Bible Study Forgiveness Restitution

Jesus Christ Our Propitiation – Sin Offering

God is holy and righteous, and therefore He is always opposed to evil. The Bible in this regard describes God’s opposition to evil as the wrath or anger of God (Deu. 11:16-17; Jn. 3:36; Eph. 5:6). This was why Jesus Christ came into the picture as our perfect sin offering for forgiveness.

God been Just and holy cannot treat sin with levity, He cannot condole or overlook sin (2Ki. 23:26; Jer. 21:12; Hab. 1:13; Rom. 1:18; 2:5; Heb. 1:9; Rev. 14:8-11; 19:1-2). And man on the other hand is sinful (I Kings 8:46; Psm. 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:1-12,19,20,23; Gal. 3:22; Jas. 3:2; I Jn. 1:8,10) and therefore cannot come to God (Isa. 59:2; Rom. 8:7-8; Eph. 2:3; Col. 1:21).

Man deserved God’s wrath and punishment but God has no pleasure whatsoever in punishing man (Psa. 78:38; Rom. 2:2-4; 2Pt. 3:9). This was humanity’s condition, this was man’s state (more on this later) and this is why he needed Jesus as his propitiation.

(1John 2:1-2 [KJV])
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

(1John 4:10 [KJV])
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

What is Propitiation?

The word propitiation in the original is ‘’hilasmos’’. In simple terms, it means to turn away a person’s anger by giving that person an offering. In this case God is the one who is angry. But not anger as in emotional outburst or bad temper but anger as in dissatisfaction.

Bible translators use different words to express the word ‘’hilasmos’’ used in the both verses above. Some use propitiation, others are: offering, atonement, satisfaction, reconciliation, expiator, atoning sacrifice or offering. All these words shed bright light to what the original word means. No one word fully captures it but ‘’propitiation’’ is the generally accepted and the closest to the original word ‘’hilasmos’’.

‘’The Greek word (ἱλασμός, hilasmos) behind the phrase atoning sacrifice conveys both the idea of “turning aside divine wrath” and the idea of “cleansing from sin.” – NET Bible Notes

Propitiation spoken of here in 1Jn.2:2 and 1Jn.4:10 is the propitiatory or what is called in the Old Covenant ‘’mercy seat’’, it was the blood sprinkled lid of the ark, the Old Testament meeting point of God and His people. Where God stood to relate with the Old Covenant saints (1Jo 2:2; 1Jo 4:10).

In the Septuagint the word used in Hebrew is ‘’kaphar’’ it means, to effect an atonement or reconciliation with God (Num 5:8; Heb 2:17), “to make reconciliation for sins,” literally, to expiate the sins. This is what David meant when he said in Psm. 32:1, “blessed is he whose sin is covered.” God in His infinite goodness “loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4: 10). God Himself provided the propitiation. His own Son Jesus was both the propitiatory sacrifice and high priest. He is the expiatory victim, the propitiatory sacrifice that has been offered to the Judge for all our offences against his holy majesty, and law, and government.

Propitiation is the God-ward side of the death of Christ Jesus. It is deals with the most fundamental matter in redemption, which is: the satisfaction of all the Divine claims against man and sin. What we stand to gain is secondary. Paul the Apostle knew this that’s why in the book of Romans the first time the death of Christ was mentioned (Rom.3:25) was in relation to the ‘’propitiatory’’ work of Christ it was later in Rom.4:25 that he spoke about one of the benefits we get as to propitiation.

The Concept of Propitiation in Heathen Religions

The concept of God held universally by all heathen is of god who is angry and must be placated before any blessing can be expected from him. And all heathen religions seek to change the attitude of god towards man so as to receive kindness and mercy from him.
We can even see this practiced by some heathen in the Old Testament. We can find that in 1Kings 18:21-29 [KJV]:

21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. And the people answered him not a word. 22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, [even] I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets [are] four hundred and fifty men. 23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay [it] on wood, and put no fire [under]: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay [it] on wood, and put no fire [under]: 24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. 25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress [it] first; for ye [are] many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire [under]. 26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed [it], and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But [there was] no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he [is] a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, [or] peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the [time] of the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that [there was] neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Through self-punishment, affliction they tried to change the attitude of their god from animosity and hatred to kindness and mercy. The heathen presents a god that is indifferent to the needs and feelings of man. It must take some great work from man to arouse any interest, or compassion or concern for men.
Through personal sacrifice sufferings and penance they were seeking to change the attitude of their god and turn his stony heart and silence to receive some blessing from him.

Elijah came to God not with outward demonstrations and self righteousness or penance but with a lamb – sacrifice. The believer in Christ today who does not know what Christ has done for him will still want to approach God with his good works as a bribe to force God’s hand. We don not approach God with our good works but through what Christ Jesus did. That is why we must know very well all what Christ did for us.

Religion presents God as tough and hard to please, cold and insensitive to men, stubborn, disinterested, unforgiving, and unconcerned. And only through personal sacrifice and self punishments can man get his scarce attention. But the scriptures present a god that is infinite in love, mercy and kindness.
It’s not God’s attitude towards man that needs to be changed but the great reservoir of his love and goodness and grace poured forth. And that will only happen when divine justice is satisfied.
(Gen 4:3-5 [KJV])

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

This account in the Bible presents to us the two ways men try to reach God. It presents to us basically the two categories of religions in the world: ‘’Christianity and Others’’. Every other religion has volumes of rules on how to appease their gods. In these religions you’re mandated to keep offering sacrifices and do several rigorous religious activities that will somehow turn the gods your way.

It is noteworthy that God accepted the sacrifice of blood and not the sacrifice of sweat. God cannot accept anything that comes from man without the blood of Christ. Man is absolutely corrupt and everything that comes out of him is corrupt and God will not accept it. That is why we must come to Him only by the blood Jesus shed in the heavenly tabernacle.

What happened in this account is a type of what Christ will come to do. Now that Christ has come we do not continually offer this blood sacrifice, for Christ as our propitiation is enough. Anyone who believes in Christ Jesus enjoys His perfect propitiatory sacrifice. Jesus shed His blood once (Heb 7:27; Heb 9:24-28; Heb 10:10; Heb 10:12; Heb 10:14; 1Pet 3:18) and it is satisfactory to God forever.

Why Man Needed Propitiation

Man was sinful and absolutely alienated from God. The best description is that man was totally depraved. Louis Berkhof a respected scholar defines the total depravity of man thus: ‘’it does indicate: (1) that the inherent corruption extends to every part of man’s nature, to all the faculties and powers of both soul and body; and (2) that there is no spiritual good, that is, good in relation to God, in the sinner at all, but only perversion’’.

Man’s sinfulness, corruptedness and depravity cannot be estimated by man, it is God who can truly gauge the sinful state of man. The utter corruption of man is clearly taught in Scripture – Gen. 6:5; Ps. 14:3; Rom. 7:18. John 5:42; Rom. 7:18, 23; 8:7; Eph. 4:18; II Tim. 3:2-4; Tit. 1:15; Heb. 3:12.

There is absolutely no good in man outside Christ. When man compares himself with other men (Luke 18:10-14) he may find some feelings of self appreciation. But man is to be rated against the standard that God his creator has laid not mans concocted watered down and lowly standard. This was the same mistake of the Pharisees. They watered down the law to a standard they could use to appraise their morality before men and God.

‘’the effect of sin in man is pervasive, so that every part of man has been damaged and poisoned by evil. It is popular to say that there is good in every person, but the Bible insists on the opposite. That is, until a person becomes a Christian, there is no good in him at all’’ – Vincent Cheung

The religious fellow is only concerned about mans conduct and behavior, but it’s not just about mans conduct but his condition, not just his behavior but his state before a perfect, holy and righteous God.
God’s Estimation of man Outside Christ

  1. All Men are Under Sin
    (Gal 3:22 [KJV])
    But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

See more scriptures here: I Kings 8:46; Ps. 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:1-12,19,20,23; Jas. 3:2; I John 1:8,10

The 3 Aspects of Sin

  1. Personal sins
    (Rom 3:23 [KJV])
    For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
    God’s verdict over us is that we are all sinners and guilty of personal sins.

Bible Words Used to Describe Personal Sins

Transgressions (1Chr.9:1; Jos.7:11,15; Lam.3:42; Isa.48:8), Iniquity (Ex.34:7; Psm.18:23; Job.10:6; Job.15:16; Isa.53:6; Tit.2:14), Error (2Sam.6:7; Job.19:4; Deu.6:4; Rom.1:27; Jam.5:20; 2Pet.2:18; 2Pet.3:17; Heb.9:7; , Sin (Jn.8:34; Job 10:14; Dan.9:20), Wickedness (Gen.6:5; Ez.3:19; Matt.22:18; Lk.11:39; Acts 8:22), Evil (Gen.6:5; Gen.8:21; 2Tim.3:13;3Jn.1:11) Ungodliness(Psm.1:1-6; 1Tim.1:9; Tit.2:12; Rom.5:6; 1Pet.4:18; 2Pet.3:7; Jude 1:4,15), Disobedience (Rom.5:19; Eph.2:2; Eph.5:6; Col.3:6), Unbelief (Matt. 13:58; Matt.17:20; Mk.16:14; Rom.11:20,23,30,32; Lk.12:46; 1Cor.6:6; 1Cor.14:23; 2Cor.6:14; Acts 14:2; 1Cor.7:14-15; Rev. 21:8), Lawlessness (Tit.1:9).

  1. Sin Nature
    Adam was created as an innocent being though with potential for evil. The fall switched his innocent nature to that of sin – the nature of sin. Since Adam was now corrupted all that came from him were as well corrupt.

Sin nature Transferred
The fall made Adam sin. His nature was now corrupt and as the federal head of humanity he pass on that same sinful nature he switched into. See what the Holy Bible says about it.
(Gen 5:3 [KJV])
And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat [a son] in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

(Job 14:4 [KJV])
Who can bring a clean [thing] out of an unclean? not one.

(Ps 51:5 [KJV])
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

(Ps 58:3 [KJV])
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

(Prov 22:15 [KJV])
Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

(1Cor 15:22a [KJV])
For as in Adam all die

(John 3:6 [KJV])
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

(Eph 2:3 [KJV])
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

The federal headship of Adam refers to his role as the representative of all mankind. Adam represented the human race as a “federal head” and not an “organic head.

The whole human race was potentially and numerically present in Adam, and therefore sinned when he sinned and became corrupt when he became corrupt. Human nature as a whole sinned in Adam, and therefore every individualization of that nature is also sinful. – Louis Berkhof

The Nature of Sin in man
(Rom 7:25 [KJV])
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

(Rom 8:2 [KJV])
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Fruits of the sin nature – Rom. 3:10-18; Gal. 5:19-21
(Rom 3:10-18 [KJV])
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat [is] an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps [is] under their lips: Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet [are] swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery [are] in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known:There is no fear of God before their eyes.

(Gal 5:19-21 [KJV])
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

  1. Under sin
    (Rom 3:9 [KJV])
    What then? are we better [than they]? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

See more here: Gal. 3:22; Rom. 11:32
2. All Spiritually Dead
(Eph 2:1, 5 [KJV])
And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins;

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Here are more scripture that proves that: Ez.18:4; Rom.6:23; Rom.5:12; Matt.8:22; Lk.15:24,32; Jn.5:21; 1Jn.3:14
This was the penalty for disobedience in the garden.

  1. All Under Condemnation
    (John 3:18, 36 [KJV])
    He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Read more here: Rom.1:18; 1Thes.5:9; 2Thes.1:9
Condemnation is the lot of the man who has no savior. Christ only not man’s good works can take away the condemnation, wrath, and curse on sinful man – Gal. 3:13
4. All under the power of satan

(1John 5:19 [KJV])
[And] we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

(2Cor 4:4 [KJV])
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

(Eph 2:1-3 [KJV])
And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

(Col 1:13 [KJV])
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:

  1. All Men Lost– lk.15; Eph.2:12;

(Eph 2:12 [KJV])
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Man is helpless, hopeless and lost without Christ his savior.
Jesus Christ is the only answer to the depravity of man. The answer is not in religion; the answer is not in church; the answer is not in sacraments or ordinances; the answer to man’s lostness is in a person – J Dwight Pentecost

Jesus as Man’s Only Propitiation for Sin

Propitiation does not change the attitude of God. What it does is that it frees God to act on behalf of sinners. God, our father today can freely lavish his goodness upon us because of what Christ Jesus has done. The barrier between us and Him is forever removed (Rom.5:2; Eph.2:18). Jesus has made a way to Him, in fact, Jesus only is the way to him (Jn.10:7, 9; Jn.14:6). Anyone who believes in Jesus today has open access to God and all His goodness.

God didn’t start loving man when Jesus died. He has always loved man. What the death of Jesus did was that it gave Him a righteous basis to love man and treat him with all goodness and mercy. Propitiation satisfies fully the claims of divine holiness, righteousness and justice.

A holy God is unapproachable by man. Though God is infinite in love, mercy and grace there was a barrier between God and man (Heb.9:8). Men all through the centuries have tried to pass that barrier to reach God by their strenuous efforts, good works, penance and restitutions. But there is no other way to God except through Christ. He is the way to God. He came and opened the way to God for all men to reach God and forever dwell in his presence by His own blood. There is no other way except through Christ.

‘’A man out of Christ is the flesh such a man cannot please God. He may be most religious, most moral, most amiable, most benevolent, a most excellent master, a gorgeous friend, a liberal giver, a genial companion, a patron of the poor, upright and honorable in all his dealings, he may be an eloquent preacher and a popular writer, and all the while not be ‘’in Christ’’ but ‘’in the flesh,’’ and therefore ‘’cannot please God’’ – CH Mackintosh

Only by blood is propitiation done not good works, penance or restitution Heb. 9:7, 22; 1Pet.1:18-19). And that blood must be of the Christ, for it is the only satisfactory propitiation for sin (Heb.9:14, 22). We must trust in Christ and Him alone to be saved from the grip of sin and its consequences. It is a fruitless venture trying to please or appease God by your penance, restitutions and dead works.

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (Heb.9:22).

God is the one who must be propitiated not man (Gen.18:25; Heb.12:23; Psm.51:1-4). No matter who we offend ultimately it is God we have sinned against. David an Old Covenant King understood this truth very well. After he had fallen into adultery and committed murder see what he said to God: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest (Psm.51:1-4[KJV]).

God the one who man sinned and transgressed against is today satisfied by the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ don’t bring any other sacrifice. Any other sacrifice no matter how good it seems to man is only but a filthy rag to Him. God is satisfied and absolutely pleased with you only because of Christ.

Jesus is the sacrifice for sin (Heb.9:12-14, 28; 1Jn.1-2; 1Jn.4:10; Rom 3:25-26; Heb 2:17; 1Jo 2:2) and the only sacrifice accepted to God. Don’t try to offer sacrifices to God to appease Him in any way. The sacrifice of Christ has fully atoned for your sins and made you acceptable to God forever. You cannot restitute your sins away. You cannot do enough penance to wash away your sins. You cannot bribe God with some filthy rag self righteousness to accept you. Jesus is the only ground for your acceptance in God’s presence. Your acceptance to God is not by your strenuous religiosity but the precious blood of Christ Jesus.

(Rom 3:25 [Weymouth])
He it is whom God put forward as a Mercy-seat, rendered efficacious through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness— because of the passing over, in God’s forbearance, of the sins previously committed

(Rom 5:1’10-11 [KJV])
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

(2Cor 5:18-19 [KJV])
18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

God’s wrath, punishment and judgment for sin and His matchless love for man was seen demonstrated evidently in the sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifice was not man gift to court God’s attention, love and favour but God’s righteous means of bearing divine judgment for sin (Isa. 53:4-5,10-11; 54:8; Mic. 7:18; Jn. 3:16-21,36; Rom. 6:23). The motivation to give up His son as a propitiatory sacrifice was love; the act was a righteous act. Now we are accepted, loved and blessed abundantly by this righteous means.

Israel in the Old Testament looked to the mercy seat as the place where sinful men could meet a gracious and holy God. Today, we look to the Lord Jesus, who bore all our sins in his own body (Rom 3:25-26; Heb 2:17; 1Jo 2:2).

Jesus Christ is our perfect propitiation!!!

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