Expiation is a word we do not use often or seldom hear of. Thus, it is probably a word or action we do not know much about. In the New American Standard Bible, it is used only one time and that is in Numbers 35:33,"So you shall not pollute the land in which you are, for blood pollutes the land and no EXPIATION can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it." Expiation in the Bible is a blotting out or removal of sin, thus the renewal of communion with God. The supreme act of expiation is Christ's death on the cross. In Psalm 51, a Psalm of repentance by David, we get a look at what expiation is referring to. In Psalm 51:1,"Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness, according to Your compassion BLOT out my transgression." And Psalm 51:9,"Hide your face from my sins and BLOT out all my iniquities."
Expiation is the act that results in the change of God's disposition toward us. It is in what Christ did on the cross, and the result of Christ's work of expiation is called propitiation, God's anger is turned away from us, His wrath is pacified, and satisfied by Christ's sacrifice for sin. Guilt is said to be expiated when it is visited with punishment falling on a substitute. Expiation is made for our sins when they are punished not in ourselves but in another who consents to stand in our stead. It is that by which reconciliation is affected. Sin is thus said to be "covered" by vicarious (substitutionary) satisfaction. The Psalmist in Psalm 32:1 expresses his delight in just this, "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." God in Christ Jesus is He alone who can accomplish this.
The great English Puritan Steven Charnock states, "If He be our Lamb, we must be like Him, we must learn of Him. As He is the cause of our expiation, He must be the copy of our imitation. If expiation could be made by a creature for himself, in vain did God send His Son to be a propitiation for sin. Had man himself been sufficient for it, God's sending His Son had rather appeared an act of cruelty to Christ than of mercy to us." Romans 8:3,"For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh." He condemned my sin and yours in His (Jesus's) flesh. The just died for the unjust, once for all.
The great theologian and author A.W. Pink states,” At the beginning, the Judge of all the Earth had formally pronounced sentence, ‘Thou shalt surely die’, And that sentence was now fully and finally executed, vicariously, for elect sinners." So how shall we live having received such an Indescribable Gift? It was for us He endured the cross, suffering separation from His Father, and tasted the bitterness of death. Oh, may the realization of this make us hate sin, and cry daily to Him for complete deliverance from it. And may the realization of grace so amazing constrain us to live only for Him, who loved us and gave Himself up for us. Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou my God shouldst die for me.
Elder Randy Slak