A Demonstration of Justice—Romans 3:25
"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" (Romans 3:25)
Did you know God presented Jesus as a sacrifice to demonstrate His justice?
God’s solution was to take all sins—past, present, and future—and place them on Jesus as a sacrifice
One would think this demonstrated His mercy because we all benefited. But Paul said it was to show His justice. I think this is because He had left prior sins unpunished since the beginning of time. That’s mercy, but the problem is it is easy to mistake His act of grace with the acceptance of sin, which can never be the case because God is holy.
God’s solution was to take all sins—past, present, and future—and place them on Jesus as a sacrifice (Heb. 10:12). This showed that He could in no way tolerate sin and, without a doubt, this demonstrates His righteousness.
But we can also see God’s mercy because He presented Jesus as the sacrifice of atonement. This point is easy to miss, but in this presentation several things happened. This sacrifice was actually two-fold because the Greek word is hilastērion (Strongs G2435), which is found in only two places in the scriptures, here and in Hebrews with the mention of the Mercy Seat in Heaven (Heb. 9:5).
Hilastērion is translated as propitiation and mercy seat in the New Testament and eventually stood for both. This matters to us because in God’s justice, He presented Jesus as both the mercy seat and propitiation for sin.
What is the world does propitiation mean?
In God’s justice, He provided the way for us to not only be forgiven of sin—without any record of failure marring our account—but also to follow the way to be reconciled with Him through Jesus.
Propitiation is the act of appeasing God’s wrath against sin by expiation, using blood to atone for sin and then removing it from the sinner. The other term, mercy seat, was used as a place of reconciliation. In the Old Testament, the mercy seat is where the annual sacrifice for sin was made on the day of atonement and was where Moses communed intimately with God (Ex. 25:22).
So in God’s justice, He provided the way for us to not only be forgiven of sin—without any record of failure marring our account—but also to follow the way to be reconciled with Him through Jesus. Both the mercy seat and propitiation were eternally achieved by Christ for us.
So what should our response be?
To live like this is the truth! To no longer be sin conscience and to take advantage of this invitation from Jesus to be in closer relationship with God. The writer of Hebrews puts it like this: “Therefore, brothers (and sisters!), since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:19-23).
Original article published June 23, 2009.