Imputing Sin – II Corinthians 5:19

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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The “United States v. Wilson, 32 U.S. 150 (1833), was a case in…which…George Wilson, was convicted of robbing the US Mail…and sentenced to death.” Due to his friends’ influence, Wilson was pardoned by Andrew Jackson. Wilson, however, refused the pardon. The Supreme Court was thus asked to rule on the case. The decision was that if the prisoner does not accept the pardon, it is not in effect: “A pardon… may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it is rejected, we have discovered no power in this court to force it upon him.” Therefore, Wilson was hanged.

When the Scripture says that, “…God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…” (II Corinthians 5:19), He is informing us of two things. He is telling us that Christ’s wonderful payment for sin, or provision for eternal salvation, has been made and is now offered to all mankind. God is not saying that all the sins of all mankind, including the lost, are already forgiven. Long after the Cross, the Apostle Paul describes the natural state of all mankind as “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), “under sin” (Romans 3:9; Galatians 3:22), and “dead in your sins” (Colossians 2:13). He goes on to say the natural man is “inexcusable” (Romans 2:1), and warns unbelievers that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Before God will pardon one’s sins, the sinner must see himself as “guilty before God” (Romans 3:19) and believe that he can only be “justified freely…through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). How is a sinner redeemed from the eternal consequence of his sin? It was not applied, or imputed, to all at the Cross, even though the payment for sin was made by the Savior at Calvary. The imputing of each individual’s sins to the Savior is only “…upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:22), or trust, in Christ alone as the payment for their sins. Christ died corporately “for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2), but His payment is only applied individually to them “that believeth [or trust] in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). But, like George Wilson, if the pardon offered by Christ is rejected, it is a pardon not received.

Make your presentation of the gospel clear. Show lost souls that God offers them forgiveness of their sins if they will trust in Christ.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."