When we sin, we remind ourselves that standing with us before the Father is Jesus Christ. Jesus accomplished a perfect righteousness in our place and died on a cross, bearing the full weight of the wrath of God for us. Our total trust, our total reliance, and our total dependence are not in any notion that we are sinless (because we are not). Our total trust, reliance, and dependence are in the truth that Jesus, through His sacrifice and perfect righteousness, makes us acceptable in the presence of God.
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
The word propitiation, as used by the apostle John in 1 John 2, has been the subject of much debate throughout the centuries. The question is this: Does John mean by propitiation that Jesus Christ, through His death on the cross, obtained forgiveness for us, or does John mean that through His death, Jesus not only obtained forgiveness for us but also satisfied the wrath of God against us? How you answer this question will either lead you to the gospel of Jesus Christ and a saving knowledge of God, or to a faulty understanding of who God is and what He requires as payment for our sins.
Some would say that God is not a God of wrath. They would say that God does not demand blood sacrifice to satisfy His wrath against sin and sinners. They claim that God is pure benevolence – a loving God, who would never have this kind of wrath that needed to be satisfied against sin. These people argue that this word means that Christ came and died and brought forgiveness, but that God did not need to have His wrath appeased because a loving God is not angry.
The problem with this view is that the Bible clearly presents God as angry not only with sin itself but also with sinners. In Psalm 2:12, the kings of the earth are enjoined to “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.” Our God is a God of wrath who becomes angry with sinners and sin – especially the sin of rejecting His Son. This anger toward sinners is just and warranted. It is the just anger of a holy God who rightly exercises wrath against what is truly evil and wicked.
David writes in Psalm 7:11 that God “has indignation every day.” What is it that makes God’s wrath necessary? It is the fact that He is a righteous judge, and the world is full of wicked people. God is not some petulant deity who becomes angry without cause. Our God, as a righteous judge, must exercise wrath against those who are wicked and defy His divine law. If he wasn’t angry at evil, he wouldn’t be righteous.