“Therefore in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
To serve as the High Priest for all mankind, Jesus had to become a human being, experiencing life as the high priests under the Law of Moses did. These human experiences allowed Him a greater understanding of man’s plight.
To fulfill His intended purpose, He had to remain sinless, not giving in to temptations. Then He could serve as the perfect sacrifice, qualified to pay the price for the sins of all people. God could then cleanse us from our sins and, at the same time, maintain His pure and “just” nature.
“Propitiation” means “atonement” or “appeasement.” Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, satisfied God’s requirement for a pure sacrifice. We stand today under the tremendous benefit of this great act that presented us with the opportunity of going to heaven someday.
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).
Besides being a book of doctrine, the book of Romans is also a book on living the righteous life. The Apostle Paul lays out some practical principles that characterize the life of anyone who is serious about pleasing God. This verse is no exception.
Paul’s teaching here centers on our own attitudes and the esteem we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Even Paul, with all of the benefits he had as an inspired apostle did not reflect an attitude of arrogance or superiority to those around him.
Humility and consideration of others are two of the defining characteristics that make up our service in Christ. If we feel superior to those around us or if we carry a sense of self-importance on our shoulders, we can neither please God nor can we hope to have a positive spiritual influence on those around us.
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
So much in these verses flies in the face of the platform upon which many modern religions are built; there is no absolute truth from God; it is not possible to err from the truth; since it is not possible to err from the truth, there is no erring one to turn back to God; consequently, there is no opportunity for a blessing to be realized. Many scriptures refute these premises.
Throughout scripture, we find affirmation that there is such a thing as truth and that it comes to us from God through His word. When a Christian accepts God’s truth, he or she has the choice of staying with it or ignoring it. According to scripture, when we disregard the truth of God, then we slip back into sin; and we will be lost in eternity if we fail to return.
When this situation occurs and when another Christian influences an erring brother or sister to return, he receives a spiritual blessing. As well, the restored Christian receives an even greater blessing: he returns from death—that is, spiritual death—and once again has a relationship with God.
“Covering a multitude of sins” is used in the sense of the erring person’s receiving forgiveness not that his sins are hidden. This entire process exemplifies an obligation of every Christian: that obligation is to help and encourage our fellow Christians as we all journey toward eternity.
“And the second is like to it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
After having told His followers that loving God with all of their heart, soul, and mind was the first and greatest commandment, Jesus continues with the second and equal commandment that the people did not expect: loving their neighbor as themselves.
We should never lose sight of the love we are to have toward our fellows, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. And Jesus is not talking about a shallow, meaningless kind of love—it is a sincere love that stimulates a genuine concern for others. It is a love that is demonstrated.
Such a love requires that we set aside jealousy and selfish ambition and focus on developing our hearts to think the best of others and to do our best to help them become the best servant they can be for the Lord.
This kind of love is an identifying characteristic of God’s children—a love that, without which, we do not really have a substantial claim to be a faithful child of God.