Two Gospel Gems: Substitution and Union

I have sometimes shared some essays from the 19th Century preacher, Octavius Winslow.  Today’s devotion is a true feast for the heart and mind.  Read it and delight yourself in the glory of the gospel!  If you enjoy this, click here to read more by Winslow.


“For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that eve might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5: 21

My reader, it is your highest honor, as it was His deepest shame; your richest glory, as it was His deepest humiliation; that He literally did bear all the sins of all His Church. As truly as we are “made the righteousness of God in Him,” He was “made sin,” or a sin-offering, for us.

Behold how beautifully has the Holy Spirit brought out the doctrines of substitution and union. Of substitution thus, “He has made Him (who knew no sin) to be sin for us.” And of union thus, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Oh amazing truth! Sinking to our deepest dishonor, He raises us to His highest glory. Sinking Himself with our fallen humanity, He raises us to a union with God. Substituting Himself for us, He makes us one with Himself. An affecting thought!

Were all our iniquities, and all our “transgressions in all our sins,” laid on Jesus? Yes, all! Before His infinite mind, to whom the past and the future are one eternal now, the sins of all His chosen ones, to the remotest period of time, passed in review, and were made to meet on the head of the atoning Lamb. Here is opened the high source of all real blessedness to a believing soul. Sweet is the spring, and sweet are the streams that flow from it. Reconciliation with God- His free forgiveness- union with His nature- adoption into His family- acceptance in the Beloved- oneness with a risen Head- access within the veil- filial and perpetual communion- and the “peace of God, which, passes all understanding,” are among the costly results of Christ bearing sin.

And see how completely He has borne the mighty load. The moment our iniquities touched Him, it would seem as though He flung them to an infinite distance, or sunk them to an infinite depth. Never, in point of law and justice, can they appear against the pardoned soul. Laid upon our Surety, condemned, and punished, and pardoned in Him, “there is now no condemnation” of, or for sin, to “those who are in Christ Jesus.”

How strong is the language which declares this truth: “I have blotted out as a thick cloud your transgressions, and as a cloud your sins;” “You have cast all my sins behind Your back;” “Thus says the Lord, The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.” And why? “Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world!” And may we not account as among the most precious and costly blessings resulting from this truth, its sanctifying tendency?

My beloved, the deepest view you can ever have of God’s hatred of sin is in the cross of Calvary; and the deepest sense of the “exceeding sinfulness of sin” you can ever feel is its entire pardon, imprinted on your heart with the atoning blood of Jesus, and witnessed by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. You hate it because it is forgiven; you abhor it because it is pardoned. Oh, powerful and precious motive to holiness! My soul, yield yourself to its sweet influence, draw your constraints to a life of deeper sanctification from the cross; thirst and pant with more intense desire after Divine conformity, as one all whose iniquities, transgressions, and sins are forever cancelled by the heart’s blood of God’s dear Son.

Oh hateful and hated sin, atoned for so richly, pardoned so freely, blotted out so entirely, how can I admire you? how can I love you? how can I cherish you? and how can I yield to you now? You did burden and bow down to the earth the soul of my blessed Lord. You did mar the beauty, and veil the glory, and humble the spirit of my Beloved. You did crimson His body with the bloody sweat- you did wreath His brow with thorns- you did trouble his soul even unto death; and yet you, my transgressions, are forgiven- you, my sins, are covered- you, my iniquities, are not imputed, and that because Jesus, my surety, was wounded, and bruised, and stricken for me!

Winslow, Octavius (2012-11-02). The Classic Works of Octavius Winslow (Kindle Locations 6992-7021). . Kindle Edition.

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