Romans 3:25 begins like this: “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.” Notice first off the subject and verb of the sentence: “God presented.” This shows that though God is justly angry with sinners, He sent His Son into the world as a sacrifice for sinners. God took the initiative here. While mankind turned their back on their Maker, He sent His Son.
God presented “him” (Jesus) as a “sacrifice of atonement.” This phrase in the NIV comes from a word in the Greek that is best rendered “propitiation.” To propitiate someone means to satsify and avert someone’s anger. According to this verse, then, Jesus’ death propitiated God’s righteous anger against sinners. In His death, Jesus made a pleasing and satisfying sacrifice to the holy demands and character of God the Father.
The phrase “in his blood” should probably follow “propitiation” in translations, rather than “through faith.” “In his blood” reminds us of the way Christ’s satisfaction of His Father was accomplished. God was satsified through the “blood” (in other words, the death) of His only Son. Ephesians 5:2 describes Jesus’ death as a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
The words “through faith” mean that Jesus’ propitiatory sacrifice is appropriated “through faith” in Jesus. We are all born sinners under the wrath of a holy God (Eph 2:1-3; John 3:18). But “through faith” in Jesus we receive the benefits of what Christ accomplished on the cross. Since He died for sinners and satisfied the just demands of the Father, God’s wrath is averted from believers because of the sacrifice of His Son! This is marvelous news for Christians.
So here is the current status of Christians: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). Notice carefully here: only “those who are in Christ Jesus” are no longer condemned by God. This is important, because not everyone is “in Christ Jesus.” God’s wrath is not averted from sinners simply because Jesus died. God’s condemnation is removed when sinners receive the sacrifice of Christ “through faith.” Anyone who trusts in Jesus and in His finished work on the cross, surrendering to Jesus as Lord and Savior, is no longer condemned by God.
Paul said, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). How can sinners trust in Jesus and be saved? Because Jesus satisfied the just demands of God “in his blood,” His death on a cross.