, admitted the surety-ship of Christ, to answer for the sins of men, Heb. 10.5,6,7. And for this very end he was made under the law, Gal. 4.4,5. A
God by imputing the guilt of our sins to Christ, thereby our sins became legally his; as the debt is legally the surety’s debt, though he never borrowed any of it: Thus Christ took our sins upon him, though in him was no sin, 2 Cor. 5.21, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”
We thankfully acknowledge, that Christ hath so fully satisfied the law for the sins of all that are his, that the debts of believers are fully discharged. His payment is full, and so therefore is our discharge and acquittal, Rom. 8.1,31. The guilt of believers is so perfectly abolished, that it shall never more bring him under condemnation, John 5.24. And so in Christ they are without fault before God.
As the guilt of our sins was by God’s imputation laid upon Christ, so the righteousness of Christ is by God imputed to believers, by virtue of their legal union with Christ; and becomes thereby truly theirs, for the justification of their particular persons before God, as if they themselves had in their own persons suffered the death threatened.
No inherent righteousness in our own persons, is, or can be more truly our own, for this end and purpose, than Christ’s imputed righteousness is our own. He is the Lord our righteousness, Jeremiah 23.6, We are made the righteousness of God in him, 1 Cor. 5.21.
But notwithstanding all this, we cannot say, that over and above the guilt of sin, that Christ became as completely sinful as we are. He that transgresses the precepts, sins: and the personal sin of one, cannot be in this respect, the personal sin of another. There is no transfusion of the transgression of the precept from one subject to another. This is utterly impossible; even Adam’s personal sins, considered in his single private capacity, are not infused to his posterity.
The guilt of our sin was that which was imputed unto Christ. I know but two ways in the world by which one man’s sins can be imagined to become another’s. Either by imputation, which is legal, and what we affirm; or by essential transfusion from subject to subject. We have as good ground to believe the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation, as this wild notion of the essential transfusion of sin.
If we should once imagine, that the very acts and habits of sin, with the odious deformity thereof, should pass from our persons to Christ and subjectively to inhere in him, as they do in us; then it would follow that our salvation would thereby be rendered utterly impossible. For such an inhesion of sin in the person of Christ is absolutely inconsistent with the hypostatical union, which union is the very foundation of his satisfaction, and our salvation. Though the Divine nature can, and doth dwell in union with the pure and sinless human nature of Christ, yet it cannot dwell in union with sin.
This supposition would render the blood of the cross altogether unable to satisfy for us. He could not have been the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world, if he had not been perfectly pure and spotless, 1 Pet. 1.19.
If the way of making our sins Christ’s by imputation, be thus rejected and derided; and Christ asserted by SOME OTHER WAY to become as completely sinful as we; then I cannot see which way to avoid it, but that the very same acts and habits of sin must inhere both in Christ and in believers also. For I suppose our adversaries will not deny, that notwithstanding God’s laying the sins of believers upon Christ, there remain in all believers after their justification, sinful inclinations and aversations; a law of sin in their members, a body of sin and death.
Did this indwelling sin pass from them to Christ? Why do they complain and groan of indwelling sin (as in Romans 7) if indwelling sin itself be so transferred from them to Christ? Sure, unless men will dare to say, the same acts and habits of sin which they feel in themselves, are as truly in Christ as in themselves, they have no ground to say, that by God’s laying their iniquities upon Christ, that Christ became as completely sinful as they are; and if they should so affirm, that affirmation would undermine the very foundation of their own salvation.
Nothing which Christ did or suffered, nothing that he undertook, or underwent, did, or could constitute him subjectively, inherently, and thereupon personally a sinner, or guilty of any sin of his own. To bear the guilt or blame of other men’s faults makes no man a sinner. So then this proposition, that by God’s laying our sins upon Christ (in some OTHER WAY THAN BY IMPUTATION of guilt) he became as completely sinful as we, will not, ought not to be received as the sound doctrine of the gospel.