CHRIST AS A MAN
This is not all. We have to realize that Christ is a man. He bore our sins as a man. God looked at Christ as a man and included all of us in Him. When God judged Christ, He judged us also. Hence, God has judged us in Christ and also forgiven us in Christ. This forgiveness is perfectly just.
Second Corinthians 5:14 says, "Because we have judged this, that One died for all, therefore all died." The "One" here refers to Christ, and the "all" refers to us. When Christ died, we all died with Him because we were all included in Him. It is said that all Chinese came from the one man Hwang-ti. If in the very beginning, somebody had killed Hwang-ti, he would have killed the whole Chinese race. In the same way, we are in Christ. When Christ passed through the judgment, we passed through the same. His death became our termination.
Verse 21: "Him who did not know sin He made sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." The One "who did not know sin" is again Christ. He was made to be sin for us. What does it mean to be "made sin"? It means that when Christ was hung on the cross, God regarded Him as the sin of you and me. He looked at Christ as sin representing the whole human race. When Christ died, sin was all-inclusively terminated and removed. Now all of us who are in Him have our sins terminated; we become the righteousness of God in Christ.
IT IS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD TO FORGIVE US
Why does it say "become the righteousness of God," rather than "become righteous"? What is the difference between the two? To become righteous implies that we have done a good work, whereas to be made the righteousness of God declares that God Himself is righteous. There is a big difference between the two. God did not forgive our sins in an unrighteous way; He forgave in a very righteous way. He has punished Christ. As a result of this punishment, He can forgive us in Christ. God has not glossed over us. God is not an evasive God. When He grants forgiveness, He does so in a just manner.
Once I was going to Chiu-kang on a boat with a friend. A Moslem was reading on the deck of the same boat. After beginning a conversation with him, I told him that I would like to know if his scripture mentioned any way of salvation. He said, "All that one needs to do is repent of one’s past evil deeds. The sin will then be forgiven. Why is there the need for salvation?" I replied that if God forgives in this way, He Himself sins in His forgiveness.
He was very surprised at what I said. It seemed that he had never heard such a thing before. I asked, "Do you think that it is righteous for a man to be forgiven of his sins once he repents of them? For example, when a criminal is brought before a judge, is it right for the judge to release him merely on the basis of his repentance?" After thinking for a while, he admitted that this was not just. Unfortunately, I had no time to explain to him the death of Christ. The salvation of God is based on the judgment of His Son. We receive our forgiveness in the Son.
(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)