As we continue in Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he’s laying out for us the righteousness that only comes through Christ. It’s something that could never be obtained through our good works.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
This one passage is absolutely jam-packed with truth. We need to see it in all of its beauty. It’s a wonderful description of God’s purpose in Christ Jesus.
The first thing Paul says is that God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement. Some translations use the word, propitiation. But just what does that mean to us?
In the Greek language that word literally means the atoning victim that brings satisfaction. Something was done to displease God. But a sacrifice was offered to do away with that displeasure. Jesus Christ was this sacrifice.
It’s interesting to note that this word also had another use. When the Jews translated the Old Testament into Greek, they used this word to indicate the Mercy Seat. That was the cover of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Mercy Seat was where the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled each year to atone for the sins of Israel. That makes Jesus Christ our “Mercy Seat”. His blood now covers our sin.
The next sentence in the above verse is just as important. It explains God’s reasoning behind the Lord’s sacrifice.
Paul tells us that God felt the need to demonstrate His justice. That’s something that many people trip over in their spiritual walk. It’s the old argument that “If God is good, why did He allow this thing to happen?” “This thing”, being whatever evil thing the person is using for an example.
The above passage says that God used self-restraint so that He could ignore the sins that are committed. Understand this – God wants to punish all sin. However, He restrains Himself from following through with it immediately.
Why would God ever choose to do such a thing? Paul gives us the reason. God lets all of our sins go unpunished in the short term, so that He can place them on the perfect Sacrifice; Jesus Christ.
People get upset when they see what they consider to be huge sins. Things like drug cartels destroying the lives of thousands of people. They see dictators murdering those who oppose them. They say that if God is so good, why does He allow this? These murderers should be immediately judged.
What we don’t understand is that God is perfectly just. If He judged these evil people immediately, then He would have had to judge me immediately the first time I disobeyed my parents. Personally, I’m immensely grateful for God’s self-restraint.
God is giving everyone the opportunity to turn to Christ in repentance. Then, through faith in His blood, allow the atoning work of Christ to give us a “not guilty” verdict.
Even though it was my sin that displeased God, it was the sacrifice of Christ that put me back into right relationship with Him. What a beautiful picture of Jesus’ work on the cross.
We should be proclaiming this to all who will listen.
Question: How grateful are you for this atoning work of Christ Jesus?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi