SIXTH LORD'S DAY.
Question 16. Why must he be very man, and also perfectly righteous?
Answer. Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature, which hath sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin; and one, who is himself a sinner, cannot satisfy for others.
It behooved our Mediator to be man, and indeed very man, and perfectly righteous.
First, it behooved him to be man. 1. Because it was man that sinned. It was necessary, therefore, that man should make satisfaction for sin. "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin," &c. "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (Rom. 5:12. 1 Cor. 15:21.) 2. That he might be able to die. It was necessary that he should make satisfaction for us by his death, and by the shedding of his blood, because it had been declared, "Thou shalt surely die." "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission." (Gen. 2:17. Heb. 9:22.)
Secondly, it behooved him to be very man, descending from the same human nature which had sinned, and not created out of nothing, or let down from heaven, but subject to all our infirmities, sin excepted: 1. Because the justice of God required that the same human nature which had sinned, should likewise make satisfaction for sin. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." "And in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." (Ez. 18:20. Gen. 2:17.) It was necessary, therefore, that he who would make satisfaction for man, should himself be very man, having sprung from the posterity of Adam, which had sinned. The following passages of scripture are here in point: " Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead." "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." "He took on him the seed of Abraham; wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren," &c. (1 Cor. 15:21. 1. Tim. 2:5. Heb. 2:16, 17.) So the Apostle says also, that we are buried with Christ in baptism, crucified with him, raised with him, &c. (Rom. 6:4. Col. 2:12.) And Augustine, in his book on true religion, says: " The very same nature was to be assumed, which was to be delivered." 2. Because the truth of God required it. The prophets, who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, often described our Mediator as one that is poor, weak, despised, &c. The 53rd chap. of the prophecy of Isaiah furnishes us with a striking instance. 3. On account of our comfort: for if we did not know him to have sprung from Adam, we could not receive him as the promised Messiah, and as our brother, since the promise is, "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head." "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 3:15; 22:18.) The Apostle Paul also says in relation to this: "He that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one, (that is, of the same human nature); for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Heb. 2:11.) It was necessary therefore that he should spring from Adam, in order that he might be our brother. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same," &c. (Heb. 2:14.) 4. That he might be a faithful High Priest, able to succor them that are tempted. " Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." (Heb. 2:17-18.)
Thirdly, It behooved him to be a perfectly righteous man, one that was wholly free from the least stain of original and actual sin, that he might deservedly be our Saviour, and that his sacrifice might avail, not for himself, but for us: for if he himself had been a sinner, he would have had to satisfy for his own sins. "My righteous servant shall justify many." "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." "Christ also hath once suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." (Is. 53:11. 1 Pet. 2:22; 3:18.)
But he who is himself a sinner. If the Mediator himself had been a sinner he could not have escaped the wrath of God, much less could he have procured for others the favor of God, and exemption from punishment:
neither could the passion, and death of him, who did not suffer as an innocent man, be a ransom for the sin of others. Therefore " God hath made him to be sin for us, (that is, a sacrifice for sin,) who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." "For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's." (2 Cor. 5:26. Heb. 7:26-27.)
The man Christ was perfectly righteous, or has fulfilled the law in four respects. 1. By his own righteousness. Christ alone performed perfect obedience, such as the law requires. 2. By enduring punishment sufficient for our sins. There was a necessity that this double fulfillment of the law should be in Christ: for unless his righteousness had been full, and perfect, he could not have satisfied for the sins of others; and unless he had endured such punishment as has been described, he could not thereby have delivered us from everlasting punishment. The former is called the fulfilling of the law by obedience, by which he himself was conformable thereto; the latter is the fulfilling of the law by punishment, which he suffered for us, that we might not remain subject to eternal condemnation. 3. Christ fulfills the law in us by his Spirit, when he by the same Spirit regenerates us, and by the law leads us to that obedience which is required from us, which is both external and internal, which we commence in this life, and which we shall perfectly and fully perform in the life to come. 4. Christ fulfills the law by teaching it, and freeing it from errors and interpolations, and by restoring its true sense, as he himself said, " I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it." (Matt. 5:17.)
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