This is part 10 in the Beyond Today Bible study series: Let Us Keep the Feasts. We have a problem with sin. How should it be dealt with? What’s the reason behind our sin problem? Most importantly, what is God’s solution for sin? Join us as we explore God’s holiness and atonement.
[Steve Myers] Great Heavenly Father, God Almighty, we are so thankful that You are the God that You are. What an amazing Father You are. Thank You for being our Creator. Thank You for loving us and caring so much about us that You want us to be a part of Your family forever. What a fantastic blessing that is, and we just pray for Your guidance and Your presence here at this study. Help us as we delve into Your Word to gain a deeper understanding of who You are and what Your plan is. So Father, we just praise You and honor You, we thank You God, and we pray for Your guidance and inspiration on everything that’s said and done tonight. So we honor You now and put it all into Your hands, praising You and honoring You and asking all of this by the authority of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Why do we need atonement? Have you ever considered the purpose of atonement? What is the reason behind it? Why is it necessary? Is it something that really is that critical? And what’s the purpose? What is the reason for atonement? We’d like to kind of address that issue tonight, not just to talk about Leviticus 23 and the Day of Atonement, but to see the bigger picture than just the single Holy Day, but to look at the reason why. You see, because mankind has a problem with sin, and because we have a problem with sin, we have to really identify what’s the solution. What’s the solution for sin?
So as we look at that greater issue of atonement and the solution for sin, we want to identify tonight, what does God have in mind when it comes to atonement, when it comes to holiness? When it comes to sin, how does God deal with sin? And so we’re going to look at that tonight and identify why atonement is necessary.
So we’ll write a few things up on the board tonight and maybe we’ll start with just that. We’ll say, “Why? Why atonement?” We’ll start there. Why is atonement necessary? Now, as we begin, I think we need to step back a little bit from just the concept of atonement and look at, first of all, God Himself. Because to say someone needs to be atoned for—that there’s a problem—we need to look at the standard. I think that’s critical when you start to think about atonement, that ultimately God is the standard. God is the standard and over, and over, and over again through Scripture, we see God described as the Ultimate, as the Superlative, as the Perfect One. In fact, there’s a fantastic passage that’s over in 1 Samuel chapter 2, right at the very beginning of that chapter.
It’s in verse 2. In fact, it’s a quotation from a prayer that Hannah gave. Hannah is praising and honoring God, God has blessed her with a son, a son named Samuel. And in this prayer, she points to the standard, that God is the standard. And notice the way that she puts it in these amazing superlatives.
This is in 1 Samuel 2:2 1 Samuel 2:2There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside you: neither is there any rock like our God.
American King James Version×. It says, “No one is holy like the Lord. There is none besides You, nor is there any Rock like our God.” Perhaps you’ve heard different songs that are based on this particular verse. There’s some really amazing ones out there that talk about the ultimate standard, that there is no one like God. He is the standard of righteousness. He is the standard of holiness. He is the standard of justice. The Psalms, maybe we can get a little bit better idea. In fact, we could spend the whole study if we wanted to talk about God’s righteousness, His awesomeness, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, all of the superlatives that describe the character of God would make an amazing study. But we’ll just hit the tip of the iceberg to point to the ultimate standard of righteousness to begin to understand why atonement is necessary.
So if we turn over to the Psalms. Go to Psalm 145. Psalm 145. I tried to pick a psalm that kind of summarizes this amazing righteousness of our great God, and in Psalm 145, it goes on for quite a little bit about the amazing character of God. So Psalm 145, let’s notice verse 8. Psalms 145:8 Psalms 145:8The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
American King James Version×. It says, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He’s slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all. His tender mercies are over all His works.” So we see this ultimate standard of God’s righteousness being described, His perfect, holy, righteous character. Verse 10, he says, “All your work shall praise You, O Lord, and your saints shall bless You.” In fact, he continues on, “They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts and the glorious majesty of His kingdom.” So here we have God not only being described in His character, but also in His authority.
So His nature points to His perfect majesty, His perfect authority. It says in verse 13, “Your kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.” In fact, as we look down this section of Psalm 145, it continues to bring to mind His amazing attributes. Look at verse 17. It says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious,” in not just a few of His works, not just a couple of things, but, “in all things.” Right? In all His works.
Verse 18, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He’ll fulfill the desire of those who fear Him. He’ll also hear their cry and save them.” So ultimately, we have a God who is our Savior, who wants us to be a part of His family for eternity. That God is perfection, that God is pure, He is righteous, He is gracious, He is judge. Talks about that He will judge, even says, “He’s a God of wrath.” Why is He a God of wrath? Well, if we go back to our last Bible study, we talked about that at that time. He is a God of reckoning, and here, it points that out in verse 20, “The Lord preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked, He will destroy.” So because of His purity, because of His nature, because of His righteousness, evil can’t be allowed and so the wicked must be destroyed.
Ultimately, what we begin to see—and we can go to passage after passage, we won’t do that—but we see God’s amazing character, and that is the ultimate standard when it comes to who God is. And because God is righteous, there’s certain expectations that go with the character of God. In fact, one of the things that we begin to see is, how do you measure up to the standard of God? Is there some means by which we could look and say, “Well, this is where I’m at, this is where God is, how do I measure up?” If there was something that came to mind… is there anything that comes to mind in that regard? Something that defines what righteousness is? Something that maybe defines the standard of God more than just reading passages about His character and who He is? Anything come to mind in that sense?
Well, maybe this came to your mind. The law. Maybe more specifically, God’s law, but His law reflects His character. God’s law reflects His character, and His law that He gave wasn’t something that people just thought up. It wasn’t something that the Israelites thought up. God is the one who gave His law, and I think that’s an important aspect to begin with. If we are to rise to the standard, what about the law and how does that fit in? Well, this law of God reflects who He is.
If you turn over to Isaiah chapter, 33 verse 22…just a few pages over from where we are in the Psalms. In Isaiah chapter 33, it leaves absolutely no doubt about the origin of the law. So let’s notice it just to remind ourselves. Isaiah 33 verse 22. Isaiah 33:22 Isaiah 33:22For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.
American King James Version×. It says, “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver. The Lord is our king, He will save us.” Then it goes on to some other things. But the critical thing is He is the lawgiver, and as the One who gave the law, we can begin to understand who He is, what He’s like. We can understand His nature. We can understand His character. We can understand His holiness. We can understand the standard of righteousness that much better because the law is a reflection of the character of God. And that will become critical as we answer that question, why atonement is necessary.
The law reflects God’s character. In fact, as we look at this particular concept, we know the law is holy. We know the commandment is holy, just, and good. Remember where it says that? It’s over in the book of Romans, right? Romans 7:12 Romans 7:12Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
American King James Version×talks about that very fact. It’s not something that’s going to change, it’s not something that’s going to pass away, and God gives us His law that always was. Right? It reflects His character. It is, it will be, and as He calls us to a relationship with Him, He says, “This is an agreement, and this law is a basis for that.”
So if you look over at Jeremiah 31:31 Jeremiah 31:31Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
American King James Version×, we have a section that deals with the New Covenant here and it points very clearly that that law of God, that holy, righteous law isn’t done away. That it still ties into this relationship that we have with God. Let’s notice it over in Jeremiah 31 verse 31. You’re probably very familiar with it. It says, “ ‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke though I was a husband to them,’ says the Lord, ‘but this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ says the Lord. ‘I’ll put my law in their minds. I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God, they will be My people.’”
And so as we begin to consider this, that the law is reflecting God’s character, we see that it’s a binding agreement. We see it’s a covenantal agreement. It’s an agreement that as we become God’s people, we have responsibilities. We have responsibilities to be like God, to strive to put on His character, to put on His attitude, and the law of God is what reflects that character. In fact, if we look a little closer about that, how does the law help us in that regard? Is it that, “Well, I can keep it perfectly? And if I do it perfectly, then God has to accept me?” Is that the nature of the law? If you had to say, “Well okay, why? Why the law?”
Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
American King James Version×answers that question for us. If you turn over to Romans chapter 3, verse 20, it reminds us of the purpose of the law. Romans chapter 3, verse 20 is probably one of those passages that is probably the most succinct when it comes to identifying the law as it identifies its purpose. Here is what it says, Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
American King James Version×. It says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” So the law in reflecting God’s character reveals to us what’s righteous and what is not. It shows us what sin is. It reveals sin. So by the law is the knowledge of sin. Paul wrote so much about this in so many different places in Romans as well, where He says, “I wouldn’t have known what sin is without the law.” So the law reveals what sin is, it helps us to understand the character of God. It helps us to identify that by showing what sin is. And the amazing part in these things is that the law itself is perfect. It’s a perfect reflection of God’s character, but as Paul says here and in so many other places, the law doesn’t make us perfect because we can’t keep it perfectly.
So as this reflection of His character and as this identifying factor to help us to recognize sin, we begin to see that we don’t measure up. We can’t measure up. We still have a problem. We don’t measure up to the standard of God and His righteousness. And that law then, I think shows us something pretty critical then—that mankind is a lawbreaker. Right? Man breaks God’s law, and as we understand His law that’s reflecting His character, we can’t help but see we violate God’s law. Maybe a different way to say it is it’s just sin. Right? We are sinners. We are lawbreakers. We are lawbreakers. We probably have that passage memorized that’s over in 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×that tells us what is sin, right? Sin is the transgression, or the violation, or the breaking of God’s law. And time after time after time, Paul discusses the fact that man is a lawbreaker. Maybe another memory verse is that passage in Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×, where it says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We recognize that very fact through the law itself. We recognize that we are lawbreakers. But it goes beyond that as well. It goes beyond, “Well, I made a mistake and I violated God’s law.”
What we should begin to see is the fact that it’s our nature to violate God’s law. It’s our human nature, and by our human nature, that’s who we are. A normal, natural, everyday human being is a lawbreaker. It’s who we are. “We are by nature,” Paul wrote, “sons of disobedience. We are children of wrath,” He wrote in the book of Romans. He wrote similar things to Ephesus as well. That by nature, we are sons of disobedience. By nature, we’re children of wrath. And so God’s law helps us to recognize that very fact, that we are lawbreakers by nature.
In fact, the Gospel of Mark puts it in a succinct way. Mark chapter 7, verse 21. In Mark chapter 7, here Christ is speaking and He points to this very fact to help us to recognize our very nature and who we are, because by nature we are sinners; by nature, we are lawbreakers. And look at how he describes it here in verse 21 of Mark chapter 7. He says, “For from within, out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.” It says, “All these evil things come from within and defile a man,” because that’s who we are. That’s who we are, and whether we read it in the words of Christ here or whether we go back to Jeremiah 17 where he says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and who can know it?” Well God knows it, but we have a tendency to fool ourselves.
So it points out very clearly that’s our nature, that’s who we are. Without God’s intervention in our lives, that defines who we are, that defines mankind. We can go to passages the talk about the wickedness of man, the talk about the blasphemy, the talk about the evil. Paul even wrote to the Corinthians that we have a tendency as human beings to suppress the truth. We don’t want to know the truth. We don’t want to deal with the truth. We want to turn our back to truth. In fact, let’s turn there because that is a pretty cool section of Scripture. It’s right at the very beginning of Romans. If you go to Romans chapter 1, it talks about our nature. In fact, throughout the book of Romans chapter 5, 6, 7, 8, all zero in on who we are as normal, natural, everyday human beings without the Holy Spirit of God. Romans chapter 1 focuses on that as well. Let’s notice what Paul was inspired to write.
Romans chapter 1, let’s begin in verse 18. He says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God is showing it to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so they are without excuse.” In other words, if we wanted to see God in the creation, we could, but instead, our human nature turned its back on God. Verse 21, “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. They changed the glory of the incorruptible God to an image made like corruptible man.” And so it goes on to say, “Well okay, God gave them over to that.” God said, “If that’s your choice, live with it.” Live with it.
So we begin to see that’s our nature, that’s who we are. Without God, we are spiritually blinded, we suppress the truth, we can’t handle the truth, we don’t want to live the truth. In fact, a little bit later here in the book of Romans, it says, “Our normal, natural, carnal mind, our fleshly mind is enmity against God,” in Romans chapter 8, verse 7. We are absolutely opposed to God, so when you wonder what’s going on in the world today, well, no wonder. No wonder God is not in these people’s lives, and that’s who we are. That is who we are without the intervention of God.
Now, nobody wants to stay there, but what it begins to show us is that this is something that can’t be a part of God’s Kingdom, can’t be a part of His way, and so as God has to deal with these things. He wants to bring human beings into His family. They sure can’t come in in this kind of an attitude. They can’t come in with that kind of character. And so ultimately, God judges—God’s judgment—God judges sin. God judges sin. He punishes evil. Now, I think it’s also important to recognize, how does He do that? By what means does He judge sin or sinners for that matter? And when you think about God’s sentence on the sin and on the sinner, by what means does that happen? Hopefully what we’re gonna find here is there’s an interconnectedness to all of this that’s gonna lead us right back to the necessity of atonement.
You see, He judges according to the law, doesn’t He? According to God’s law. If you’re still here in Romans… actually, I can stay on the same page. Romans chapter 2, look at verse 2. Romans 2:2 Romans 2:2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
American King James Version×, we see God’s judgment spoken of here. He says, “But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things,” some of those things we read about in chapter 1. He says, “But we know that the judgment of God is in that way.” Verse 3, “You think this, O man, you who judge of those practicing such things and doing the same thing, that you’ll escape the judgment of God?” Well, we read about God’s righteousness. We read about those things back in the Psalms. He goes on, he says, verse 4, “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, long-suffering, and knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” But he says, “In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart, you’re treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
So God will judge. He will judge sinner and sin alike. Verse 6, “Who will render to each one according to His deeds.” He says, “Eternal life to those who are doing good, seek for glory, honor, and immortality.” He says, “But those who are self-seeking, that don’t obey the truth,” he says, verse 9, “tribulation, anguish on every soul who does evil.” And so he points out the fact that this judgment is done by the law. God judges by the law and so His sentence is according to the law. In fact, as we read, maybe we can finish this up, verse 11, “There’s no partiality with God, for as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law. As many as have sinned in the law, will be judged by the law.” So God’s law, it’s by that means He judges us. He says, “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” Of course, that begins to show the need. That begins to point to the question, “Well if that’s God’s standard of judgment, how is that possible for me to measure up? How can I measure up to that standard of God when it says, “He’s not partial. Sinners will be judged”? He says, “There’s going to be a rendering that’s going to take place.” And so we look at these things and we recognize the fact that God has to judge sin.
In fact, we can read these sections about punishment for those who do not repent. In fact, it’s eternal punishment. Malachi talks about the fact that those that will not repent will be ashes under the soles of the righteous’ feet. Revelations 20 talks about the lake of fire and those who will not repent will be judged and sentenced. So God doesn’t hedge on those kinds of things. But what I hope we begin to see then is that we need a solution. In fact, we need an awesome God who is all-righteous to give us a solution, to make a way, because we can’t earn a way. We can’t do it ourselves. It’s not possible for us to rise to the standard of perfection, so we need a solution. Hopefully, what we begin to see is that we need reconciliation. We need reconciliation. We need to be brought into a right relationship with God. We need sin removed. We can’t do that ourselves so sin has to be removed from us. We need God’s favor. We need to be brought into a right relationship with God so that we can have fellowship, we can have a right relationship with God. In fact, we need to—what’s the word that we sing? I’m trying to think of the hymn—assuage the judgment that God has for us. Left to our own means, what’s the only outcome? The only other outcome is death, right?
That’s it. The wages of sin is death. That was very clear on that. We have this need, so hopefully as we understand the perfection of God, His standards reflected in His law and His character, that we as a people don’t measure up to that standard. We can’t measure up to that standard. We have the need to be brought into a right relationship with God. We need to be reconciled. We need to be forgiven, so how can that possibly happen? We have this need. What’s the means? How is it possible? You see, the only way that that’s possible is through atonement. It’s the only way that’s possible, the only way that sin can be forgiven. It’s the only way that we can be reconciled to God, is through atonement. Atonement is the means of reconciliation. Atonement is the means to be brought into a right relationship with God, and there are amazing things that the word of God says about the nature of atonement.
When you think about atonement, hopefully will bring you back to some of the sections of Scripture that point to the necessities of atonement. Part of the necessities of atonement is shed blood. Whether you’re in the Old Testament and you’re talking about bulls and goats, or whether you’re in the New Testament talking about the blood of Jesus Christ, the shedding of blood is in the heart and core of atonement. Because atonement requires a sacrifice. It requires a sacrifice, and to be brought into the right relationship with God, it’s not just talking about a physical sacrifice. Those sacrifices that are described back in Leviticus 16, other sacrifices throughout Leviticus being described, they point to the ultimate atonement, to the ultimate sacrifice. Of course, that’s through Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ Himself. Maybe we can remind ourselves of that very fact.
Over in 1 Peter chapter 1. 1 Peter chapter 1, notice verse 18. Only we jump back one verse. Maybe we should go back two verses. If we go back two verses, it begins to make this very first point that we started with, that God is the ultimate standard of righteousness. Verse 16, God says, “Be holy for I am holy.” In fact, that’s a quote, I believe, it’s from Leviticus. It’s from Leviticus. So he says, “Be holy.” How is that possible? Well, we need to be atoned for. We need reconciliation. So he says, “Call on the Father who without partiality judges according to each one’s work. Conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.” All right, my work doesn’t measure up to that standard. It doesn’t rise to the level of the perfection of God. Now what? Well, verse 18 begins to describe it, “Knowing you weren’t redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but instead,” he says, “you were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ as a Lamb without blemish and without spot.”
So through the sacrificial shedding of blood, we can be reconciled. We can be redeemed. And so it’s through the atonement, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that makes it possible to be brought back to a right relationship with God. And then this becomes critical. We could go through some of the other passages here in the New Testament that point to this very fact, that Christ fulfilled those sacrifices in the Old Testament. Hebrews 9 talks a lot about that. You compare that to what was written back in Leviticus 16, it’s pretty amazing, the connections there, and unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of time to talk about that tonight, but he talks about the fact that Christ was the unblemished sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice. That He was sacrificed according to the law, that He fulfilled the role of high priest, that He was sacrificed on our behalf. Hebrews deals with all of those aspects of the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
In fact, there’s an interesting word that the apostle John uses to kind of tie some of those thoughts together. One place that that’s mentioned is over in 1 John. Let’s see how this ties in with this concept of the means of atonement or the way to reconciliation. Think about that as we turn over to 1 John chapter 2, verse 2. 1 John 2:2 1 John 2:2And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
American King James Version×. It starts off by saying, “He Himself,” pointing to Jesus Christ, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” He’s the propitiation.
That’s a word we probably use every single day, don’t we? When’s last time you used the word “propitiation”? Well, maybe the last time I read 1 John here was the last time. I always think of a story about a little kid who was in his Sabbath lessons, and he was learning about all the “-ations”. He was learning about justification and reconciliation, and propitiation and all these things. He goes to school the next week and the teacher started talking about procrastination, and she asks the class, “Anybody know what procrastination is?” The little boy raised his hand. He says, “I know, I know.” So the teacher called on him, she said, “What is it?” He said, “I don’t know but my church believes in it.” So, there’s your one for tonight, right?
All right, propitiation. Literally, it means, “atoning sacrifice.” Atoning sacrifice, so Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice. Well, what’s atoned for? It atones for sin. It’s a sacrifice for sin. He’s the propitiation. It takes us from a place of judgment to a place of reconciliation, so that God judges sin and Christ paid the price, in a sense that substitutionary sacrifice for us. He is our propitiation, our atoning sacrifice. I think it’s… it’s just a couple of chapters over? I think it says it again. Where is that? I think it’s… there it is. Chapter 4, verse 10. 1 John 4:10 1 John 4:10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
American King James Version×, same book, 1 John 4:10 1 John 4:10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
American King James Version×. He says this, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
So he makes it very clear. God is the standard of righteousness. He is the standard of holiness. There’s no one holy like our God, and Christ is that ultimate sacrifice, that ultimate propitiation, that atoning sacrifice for our sins because He loves us. Because He loves us, He gave His son as the atonement, that propitiation, that sacrifice on our behalf. So it removes this enmity between God and us. The propitiation, the atoning sacrifice, because as a man, Christ atoned for the sins of men. As God, He atoned once and for all. He offered, can we say an infinite sacrifice that was to satisfy God’s judgment on our behalf? I think we could probably say that.
In fact, when we look at how important that sacrifice is, and we compare what John says about this atoning sacrifice to Leviticus chapter 16. If you remember on the Day of Atonement, that was the one and only day that the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, into the Most Holy Place, into the presence of God before the mercy seat, one time. And it was only that one day, and it was only with blood. Well, it points to the ultimate sacrifice. The only way into the family of God, the only way to be a part of the Kingdom of God, the only way to have sin atoned for, is through Jesus Christ.
That’s the only means of atonement, is through that sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In fact, in 2 Corinthians, he describes that a little bit further. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17. Here, as Paul writes to Corinth, he describes this tension because of sin between us and a holy God, and he shows the means of reconciliation, he shows the way to reconciliation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So we are in 2nd…I’m in 1 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, notice verse 17. He says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. Old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” How is that possible? By the atonement, we can be reconciled to God. So he says, verse 18, “All things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and He’s given us the ministry of reconciliation.”
So that moves it to the next level. We are to be reconcilers as well. He describes that in verse 19. He says, “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.” So by means of the sacrifice of Christ, God’s judgment can be assuaged. We can escape judgment, if you want to put it in those terms, through repentance and the sacrifice of Christ, and that’s the only means. And so we can be forgiven, our sins can be purged, we can be clean. God has mercy on us as we repent, and He applies that sacrifice of Christ to us, and this conflict between us and God, between perfection and sin, has a resolution. There can be peace. We can be brought into a right relationship with God. And so as we need reconciliation, and as we have an atonement through the sacrifice of Christ, that brings results. What’s the result of the atonement?
I’ll put it in these terms. Justification, we can be justified before God. We can be justified by God, and when you think of what justification, that’s another one of those “-ation” words, right? Like procrastination and propitiation and all those things. Justification, it means, “being brought into a right relationship with God.” It means, “being declared righteous.” It means, “being forgiven.” It means, “having that sacrifice applied to us.” It’s a means of being… well, like a judge would judge a court case and you were found not guilty. You see, we stand before God guilty of sin, but because of the atonement, we are justified. We are declared righteous because when God looks at us and we’re repentant before Him, He sees the sacrifice of Christ, and that guilty plea is assuaged. We are closed in righteousness, declared righteous before God. And so the result of atonement is justification.
Romans chapter 3… well, let’s turn over there for just a second. How are we doing? We got a couple minutes here. Romans chapter 3, let’s go to verse 23. Of course, 23 is that memory part of Romans 3:20 Romans 3:20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
American King James Version×. He says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Now, we can talk about the solution here. It says, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” How are we redeemed? How are we reconciled? It’s by means of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
That’s how it’s made possible. We’re justified because we earned it, because we deserve it? No, no. We hadn’t earned it. We didn’t deserve it. That’s why he says, “Freely by His grace.” Because God favors us, He loves us, He cares for us. It’s by His grace that His son was sacrificed on our behalf, and so that redemption, that reconciliation, he says, “Is in Christ Jesus.” Verse 25, oh, there’s that word again, “whom God sent forth as a propitiation by His blood.” It’s a blood sacrifice on our behalf, and so “through faith to demonstrate His righteousness,” Christ’s righteousness, “because in His forbearance, God passed over the sins that were previously committed.” You see, He passes over the judgment due us. Christ paid that penalty.
Verse 26, “To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness,” not our righteousness, but God’s righteousness, “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” So we get back to the standard of righteousness and that we can be declared righteous. God sees us as righteous. Look at the story of Abraham. He imputes righteousness to us because of Jesus Christ, and so because of His atoning sacrifice, because of His propitiation, we can be reconciled to God. We can be brought back to a right relationship. We can be sin-free, right?
We can be declared righteous. We can be—what’s the other word I was looking for? It’s not coming to mind now—but lawfully righteous before God because of the sacrifice of Christ, and this all points back to what He says here in Romans, “His awesome nature.” He says, “To demonstrate at this time His righteousness.” It demonstrates God’s awesomeness, His holiness, His character is all demonstrated in that. And so no wonder Paul says then, “Where is the boasting then?” It didn’t have anything to do with me. Now yeah, okay, I’ve got to repent, I’ve got to change my attitude, I’ve got to strive to live God’s way. But God did the atoning work through His Son, Jesus Christ, and that’s where it becomes critical then.
So we can read passages like Romans 8:1 Romans 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
American King James Version×. Because of this atoning sacrifice that we have accepted in faith on our behalf, because I have faith that Jesus Christ died for me, for my sins, I trust God will apply that sacrifice to me so I can be brought into a right relationship with Him. And when we’re in that frame of mind, a repentant frame of mind, here’s the result. Verse 1 in chapter 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” So there’s no condemnation from God. Yeah, but He demanded that through His law, through that law that reflects His character and even though I’m a lawbreaker. But He applies the solution because I go to Him in faith and in repentance, and He applies the atonement to me, and I’m declared righteous. I am, at that very moment, I’m sin-free. I’m sin-free. I’m acquitted of guilt, is another way to think of justify. I’m acquitted of guilt.
Of course, it’s interesting in that reconciliation. Now there’s an expectation as well. It’s not like that’s the end of the story. You know, there’s more to it than just that, because now that I’m justified, I’m supposed to live in righteousness. Right? So no wonder He says, “All right. Quit walking according to the flesh. Start walking according to the Spirit.” Because that justification should lead us to live in righteousness, to put on more and more of God’s holy, righteous, perfect character. And so He’s restored us to a right relationship, and our response to that restoration, or reconciliation, or the fact that we are redeemed, should be we should strive to stay in that relationship, to walk His way.
In fact, Paul talked about this to the Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 9. 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 9. Here we see the importance of this very fact. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 1 Thessalonians 5:9For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
American King James Version×says, “God did not appoint us to wrath.” So we’ve got a God that’s on our side, He loves us, He wants us to choose the best, so He didn’t appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. You know, when you’re feeling kind of down and discouraged, you wonder if God cares for you, you can read this passage. Is God on your side? Does He want the best for you? Absolutely. There’s no doubt. This is one of those passages that you could look at and put your own name in here.
God didn’t appoint you to wrath, but He appointed you to salvation and it’s by means of the propitiation, it’s by means of the atonement of Jesus Christ “who died for us,” verse 10 says, “that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him,” and those are comforting words, he says. “Comfort each other and edify each other” with that very fact. And so he points that out, and now because of the result of atonement, because of justification, now I’ve got to live God’s way. I’ve got to strive to follow Him. I’ve got to obey Him. All of those things are logical results of the atonement and the resulting justification that we have. Peter talked about that.
Let’s rehearse that from 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 21. It starts with a familiar passage here in 1 Peter chapter 2, notice verse 21. 1 Peter 2:21 1 Peter 2:21For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:
American King James Version×. He says, “For to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps.” He says, “He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth, who when He was reviled did not revile in return when He suffered. He didn’t threaten but committed Himself to Him, who judges rightly. Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were healed.”
And so we come full circle as we see God’s holiness and His standard of perfection that must be met. There’s no way around it, no way around it, and yet we are sinners. Our nature falls short of the glory of God, but through Jesus Christ, we can fulfill that need for redemption, for reconciliation, and through a repentant heart, we can come before God. He applies that sacrifice of Christ, and we are acquitted of guilt. We can be brought into a right relationship, and then it should result in our obedience. It should result in following God. It should result in striving to live righteously, as Peter writes, that we are to live for righteousness. Because we have a right relationship with God, we’ve been restored, we have access to God. Just like that priest going into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, we have direct access to our Almighty God. Should that change anything? We have peace between God and us. He’s not holding us accountable when we’re repentant because He’s applied the sacrifice of Christ.
Even that passage that says, “We’ve got an advocate with the Father through Jesus Christ.” We have an amazing Father who gave us a solution for sin, and Paul talks so much about this. Maybe we can look at one other verse in the book of Romans. In Romans chapter 5, he has maybe a little bit of a summary of some of the things that we’ve talked about tonight right at the beginning of chapter 5, Romans chapter 5, verse 1. Romans 5:1 Romans 5:1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×. It starts out talking about the justification we’ve received through the atonement, the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He says, “Therefore having been justified by faith.” What’s the faith? I have faith in the sacrifice of Christ on my behalf and that faith is demonstrated in the fact that I repent and I go before God and seek forgiveness and want a right relationship so He will apply that sacrifice. So I’ve been justified by faith in the sacrifice of Christ. So we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. So we circle around to the atonement of Christ.
He also says then, “Through whom also we have access through faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” In fact, he goes on, “Not only that, we glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.” We begin to see the character of God come out here. “Knowing tribulation produces perseverance.” Verse 4, “Perseverance character, and character hope, and hope doesn’t disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” He says, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
He died for us. “For scarcely a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.” But verse 8 “God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We didn’t have to be perfect for Christ to die. See, God provided the solution before we even knew there was a need for a solution, right? That’s what God did. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than having been justified by His blood, the result of atonement is justification, acquittal, brought into right relationship with God, declared righteous. All right. “We’re justified by His blood,” now it says, “We shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Verse 11, “And not only that but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” So Paul puts it so very clearly. Why is atonement necessary? What’s the need behind atonement? It’s sin.
It’s sin. It’s our nature. We have a problem with sin. It’s our very heart and core, outside of the bounds. Now when we have God’s Spirit and His law, we should recognize what is righteous, what is good, so that we can repent because we’ve got an amazing Father who gave His Son as a solution for sin. It’s a way that He can deal with it, the way we should deal with it. And so when you boil it all down, it is an amazing blessing that God gave us a special day to recognize this very fact. Why atonement is necessary and how to deal with the need, how to deal with sin. It’s through the sacrifice of Christ, so God gave us the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23 discusses that. Leviticus 16. You can take time to read through those sections of Scripture and read about the details in the Old Testament and see how they apply to the sacrifice of Christ.
That Day of Atonement is a wonderful way to remind us not only of the need but, I think most importantly, to the solution to sin. So God gave us the wonderful blessing of atonement. I’ve gotta zip through that really quick tonight, a lot of stuff there but we’ll discuss it further later on, and I guess that will wrap it up for tonight.
Our next study in the series will be in two weeks. Oh, that’s right, we’re off. Three weeks. It’s gonna be three weeks away. What day is that? The 24th, is it?
[Woman] September the 7th.
[Steve Myers] Oh, that’s right. Okay, September 7, so check out our web, make sure you got the day right; you’ll be better off than I am. We’ll hope to see you that night as we continue our series on “Let Us Keep the Feasts.”