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Propitiation — What the Cross Means to God

Romans 3:25 – 26 — “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

There is much that the Scripture shows of what the cross of Christ means to the sinner.  The verse prior to these that are under consideration speaks of justification freely given by grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  But toward God, Christ is the propitiation:

Isaiah 53:10 – 11 — “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.”

The God of the Bible is the God of all grace;  and He is also the God of all righteousness:

Exodus 34:5 – 7 — “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

How can the Lord Jehovah, forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin, while still “by no means” clear the guilty?  This can only be true because of the cross of Christ, where our sinless Lord Jesus, God’s spotless lamb, was made sin for us, that we could be made the righteousness of God IN HIM!

God can righteously forgive sin, because the payment is made and the punishment due has been met.  God can maintain perfect righteousness (“that He might be just”), while still giving righteousness (“and the justifier”) to the vilest of sinners (and the vilest of the self-righteous), because the blood of Christ has satisfied His righteousness.

Now we know how God could remit anyone’s sins, ever, and still be righteous:

Psalm 32:1 – 2 — “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”

Psalm 51:1 – 2 — “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”

How could the God of righteousness possibly righteously do this, except that He already looked forward the cross as the satisfactory payment for David’s iniquity.  The sins that are past are taken care of because of the blood of Christ.

We know from Leviticus 17:11 that it is “the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul”, but we also know from Hebrews 10:4 that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins”, so how could the blood atone for anyone?  Well, the blood of those animals only covered sins, they never took them away.  That is why, yearly, there was another “Day of Atonement”.  No affliction of the soul, no matter how sincere, could ever make one man righteous, nor could it take away sins.  But God did righteously not impute sin to David, not because of hyssop, or because of a truly broken spirit, but because the blood of Christ does not merely cover sins, but fully pays them to the uttermost!

God will truly by no means clear the guilty, but He did impute your sins and mine to Christ our Redeemer so that God could freely and mercifully and righteously justify any sinner who places his faith in the blood of Christ.

This is what the cross means to God!  The offering that Christ made of Himself for sin declares God’s righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, and it is how we now have redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

“Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Praise God our Father that He took it fully upon Himself to uphold all righteousness and grace, through the blood of His Son.


Romans Study

Charles Miller View All

Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.

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