Propitiation is a big Bible word that all
Christians need to learn and understand. It means that Christ
received the punishment for our sins in our place and forever
separated our sins from us as far as condemnation is
Propitiation is illustrated for us by the
Old Testament Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). On the tenth
day of the seventh month each year the High Priest would first
make a sacrifice for his sins so that he could serve as high
priest in making sacrifice for the sins of the people. Then he
would take two goats and cast lots over them. He would take
one goat, lay his hands on its head and confess the sins of
the people on this goat and thus transfer the sins of the
people to this goat. He would then cut the throat of this
goat, catch its blood in a bucket and burn the carcass on the
altar of brass. He would then walk into the tabernacle, put
live coals and incense on the altar of incense. This would
create a sweet smelling smoke which would filter through the
veil into the Holy of Holies. Inside the Holy of Holies was
where God dwelt in glory covered with a cloud. There was also
the Ark of the Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments.
These commandments demanded absolute perfection in order for
people to be accepted by God. On top of the ark was the mercy
seat covering it like a lid. The High Priest sprinkled the
blood on the mercy seat which evidenced that the death penalty
for sin had been carried out on an innocent substitute. God
symbolically indicated by the cloud and smoke that He was
looking at that goatís blood with obscured vision and
accepting it until the blood of His Son would be shed as the
genuine sacrifice for sin. The High Priest would then go out
of the Tabernacle into the court and take the other goat. He
would place his hands on the head of this goat and confess the
sins of the people over the head of this goat. A young man
would then lead this goat so far into the wilderness it could
never find its way back into the camp again. These two goats
pictured the work of Christ on the cross. He received the
punishment for our sins and then separated our sins from us as
far as the East is from the West. (Psalm 103:12).
With these thoughts in mind read 1st
John 2:1-2. In the first place we are commanded, "My little
children, these things I write to you, so that you may not
sinÖ" God never encourages us to sin but commands us not
to sin. The verse continues, "And if anyone sins", what
then? According to the teaching of some people it would have
to say "he is lost and needs to get saved again." But that is
not what it says. It continues, "We have an Advocate with
the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the
propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for
the whole world." The wonderful truth here is that when a
Christian sins he can still praise God that Christ has (1)
received the punishment for all of his sins, and (2) separated
his sins from him so that God never identifies him and his
sins together at the same time. The word advocate is best
understood by Americans with the word attorney or lawyer. The
Greek word is ""paraclete" which means "one called along
side". This is what a lawyer does. He is called alongside of
the defendant to plead his case. Christians have a Lawyer
representing them in Heaven. His name is Jesus. The prosecutor
is Satan. We read of his work in Revelation12:10, "ÖÖfor
the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God
day and nightÖ" We then read with triumphant joy, "ÖAnd
they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of
their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the
death." (Revelation 12:11.)
When we sin the devil points an accusing
finger at us and says, "Look at that hypocrite. He has
committed a sin for which he ought to be damned to Hell." Our
Lawyer steps forward and says, "Yes, it is awful. He has
sinned. It has hurt my fellowship with him and he will have to
be severely chastised for it, but Father, here are five wounds
in my body and there on the mercy seat is my blood. These are
evidence that I suffered the death penalty for all the sins
that this Christian has committed and ever will commit. On
this basis I plead that this sin not appear on his court
record." Praise God, Jesus Christ has never lost a case. To
the sinning Christian God gives this promise, "If we
confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1st
The Christian gains victory over the condemnation of sin by
the propitiation (or sacrifice) of Christ. When the publican
prayed in Luke 18:13, "ÖGod be merciful to me a sinner"Ö-the
word "merciful" is basically the same word that is translated
"propitiation" in 1st John 2:2. He was literally
praying, "God be propitiated (or mercy-seated) to me a sinner.
He was actually asking God to forgive his sins on the basis
that the death penalty for his sins had fallen on an innocent
substitute and the evidence was the blood on the mercy-seat.
Jesus then said, "I tell you, this man went down to his
house justifiedÖ" (Luke 18:14a).
III. THE BELIEVER GAINS VICTORY OVER SIN BY
It is common among Christians to talk about
the difficulties of living the Christian life because of the
weakness of the flesh, the pressures of the world, and the
temptations of Satan.
The question may rightfully come to many of
us, "Why am I not experiencing the victorious Christian life?
Why does it seem so few Christians I know are experiencing it?
The answer is because they are not appropriating all that has
been made available to them in Christ. They donít need
anything new. They need to appropriate what they already have.
THE BELIEVER APPROPRIATES GODíS TRUTH BY
To the extent Christians believe and
practice the following truths God has given determines the
degree of victory (joy, peace, and fellowship) they will have:
KNOW (Be certain these facts are true)
1. That we have received Jesus Christ as
Savior and that He lives within us. "But as many as
received him, to them He gave the right to become the children
of God, to those who believe on His name: John 1:12. "Examine
yourselves, as to whether you are in the faith; Test
yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is
in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified." 2nd
Corinthians 13:5. We must know that we have received Jesus
Christ by faith and that He lives within us.
That we have been placed into Christ. In
1st Corinthians 12:13 we are told that the Holy Spirit has
baptized (immersed) every believer into Christís body.
Romans 6:3 asks "Or do you not know that as many of us as
were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His
The scriptures are teaching us that every
believer has been placed into Christ. This means that in Godís
eyes every believer was in Christ in His death, burial, and
resurrection. When He "died for our sins" and received the
full penalty of the law for us we were in Him. The full
penalty of the law was also carried out on us for our sins.
When Christ rose again our spiritual nature rose with Him.
Since the full penalty of the law was carried out, it has no
more authority to be carried out on Christ or us again. (Read
RECKON (Believe these experiences to be
As a believer we know that Christ is in us
and that we are in Christ, so we are to reckon or account some
things to be true:
Reckon our sinful nature to be dead.
"Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to
sinÖ" Romans 6:11a. If we go by our feelings we will
say, "This means I am reckoning something to be true that is
false." But if we go by what God declares in His word, we
reckon by faith and say, "God has decreed that my fallen
nature was crucified with Christ and He sees it dead and
buried forever. Even though I feel the stirrings of that
fallen nature in my present experience, I will account that
what God says is true is true. I believe myself to be free
from the control of my old fallen nature."
Reckon our new nature to be alive in
Christ Jesus. As a
believer we say, "When I received Jesus
as my Savior I was born again by the
Holy Spirit. I received Godís life and became a "new creature
in Christ Jesus".
(2nd Corinthians 5:17) I therefore reckon or
account myself to be "alive unto
God through Jesus Christ Our Lord." (Romans 6:11b)
YIELD (Accept Godís will for your life)
We have only two options as to which we can
yield ourselves: Satan and sin, or God and righteousness.
Jesus stated "Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin."
John 8:34. The fact is that the lost person has no choice in
the matter. His/her fallen nature dictates yielding to Satan
and sin. That is the reason it is a universal truth that
"Öall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:23 Jesus went on to say, "Therefore if the Son
makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36. When
we experience Christís saving work we are set free to choose
to whom we shall yield ourselves.
Paul exhorts, "but present yourselves to
God, as being alive from the dead, and your members as
instruments of righteousness to God." Romans 6:13b.
At this exact point the marvelous grace of
God brings about a supernatural work in the believer that
lifts him or her on to the plain of victory. In contrast to
Satan, God never makes his children do anything. God only
works in cooperation with His childrenís will when their will
is yielded to do His will.
GOD ENABLES THE BELIEVER TO LIVE BY FAITH.
Every truly saved person knows they have
been saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8, 9). In
Romans 1:16 Paul spoke of this when he wrote, "For I am not
ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to
salvation for everyone who believesÖ" By grace, God
produces faith in a lost sinnerís heart through their hearing
the gospel of salvation. This is further confirmed in Romans
10:17 "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the
word of God."
In relation to the victorious Christian
life it is sad that many Christians miss the truth of Romans
1:17 "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from
faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith."
A lost sinner receives positional righteousness in Godís eyes
when he or she hears the gospel and God produces faith in
their heart to trust Christ to save them. What now?
After having been saved by grace through
faith is the new believer left on his or her own to live the
Christian life in their own strength? Many try, but they
always end in failure. It is when the believer yields his or
her body to the Lord with the sincere desire to live a life
totally pleasing to God that God begins to give them faith to
trust Him to do it. And, yes, God does it through His word.
His word becomes like a new book with His promises producing
greater and greater faith in the heart of His child. The
consequence is that "the righteousness of God is revealed" in
a practical way through the yielded believer believing God to
provide all the enablement they need to live for Him
GOD ENABLES THE BELIEVER TO OBEY FROM THE
"Yet you obeyed from the heart that form
of doctrine to which you were delivered". Romans 6:17b.
To obey from the heart is impossible for an
unsaved person. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against
God: for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can
be." Romans 8:7. It is also impossible for an un-yielded
believer to obey from the heart. It is only when our yielded
will comes into harmony with Godís will that God
supernaturally gives us a heart that delights to obey Him.
Jesus revealed how powerful this principle is when He said, "If
any one wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the
doctrine, whether it is from God, or whether I speak on My Own
authority." John 7:17.
As believers we provide a willingness to do
Godís will and God provides us a heart that delights in
obeying His will.
GOD ENABLES THE BELIEVER TO ALLOW JESUS TO
LIVE THROUGH THEM.
The Apostle Paul revealed how God enabled
him as a hated Jew with meager resources to shake the Roman
Empire to its foundations. "I have been crucified with
Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in
me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for
me." Galatians 2:20.
Paul reckoned his (fallen fleshly nature)
dead and his new nature alive unto Christ. He yielded himself
totally to Christ to do Godís will and Christ evangelized the
bulk of the Roman Empire through him and gave the world
fourteen epistles of Godís revelation.
To the extent that we do what Paul did
Christ will live in and work through the body we yield to Him.