Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
Verse 25 says “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith.” Sometimes we can read this and be confused as to what Paul was saying because we don’t understand.
The Greek word for “sacrifice of atonement” is also rendered as “propitiation”. The same word is also used in reference to the cover of the Ark of the Covenant. It was there that a goat’s blood was sprinkled over the Ark’s cover on the Day of Atonement to cover- or atone- for Israel’s sins and satisfy God for another year. If you’d like to read more on this, you can find it in Leviticus chapter 16.
So what does this mean for us? For the believer, propitiation (sacrifice of atonement) means the removal of God’s punishment for sin through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. He has become our atoning sacrifice. Paul wants us to know that Jesus’s death is the final sacrifice which completely satisfied God’s demands against sinful people, thus averting His wrath from those who by believe by faith. God in His undeserved love has done for us what we could never do by ourselves. Think about that…God gave Himself for us! How? God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement. The love, the idea, the purpose, the initiative, the action and the gift were all God’s.
The means of this justification is: faith. Three times faith is used in the paragraph by Paul. It’s important to note there is nothing meritorious about faith, and that when we say that salvation is ‘by faith, not by works’, we are not substituting one kind of merit (‘ faith’) for another (‘ works’). The value of faith is not to be found in itself, but entirely and exclusively in its object, namely Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This is what makes the gospel such good news!
But we’re not done yet; we even see God’s mercy in that He “left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” He did this not because of injustice on His part or with any thought of condoning evil, but in His forbearance, and only because it was His intention in the fullness of time to punish these sins in the death of His Son. This was the only way in which He could simultaneously “be just,” indeed “demonstrate His righteousness,” and be “the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” You see, both justice (the divine attribute) and justification (the divine activity) would be impossible without the cross. Through Christ’s cross, through the shedding of His own blood, God redeemed His people, propitiated His wrath, and demonstrated His justice.
I know that’s a lot to take in, at least it is for me. So take some time and grab ahold of the fact that God propitiated His own wrath in such a way as to redeem and justify us, while at the same time demonstrate His justice. Let that thought sink in.
So what are we to do with this truth? I think we can stand in awe of God and marvel at the wisdom, holiness, love and mercy of God, and fall down before Him in humble worship.
When we think of the depth of God’s love and mercy found in the cross, in Christ’s atoning scarifies, it should be enough to break the hardest heart and melt the iciest.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians. NIV Life Application Study Bible.