2 Corinthians 5:12–21 (NKJV)
12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.2 Corinthians 5:12-21
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Two major statements stand out in this passage. The first is found in verse 17 (“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”) and the second is found in verse 21 (“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us”). These verses speak to the miracle of salvation. It is apparent from verse 21 that the new birth, or regeneration, is miraculous in that sinful men and women can be saved and transformed into a new existence. Converted souls are new creations, born again to a new life in Christ. The verse even goes further, describing the situation as thus: “old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Following this triumphant statement, Paul additionally credits all this to God and the reconciliation found through the work of Jesus Christ.
Verse 21 then describes the source of this miracle wrought through Christ. This work was Jesus’ vicarious (substitutionary) death for our sins. Jesus took our sins upon Himself so that we could become the righteousness of God through Him. There are many subtleties of salvation, including–but not limited to–justification, regeneration, payment for sin, satisfaction of the sin debt, substitutionary death, and many more. Jesus’ taking the sins of evil men and women seems to be one of the most reprehensible aspects of His crucifixion and death. This sinless man, and sinless Son of God, bore our sins, for none of which He was responsible, in order to take the guilt and penalty of them away from us. This is the greatness of our Savior. Because of Him, we can be a new creation and live!