What is Expiation?

God gave man the freedom of choice in his soul. Man has the ability to choose, and make decisions. The Bible tells us about the original test of man's freedom of choice.

Genesis 2:15-17 says, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"

God told Adam and Eve that sin would cause spiritual death. Death means separation, and spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. Sin is an ugly thing, because it causes us to be separated from God. It is a terrible thought to be separated from God. Yet, we are all born spiritually dead, because we all sin.

Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

The penalty for sin is spiritual death.

Romans 6:23 says, ". . . the wages of sin is death."

This verse explains that the payment for sin is death. When we commit sins, the cost we must pay is death. However, if we believe in Christ, that cost is paid for us by His death on the cross. This is the doctrine of expiation.

We are all born physically alive, but spiritually dead. Sin requires spiritual death, but we can't die spiritually to pay for our sin, because we are already spiritually dead. Man cannot pay the price for his sin, because he has no assets with which to pay the penalty.

Ephesians 2:1 says, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins."

However, the Bible says that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for us.

1 Corinthians 15:22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."

Jesus Christ paid the payment for spiritual death, and expiation refers to this payment. Wouldn't it be nice if someone gave you his credit card, and told you to buy whatever you wanted? You would receive the benefits, and he would pay the price. That's what Jesus Christ did for you and me. Our penalty was paid entirely by God, so that it could be of grace.

Rom 4:16 says, "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all."

Grace is the work of God, plus nothing else. Our penalty is not paid by our good works. Our penalty is not paid by water baptism, the Lord's Supper, or confession of sin.

Romans 4:4-5 says, "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."

Works is no longer grace, and grace is no longer works.

If someone is going to pay the penalty for my sin, He has to be a human being like me, and He has to be spiritually alive. Since sin causes spiritual death, He has to be someone without sin. We are born as slaves to sin, and an enslaved person cannot free himself.

Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.

Luke 1:31-35 says, "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'"

He had no human father, so he didn't inherit a sinful human nature. He wasn't born into the family of Adam like we were, so Adam's sins were not imputed to him like they were to us. Jesus Christ was born into the family of God. He had no personal sins in thought, word, or deed. Jesus Christ was spiritually alive, so He could die spiritually for us, as well as physically. Jesus Christ willingly chose to die for us, and He suffered that horrible death by crucifixion. He was nailed to a cross with nails piercing His hands and His feet. The Bible records His last three hours on the cross.

Matthew 27:45-50 says, "From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' When some of those standing there heard this, they said, 'He's calling Elijah.' Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, 'Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him.' And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit."

Even the sun hid itself at the terrible moment when Christ took our sin onto Himself. Under the heavy burden of our sin, Christ cried out to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He cried out in the agony of your sin and mine. At that moment, he suffered spiritual death in our place. It rightfully should have been you and me dying for our own sins.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

If Christ paid the penalty for our sins, are we assured of spiritual life? Is our salvation in Christ secure? Yes, Jesus paid it all.

Romans 8:35-39 says, "...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Death is final. Now, we are in God's family forever, not in Adam.

Hebrews 10:17 says, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."

Because He died for us, we may live spiritually now. How do we get that spiritual life? It's already there, and we just have to accept it. The price has been paid, and no other works are required. All it takes is a placing your trust in Jesus through a simple act of your faith.

Acts 16:3 says, "They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."

You just have to believe what you've just heard the Bible proclaim. You don't have to perform any works, or obey any laws. Jesus paid it all.

Colossians 2:14 says, "Having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."

Expiation (payment for sin) had to be made, and Jesus paid it all.

Owen Weber 2009