Reconciliation, then, has no meaning apart from a sense of guilt, that guilt which is involved in our justification. I am going to try to expound that before I am done. I want to note here that it means not so much that God is reconciled, but that God is the Reconciler. It is the neglect of that truth which has produced so much skepticism in the matter of the atonement. So much of our orthodox religion has come to talk as though God were reconciled by a third party. We lose sight of this great central verse, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” As we are both living persons, that means that there was reconciliation on God’s side as well as ours; but wherever it was, it was effected by God Himself in Himself. In what sense was God reconciled within Himself? We come to that surely as we see that the first charge upon reconciling grace is to put away guilt, reconciling by not imputing trespasses. Return to our cardinal verse, 2 Corinthians 5:19. In reconciliation the ground for God’s wrath or God’s judgment was put away. Guilt rests on God’s charging up sin; reconciliation rests upon God’s non-imputation of sin; God’s non-imputation of sin rests upon Christ being made sin for us. You have thus three stages in this magnificent verse. God’s reconciliation rested upon this, that on His Eternal Son, who knew no sin in His experience, (although He knew more about sin than any man who has ever lived), sin’s judgment fell. Him who knew no sin by experience, God made sin. That is to say, God by Christ’s own consent identified Him with sin in treatment though not in feeling. God did not judge Him, but judged sin upon His head. He never once counted Him sinful; He was always well pleased with Him; it was part, indeed, of His own holy self-complacency. Christ was made sin for us, as He could never have been if He had been made a sinner. It was sin that had to be judged, more even than the sinner, in a world-salvation; and God made Christ sin in this sense, that God as it were took Him in the place of sin, rather than of the sinner, and judged the sin upon Him; and in putting Him there He really put Himself there in our place (Christ being what He was); so that the divine judgment of sin was real and effectual. That is, it fell where it was perfectly understood, owned, and praised, and had the sanctifying effect of judgment, the effect of giving holiness at last its own. God made Him to be sin in treatment though not in feeling, so that holiness might be perfected in judgment, and we might become the righteousness of God in Him; so that we might have in God’s sight righteousness by our living union with Christ, righteousness which did not belong to us actually, naturally, and finally. Our righteousness is as little ours individually as the sin on Christ was His. The thief on the cross, for instance – I do not suppose he would have turned what we call a saint if he had survived; though saved, he would not have become sinless all at once. And the great saint, Paul, had sin working in him long after his conversion. Yet by union with Christ they were made God’s righteousness, they were integrated into the New Goodness; God made them partakers of His eternal love to the ever-holy Christ. That is a most wonderful thing. Men like Paul, and far worse men than Paul, by the grace of God, and by a living faith, become partakers of that same eternal love which God from everlasting and to everlasting bestowed upon His only-begotten Son. It is beyond words.