Matthew 1:21 (CSB) She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

This has been one of the most difficult chapters to write because there is so much to be packed into the doctrine of propitiation. The only way I could approach this is to start at the beginning and start at the high altitude and work our way down. To understand propitiation, we must understand God, his law, his love and his holiness.

What can incite the wrath of God? It is when we decide that we don’t need his way but we insist on own our way. Parents recognize this in their own kids. But what about our own lives. We are not talking about wanting cookies for breakfast and not getting them. We are talking about dismissing God’s words for life entirely and try to save ourselves. In that vein, the world thinks that surely because God is love, then he can simply overlook such details and give us a free pass, perhaps even grade on a curve.

You might laugh but some Christians actually think that.

Have you ever heard, perhaps in a church, bible study or even a Christian conference, “Are you saved?” to which someone has responded, “Man, I sure hope so.” Brothers and sisters, don’t be surprised! I overheard that exchange not 10 feet away and waited with bated breath to hear the punchline. But there was none. He was serious.

That exchange happened at a Pastor’s conference.

This is why we must understand His holiness. Yes, the holiness of God can big and scary but if by the Spirit alone, we can grasp and understand it, we can rest assured of His goodness and salvation.

In the beginning, God gives us just one command–Follow this one simple rule and God will take care it all. Let see how that unfolds:

Genesis 3:1–7 (CSB)
1 Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden.

3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”

4 “No! You will certainly not die,” the serpent said to the woman.

5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

In other words, this is what I think Eve was thinking “Hmm, I want my way. Man, it sure does feel like God is holding out on me. If I do this thing, sure I will get what God has been keeping from me.”

What did God say would happen? Go back and read:

Genesis 2:15-17 (CSB) The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

Forthwith, the wages of sin is death.

Did God kill them right away? No. But what cannot be denied, evident by the entire history of mankind, is that when sin came into this universe, all of the cosmos shattered and broke into a million pieces.

Because of sin, God’s wrath and judgment fall in three ways: eventual death, sudden death and a giving over to what we want. All three ways lead to separation from God.

Genesis 3:15–24 (CSB)
15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

16 He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children with painful effort. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.

17 And he said to the man, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

20 The man named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living.

21 The LORD God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them.

22 The LORD God said, “Since the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.”

23 So the LORD God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

24 He drove the man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.

In other words, life is going to be hard and at the end, you are going to die.

But let us take a quick look at the sudden execution of God’s judgment:

Genesis 13:13 (CSB) (Now the men of Sodom were evil, sinning immensely against the LORD.)

Genesis 18:20-21 (CSB) Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is immense, and their sin is extremely serious. 21 I will go down to see if what they have done justifies the cry that has come up to me. If not, I will find out.”

So based on Genesis 2 and Romans 6:23, what do you think is going to happen to the Sodom and Gomorrah? The judgment here is obvious, “Well, that is easy, they were wicked and they deserve to die.”

Let’s go to other places where it is not so obvious.

God commands. Pharaoh disobeys. Pharaoh pretends to confess his sins but as soon as the current plague disappears, he sins and hardens his heart. {#return-note-3393-2.simple-footnote}

God warned Pharaoh of his judgment and wrath. God’s own people believed.

But Pharaoh did not believe.

Exodus 12:29-32 (CSB) Now at midnight the LORD struck every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and every firstborn of the livestock. 30 During the night Pharaoh got up, he along with all his officials and all the Egyptians, and there was a loud wailing throughout Egypt because there wasn’t a house without someone dead. 31 He summoned Moses and Aaron during the night and said, “Get out immediately from among my people, both you and the Israelites, and go, worship the LORD as you have said. 32 Take even your flocks and your herds as you asked and leave, and also bless me.”

Judgment of a family who stolen from God. Joshua 7

Judgment of idol worshippers. Exodus 33

The judgment of nations that surrounded Israel. Ezekiel 12-35.

Judgment of entire nations. Book of Revelation.

I am not going to sugar coat this at all. Sometimes, the women and the children were judged. Upon hearing that, our minds instantly click and thinks, “Those are women and children, they are innocent. They have done nothing wrong. They have been not been tried and judged.”

Perhaps they were innocent in the laws of their land. But did they sin against God? Strike that—did we not all sin against God?

Romans 3:23 (CSB) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;

Romans 5:12 (CSB) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.

James 2:10 (CSB) For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all.

If this is your first time hearing this or this is your millionth time hearing this, it is not easy to hear. This is not soft chew candy. This is tough, gristly meat cooked burnt to a well-done crisp that you have to chew on for days and even then, it’s painful to swallow.

Let’s hammer this point and let us see how you, me, my kids, my future little babies, your babies, even my sainted grandma all were born into:

Ephesians 2:1-3 (CSB) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

We were all born by nature children of the wrath of God. To simply put it, we were born dead.

John 3:36 (CSB) The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

Finally, beyond sudden judgment and eventual judgment, there is a wrath that is not so obvious but it is where God simply gives us over to what we want. We keep suppressing His truth and we keep doing what we want. God simply goes, “You think your way is better, fine, go. Have it your way.”

That should scare the living daylights out of you.

So what then?

Here is the greatest news that the world has ever known or will ever know:

For those who would believe in the Son of God then all the wrath, hatred and judgment that was rightfully meant for those same sinners fall then upon the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord.

His perfect obedient life, called out to us by the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit, as he gives his life over, nails himself to the cross and takes on the full wrath of the Father and the forsaking of the Spirit so for that those who believe in Him would never experience that.

God loves you so much. Before the creation of the world, he loved you. He looks upon all eternity and declares, “I must have you in my family. You are my son. You are my precious daughter. Yet you are running from me and you are so far from me. I cannot count on you to come back to me. You have no power to do so. Yet, I have all the power. I will send my Son and he will close that gap with his own life.”

Isaiah 53:10 (CSB)
10 Yet the LORD was pleased to crush him severely. When you make him a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the LORD’s pleasure will be accomplished.

God the Father loved you so much that it pleased Him to send His Son to the cross.

Father’s joy. Likewise, Christ loved you so much that for His glory, he saved you to Himself:

Isaiah 43:25 (CSB)
25 “I am the one, I sweep away your transgressions for my own sake and remember your sins no more

And Christ did saved us with all humility and joy.

Philippians 2:5–8 (CSB)
5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,

6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited.

7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man,

8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.

How do we know this? How do we know we are saved by God through the life and death of Christ Jesus? Then answer is God. Namely, the Holy Spirit.

The Produce of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 (CSB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.

Matthew 7:15-20 (CSB) “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

The evidence of the Spirit of God within us who produces His fruit.

The Leadership of the Spirit

Romans 8:3-7 (CSB) For what the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. 6 Now the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace.

The Holy Spirit leads us, guides us…

Romans 8:7 The mindset of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. 8 (CSB) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The Holy Spirit enables us to obey God…

Romans 8:9-10 (CSB) You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

1 John 5:1 (CSB) Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of him.

John 3:6-8 (CSB) Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

John 10:9-10 (CSB) I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

The Holy Spirit makes us fully alive.

Romans 8:12-13 (CSB) So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Mark 9:47-49 (CSB) And if your eye causes you to fall away, gouge it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For everyone will be salted with fire.

The Holy Spirit gives us the grace and the actual strength to violently, relentlessly, repentantly kill off your sin.

Romans 8:14-17 (CSB) For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,

The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are His children.

17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

The Holy Spirit does bring us to the inheritance of the Son. But get to that, the Holy Spirit carries us through the suffering and persecutions. Make no mistake: God will carry you through–but you will suffer just like your Savior.

John 14:15-17 (CSB) “If you love me, you will keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.

John 14:26 (CSB) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

John 15:26-27 (CSB) When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father —the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 You also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:13-14 (CSB) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

The Holy Spirit comforts us, reminds of us everything that God has taught

John 16:7-11 (CSB) Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin when we do not believe but reminds us of our righteousness because of everything that God has done in us.

From the Lord’s furious righteous anger against sin is meant to make all things right. All things right is joy, love, and happiness forever and ever.

Jesus Christ being our sacrificial lamb (propitiation) and scapegoat (expiation) is that singular righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled. In a nutshell, the law required in order for you and me to be in the presence of God, you will have to sacrifice a spotless lamb and take all the sins of the people, place them on a goat and release the goat into the wilderness never to return back again. Those rituals in the Old Testament was a foreshadow to whom Jesus Christ is and what he does. But those were just that: foreshadows. Never the real thing. The real thing is that man must shed his blood to atone for his sins. Herein lies the problem: Man is not perfect. Man cannot atone for his sin.

There is only One who is not only willing to save and able to save but he is the only one who has the power to save.

God came down from heaven, His Son, the Word of God and became flesh and entered into our jacked up, messed up, broken world as God but yet as a son, stepson, citizen, missionary, priest, and king. And by the word ‘king’, He did so not appear as an all-powerful warrior-king figure. He did so, humbly and mildly, as a tiny infant. He didn’t come into a wealthy family with all resources at his fingertips. He is born into a poor working-class family of an out-of-wedlock pregnant junior girl and with a stepdad. He didn’t live in a big huge metropolis where he could easily gain fame. No, he begins his life in a little rural small town and he begins his life on the run, like a fugitive, because the ruler of that time wanted him dead.

He faced the same temptations that we did, yet he did not sin.

He faced the same brokenness, heartache, sadness, loneliness, poverty, loved ones being sick, loved ones with terminal diseases, loved ones dying. He faced betrayal, distrust, fair-weather friends and faced people who would cheer for him one moment only turn around and want to murder him the next. Just like any of us but he did not sin.

He lived the life that we should have lived.

In doing so, he was the only one qualified to die the death that we should have died.

He was then taken to be stripped naked and then severely beaten, flogged and whipped to within an inch of His life. His body was so shredded to a point that you could see bones and muscle and guts underneath where there was skin as His body was covered in blood. A crown of thorns shoved upon His head, His beard yanked off His face. He was spat upon, slapped and mocked. His clothes and belongings were seized by the soldiers and bid upon in a game of craps. To top of all that, He was made to carry a wooden cross up a hill. There, upon that same, He would be nailed to that cross with spikes about 12 inches long through both wrists and one through both of his feet. They raised the cross up into a hole in the ground.

Jesus Christ is then crucified.

His body drained out of his own blood, sweat, tears, urine, and feces that gathered into a pool at the bottom of His cross. He faced the scorching heat of the day and the freezing coldness of the night. His bones never broken but just to be sure that Jesus was surely dead, a soldier stuck a spear through his ribcage straight into His heart where blood and water poured out.

It was at that moment, Jesus became every single sin ever committed by anyone who has put their faith and trust in God alone. Since the moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God to every sin that is being committed today to every sin that will ever be committed to the end of time by those God calls His people. In essence, He became a murderer, a rapist, a child molester, a thief, a hacker, a liar, pornstar, extreme fundamentalist and tax evader. He became religious, bitterness, deception, gluttony, lust, laziness, idolatry and pride. Not only did He bore the weight of all of the sins for all of His people but He bore all the sins ever committed against His people.

It was in that same moment, that His only begotten Son was indeed the only True Perfect Sacrifice and that His Son had become all of our sins, God the Father unleashed His wrath upon His Son and killing Him. That wrath was meant for you and me. We were meant to die that way. But because God loves us so much, Jesus Christ stood in our place and took the full force of God’s wrath that was meant for His people. It was in the moment, God the Father and God the Spirit turned their backs and forsook God the Son because Christ was the only one who could bear the weight of the sins of His people, of those who would believe and trust Him for eternal life.

Hebrews 2:17-18 (ESV) Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

1 John 2:2-3 (ESV) He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

1 John 4:10 (ESV) In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

God made Jesus to be the bearer of all the wrath that was in store for us. Listen, if you think that the wrath of God is simply contained to fire out of the heavens that take our temporal life on earth, think less of that and think about being separated from the love of God forever. That is called hell.

But with God’s will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ knew us so intimately and loved us so dearly, gives his life up and faces the wrath of the Father and the forsaking of Triune God, and allows his body to break so that we would be with Him forever.

This work was done once. Only once. We don’t need to crucify Christ again.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

For those who are in Christ, God is not out to get you. God is not out to pour his wrath on you. Will God discipline you if you try to go astray? That is to be sure. That is because He is your Father in heaven who loves you and would only do what any good Father would do but do so without shame, condemnation, abuse, torment, affliction. He would do so in perfect love, gentleness, kindness, never leaving you nor forsaking you forever.

But Christ, with his life and his love, protects and saves His people so that God can make all things right-standing with Himself.

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

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