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  • Writer's pictureRobin Smit

No Penal Substitution

I used to understand Jesus as my Advocate, as One who has to remind the Father that I am righteous because He shed His blood for me. Having to remind the Father to accept me!! When all along, He was endorsing my true identity and defining my likeness FACE TO FACE with the Father. The penal atonement teaching has caused us to miss out on the truth in Scripture…. forcing us to spend years trying to please a God who we thought was a Judge but who, as it turns out, was ALWAYS pleased with us!!

We were taught that He was a demanding God needing appeasement. Requiring sacrifices in the Old Testament to show them that the ultimate sacrifice would be His Son. Reading Scriptures like 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:10 that says Jesus was the propitiation for our sins, only reinforced our understanding of penal atonement. The word propitiation is hilasmos in Greek. The Strong's Concordance defines it as an offering to appease or satisfy an angry or offended party or an atoning sacrifice to an angry god.

What a terrible definition! All that does is reinforce your belief that God needs appeasement.

Yet in 1 John 4:10, the word hilasmos is used in connection with the Father’s love for us…. herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

That doesn’t sound like an angry God who needed appeasement. It sounds like a Father who runs passionately to His children!! Like the father that we see in the parable of the prodigal son. The root of the word propitiation is hilaskomai, meaning having mercy on, showing favor to, and forgiving. That doesn’t sound anything like Strong’s meaning we read above! His Son was the expression of His mercy, His acceptance, and His forgiveness. And the ancient Hebrew root of propitiation is חץ — a tent wall. The tent wall separates the inside from the outside. He separated us from ALL that was outside of us (ALL that was not a part of our design, not a part of our nature)… He separated us from sin and death! He COMPLETELY removed or eradicated sin from the earth and FULLY destroyed death!

Understanding that makes it easy to realize that Jesus wasn’t appeasing God…. He was appeasing us! Mankind thought they needed a sacrifice to be forgiven (Hebrews 9:22). The cross was for our benefit!

God was not angry with man and therefore sent Jesus as a sacrifice to appease His anger. NO! He didn’t change His mind about humanity after Jesus went to the cross. Mankind had forgotten our true identity. They had forgotten that we were made in the image and according to God's likeness and given dominion over all things. Jesus came to reveal to us the love and union we have ALWAYS had with the Father. He didn’t give His life for God but rather gave His life for us, AS us.

He came as a sacrifice because WE thought we needed one, not because God did. He came to put an END to the sacrificial system by being the once and for all sacrifice…. IT IS FINISHED!!

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