The Power of Propitiation

Text: 1 John 2:1,2.

Proposition: The reality that we will sin is to be met with the reality that we have both and Advocate and the propitiation our Advocate brings to meet that sin.

Introduction: I was talking with a friend this week who told me about an accident he’d just had. It began with one of the wheel bolts that held the tire and rim onto the brake drum. But one of the bolts broke off. The guys at the shop assured him four were okay for a short while. But a short while turned into a long while and there were trips that had to be made. It turns out the four began to work them selves loose and then one late night when he had a load in the van all the wheel bolts came out and the rim simply rolled away as he was going about 80 K down the highway. The van immediately fell on the rear brake drum sending an impressive shower of sparks into the night and a howling screeching of metal on asphalt.

This morning I want to talk with you about something similar that can happen in our lives. We can begin with having all the bolts securely in place, we believe in Jesus and in heaven and hell and in faith in Him. But then one bolt comes loose and falls off. We don’t think that we really sin or that our sin is all that bad. Then we loose another bolt, we don’t think that God actually cares about our sin, in fact it’s almost as if He just created us and let us do what we will. Then another bolt falls out and we believe that there really is no law at all which means each person ought to decide for themselves what’s right or what’s wrong. When that bolt falls out the wheel comes off. What I’ve described is the descent our faith in Christ can take from a recognition of Christ as Savior and Lord to a position that just believing in Jesus is enough, there’s nothing we need to do as saved people. That position might be called Free Grace. Then we could easily slide to a belief called Deism, where we believe in a Creator but conclude that He leaves us up to our own choices about faith and obedience to Him. The last bolt that comes off is a thing called Antinomianism which basically believes there is no law, each person is morally right because each is entitled to believe what they want to and is free to do what they want to. In this last view there is no absolute moral law. Proverbs put it like this, ‘There is a way that seems right to a man but the end is the way of death.’ When that happens you feel life lurch to the side and hear an agonizing scraping in your soul that knows something is terribly wrong. So John writes to the church and encourages us with these thoughts. Have a look at 1 John 2:1,2..    

I. The Reality Of Our Sin Is Met By the Reality of Our Advocate.

The culture of John’s day, like ours is today, didn’t regard themselves as people who had a sin nature which is an inclination to deny the existence of God and put their own desires first. So the people of that day would say that did not sin, they just chose that which was best for them Look at how John starts out in verse 1, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” This is not an ‘if you sin’ position but rather a, ‘when you sin’, view. That sin occurs in each of us is an evidence of our very nature which is inclined to self and sin. Yet at the same time John directs us to control ourselves, to not let those self- serving desires of sin get the upper hand in our lives. As Christians you know not only the reality of the existence of your sin nature and the corrosive effect sin has on you and those around you, but you also know the God Who it is you ultimately sin against each time you choose you over Him. Listen to what King David wrote about this in Psalm 51:4, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done this evil in Your sight, that You may be found just when You speak and blameless when You judge.” Though we wound one another with our sinful choices, ultimately all sin is an act of unbelief directed against God. So what is John’s remedy for this, what does he direct that early first century church to do? He points then to the reality that they have an Advocate that they can turn to. An advocate is one will stand beside you and plead your concerns and case before those you have hurt or sinned against. The reason the advocate can do that is because they know you, they have been in some sense where you are and they have a right standing with the person that is the judge. You can see where this is going, Jesus Christ the righteous One knows what it is like to walk in the shoes of a human being, He knows temptation, He knows pain and rejection. He’s been where you and I are. If that’s not enough, He also has a relationship with God the Father that is highly regarded, He sits at the Father’s right hand! You couldn’t have a better Advocate, He intercedes for you not because He’s paid to do so but because He’s related to you. Or perhaps it would be more correct to say you are related to Him. By faith in Christ we become family with Jesus, in Jesus. This is the Advocate that John speaks of, He’s the one referred to in Hebrews 2:18, “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Every temptation has an element of suffering in it, a morsel that promises to be a feast but lies. Jesus Christ the righteous is your Advocate, tempted in all things as we are and yet is without sin. He is the best Advocate for the sinner because He knows us and He knows the Father.

II. The Reality of Our Sin Is Met By the Reality of His Propitiation.

This is where things depart from the way we experience normal life. In normal life you will get those who advocate for you, sometimes because they were paid to like a lawyer or like fellow players on a hockey team or fellow workers at the office who take your side on some issue. So we know the concept of an advocate but an advocate that takes the next step of becoming your propitiation, now that’s outside of our normal. So what does that term, ‘propitiation’ mean? To answer that let me use Scripture to interpret Scripture.

  1. 1 John 4:10 “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”. Propitiation has it’s source in God. It’s not based on our worthiness or cause or right. It proceeds from God to us.
  2. 1 John 2:2 “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” Propitiation is all about the need to meet justice. You may have robbed a bank and you may be really sorry about that and you may even have a great advocate or lawyer yet justice stills needs to be served, sin still needs to be paid for or atoned. Propitiation is what is paid to meet justice’s demand. Propitiation is a term that is all about the payment of debt to satisfy justice.
  3. Romans 3:25 “…whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,”. Propitiation is all about the method of payment, in the case of sin against God that method was substitution, something or someone taking the place of another. In the O.T it was animals, a picture fulfilled in the N.T. Jesus is our substitute, He took our place. He not only paid the price, He was the price for our sin. The eternal being of God the Son paid the eternal debt of mortal mankind’s sin that an eternity of hell would be met by an eternal righteous Christ for all the world. That’s not a statement about some kind of universalism where everyone is saved but rather the extent of it that reaches Jews and Gentiles alike through their faith in Christ. Propitiation is all about the substitution of Christ for us to satisfy justice demanded against sin.
  4. Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Propitiation is all about what it achieves, salvation, atonement, redemption, reconciliation. He makes propitiation, He satisfies justice, God’s wrath against sin. This Advocate is both our High Priest and the sacrifice itself, the perfect Lamb of God and He makes propitiation by His blood.

Propitiation proceeds from God to us, propitiation meets the needs of God’s justice against sin, propitiation is all about the method of payment, His blood, His life for ours, propitiation is all about what it accomplishes, our restoration of eternal relationship with the Father, our reconciliation. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:2.     This is the power of propitiation in Christ Jesus!         

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