The Fires of God Against Our Sin are Cold: Propitiation

January 25th, 2015 1 John Sermon Series 1 John 2:1-2

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. [1] 

Something in last Sundays sermon upset some folks and I wanted to use it for the introduction into today’s sermon.

I said that unlike us “God is not a mix of good and evil, therefore God has no sympathy for our sin. God is never patient or at rest looking at our sin. God is always mobilized and agitated by sin. He is always on the move to deal with it.”

If the truth that God is angry against sin and sinners comes as a shock, then might I suggest we read our Bibles without cherry picking passages. The Scriptures never describe God as weak against sin. God will never get over our sin. God will never just accept us like we are in our sin.

Tolerance for sin is never listed as an attribute of the Divine nature. If you are not prepared to see the Lord through faith and repentance, then the idea of seeing God should be terrifying.

Malachi 3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire.

Isaiah 33:14 The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”

God feels this way toward Old Testament sinners and New Testament sinners alike.

Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

God hasn’t changed. God is still angry with sin and is highly motivated to burn up sin and sinners like dross.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 We wait for his Son from heaven, whom God raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

It wouldn’t be a bad thing if the Holy Spirit awakened in our hearts a holy fear of God.

Our author John thinks that we can’t live the Christian life if we have a weak view of God’s attitude toward sin. John opens his letter to us by describing the most basic truth about the person we know as our God.

What is the message? God is holy. We are not. God lives in the light according to His nature and we live in darkness according to our nature. God is a truth teller. We lie to others and ourselves.

We know by experience that darkness and light are not friends. They don’t coexist. Light never makes peace with darkness. Light has a mission to eradicate darkness.

And God is on the march to burn up sin through the majesty of His holiness. God would burn us up if it wasn’t for the blood of Jesus His Son that cleanses us from all sin.

John intended to put the fear of God in our hearts, but doesn’t want us to live in fear. Immediately, the words of this elder Apostle turn comforting. As a loving grandfather, John speaks gentle words to assure us that we will not be cut off from fellowship with God because of our sins.

My little children – Loving grandparents speak like this when they are calming down their anxious family after learning of impending danger. Yes, North Korea has smuggled nuclear bombs onto American soil. But listen now to your gran-papi. You will not die. God will make us safe and blessed.

And John is giving the same sort of comforts here. Yes, we should be terrified of God and our pending punishment. But listen now to grand-papi John. You will not die. God will make us safe and blessed.

The assurances of our salvation never negate the terror of God’s wrath against sin. Our wages are still death if we are not looking by faith to Jesus.

God is holy. God is a raging fire against sin and sinners. But John is only reminding us of this truth to motivate us not to sin. There is hope in these verses. It is possible to live free from the power of sin over your life.

This truth is in fact one of the primary purposes that motivates John to pen this book. John’s letter gives us a guide for living free from the power of sin.

And what does that roadmap to a holy life look like? Square one is a fear of God’s wrath against sin and sinners.

Second, we must seek the Lord every day for fellowship. If we live in fellowship with the Father and Christ then we will not sin. And that is John’s secret for holy living. We must feel the love of the Father every day. This connection gives us spiritual energy, power and grace in our soul, to walk away from sin.

John is writing these things to you so that you may not sin. The original languages hold an excitement and eagerness in this expression. John is asking us to be ready and motivated to win the battle. Like the eagerness a soldier feels the night before an armed conflict. He is anxious and ready to enter the battle and win one for himself and the commander.

That’s how John is speaking. We should feel amped up to live holy even as the Father is holy. Inspired. Energized. Encouraged. We should wake up every morning seeking to connect with God. We use His Word and prayer to run out the darkness from our own hearts, and then we shine His light into the darkness of this world.

And when we fail. When we fall down. Do not listen to the Devil telling you that you have no part with God. When fellowship is broken, we should run back to the loving Father who promised that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

We should be saying on the journey back that we confess our sins, that we claim God’s faithfulness to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

From the darkness of our own fears come words of condemnation. We tell ourselves that God won’t take us back into His fellowship because of who we are.

We must answer the darkness. Speak back into the void the truth from John the Apostle. Speak God’s word of assurance to your own hearts. With vigor shout that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!

How can we be so confident that the wrath of God won’t smite us on our journey back to Him? This is the million dollar question. How do we know that God isn’t going to smoke us for sinning? Maybe the invitation to come home is a trap. Maybe God is getting us out of the shadows to take better aim.

No. Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Redemption. Propitiation. Atonement. Appeasement. These are big ideas that the Church needs to explain better.

God is light and judges sin. I am a sinner and deserve death. The work of Jesus changes my status from being the enemy of God to being the friend of God.

Why do I not deserve death? Jesus suffered my death so that I can live in fellowship with God forever.

Jesus is our propitiation. He is the wrath removing sacrifice for my sin. His blood covers our guilt. The fires of God no longer burn against me. They are extinguished.

We have a fireplace in our living room. My kids sit in front of the fire to feel the heat on their backs. They sit there as long as they can, and when the stand up, I try to put my hand on the back of their shirts so that they can really feel the heat.

The next day I send a child to clean out the fireplace. They put their hands in the space where the fire raged. Their pink skin and tender hands scoop up the ashes. We bag up the coals and throw them away.

Well, there isn’t any heat left in God’s wrath toward us. Jesus put the fire out. You can put your hand over the coals, but no heat is left.

We can talk to the Father about our need for cleansing from our sins. There are no flare ups. God doesn’t reignite the fire of His wrath when we sin.

All the wrath of God against sin was poured out on Jesus on the Cross. He suffered and bled and died. Jesus paid it all. Sin stained my heart, but Jesus washed it white as snow.

So how do we know that God isn’t going to strike us for our sin? Because God struck His firstborn Son. God already burned Himself out bringing judgment for our sins against Jesus. There is no more fuel left to start a fire. Jesus stood in our place and took our torments. He was our substitute.

God’s wrath against our sin is appeased. We have fellowship with the God of Light through the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin.

Jesus made propitiation. His sacrifice removed the wrath against us. Jesus exchanged our wages of death for His righteousness and future glory.

But if we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous He is the propitiation for our sins.

Jesus the Righteous did this for us.

Only a righteous man can suffer for the sins of someone else. If a man is convicted of murder, he can’t go to prison and pay the punishment for another murderer. Each man must pay for the deeds he has done. But Jesus never did anything wrong. He was sinless. When Jesus died a sinner’s death, Jesus died for us.

If Jesus wasn’t righteous than His suffering was for His own sins. The wages of sin is death. Jesus never earned those wages. He didn’t deserve death. Jesus didn’t earn separation from the Father. Yet on the Cross Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me!”

Jesus gave up the most precious thing any person could ever possess. Jesus gave up His fellowship with the Father. Jesus descended out of the favorable presence of the Father that we might be raised up into fellowship with the Father. Jesus descended into Hell that we might ascend into Heaven.

And this redemption by Jesus for us is an ongoing work of salvation. Jesus isn’t passive sitting at the right hand of God waiting for us to get there.

Jesus is still alongside us. He isn’t disconnected from His people. Jesus is our Advocate. At every moment Jesus is faithfully reminding the courts of Heaven that our payment for sin was made on the Cross.

All the perfections of Jesus are considered ours. The people of God collectively own the eternal glory that Jesus earned for Himself through perfect obedience to all of God’s laws. The Father sees us as righteous as His own Son even though we still have areas of sin we need to overcome.

That’s how powerful the blood of Jesus is to save to the uttermost those who believe. The doors are opened for us to enjoy eternal fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. We should be able to feel even now fellowship with the Triune God within the fellowship of His Church.

And this Gospel is open for the whole world. The blood of Jesus is able to cover the sins of anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. The wrath of God against sin is eternal and immeasurable, but the power of Jesus to appease that wrath is also eternal, immense and free. The blood of Jesus will never lose its power.

This message of salvation crosses all boundaries, ethnicities and cultures. The authority of this message given to the Church is a global call to faith. and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

The whole world could be saved if they would call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone can enjoy fellowship with the Father. We have fellowship with one another by faith in Jesus. And Jesus takes us all into eternal fellowship with the Father.

And this is the message of salvation that John is declaring again to the Church. God is holy. We are sinners, and we are brought into fellowship with the Father through the blood of His Son.

Let your heart this morning embrace a deep and profound respect for the holiness of God, and at the same time embrace an eternal assurance of salvation in the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from our sin.

There is no more fire against those who are in Christ Jesus. We can run back into fellowship with our Father every morning assured of His love and blessing. Let us pray.

[1] The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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