From the time of the first sin in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, people have continually separated themselves from God by transgressing His law. God is Holy (1 Peter 1:16), that is, He is separate from sin, so when I defile myself by committing sin I create a barrier between God and myself. Sin severs my relationship with God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Each person who has the ability to understand right from wrong at some point chooses to sin, thus creating this barrier (Romans 3:23; 7:9).
The amazing thing about God’s love for us is that even though we are responsible for severing the oneness we once had with Him, He is the one who has acted first to restore the relationship (John 3:16; 1 John 4:19). Atonement is when God takes actions to restore His relationship with us. A good way to remember the word is to break it down into the saying “At-one-ment.” Atonement is the act that makes me “at one” with God. Though it is my sin that severed the relationship, it is His actions that make oneness possible again. Notice how many times the Lord says “I will” in this great passage introducing atonement in Hebrews 8:10-12. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (emphasis added).
The actions that God took for atonement involved the sending of His Son Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, to shed His blood for us on the cross (Romans 5:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Upon that act of atonement the new covenant, (which the above quotation from Hebrews 8 is describing), is established. Aren’t you thankful that God took the necessary steps to make it possible for you to be at one with Him again? Isn’t it wonderful that He is willing to be merciful to your unrighteousness and no longer remember your iniquities? Are you willing to take the necessary steps to respond to God’s atoning through Jesus by obeying the Gospel? Are you one of His people? Do you have His laws in your heart and mind?
Flatwoods church of Christ