Do you ever read the Psalms, particularly the first 50 or so, and notice how many times God is said to hate sinners? Consider two examples:
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:4-6)
The LORD tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
When we are far too often prone to depersonalize our sin as something outside of us that “attacks us” or that we “struggle against,” we would do well to consider thoughtfully these words. Sin is something we are. It is a personal rebellion, an attack mounted up against the Holy One who has given us life and breath and everything. It is the insidious plot hatched in the hidden places of our heart to do away with the God of the Universe that we might reign in his stead. Do we put ourselves in those Psalms? If we are to understand the weight of our sin, and our desperate need for Christ, we must consider carefully that God is angry with us.
This is why the unspeakable glory of the Gospel can be packed into the word that John uses in 1 John 2:2. Christ is the propitiation for our sins. It has been called the ‘heart of the Gospel’ and ‘the most important word in the universe.’ Christ, the righteous Son of God, who has for eternity shared in the glory of the Father in Heaven, set God’s wrath aside by his death so that the objects of God’s anger would become the objects of his love and mercy. This is he who stands at God’s right hand in our place this very hour. Our propitiation, declaring by his very presence to the cosmos that all those who have taken refuge in him are now the beloved sons of God.
And how does the Father feel about all this? Is he smoldering with anger as he looks upon his beaming, joyful Son, because he cannot damn us as he desired? By no means! He shares in the gladness of his Son, delighting to lavish his grace upon us, because it is he who has provided Christ as our propitiation. It is the Father whose heart longed to show us mercy while satisfying his own justice, and before the foundations of the world determined to set his dear Son forward as a propitiation by his blood, so that he could eternally, gloriously, be the just and the justifier. And all who would be accepted of God must come through this Christ, which is why John adds, “and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Would you win the fight against sin? We must be watchful and fervent in prayer that we might not enter temptation, yes. We must mortify our sins mercilessly, daily, yes. But if the fight is all in our hands, we may as well already sound the defeat. But it is not. Lift up the eyes of your faith to Heaven, to God’s right hand. There stands the victory. There stands the assurance. There stands salvation. He is the propitiation for our sins.